New Trails Coming to Missoula’s North Hills

We’re in the midst of an incredible series of expansions of our in-town trail systems. Last year the new High, Wide, and Handsome trail on Mount Dean Stone opened. This summer the Mount Dean Stone system will expand again with House of Sky. But that’s not all that’s ahead for us this year!

The City is now collecting comments on yet another brand new trail system, an area proposed to be called the Bluebird Preserve. We encourage Run Wild Missoula runners who enjoy trails for walking or running to submit comments about this addition to our trail system before the deadline on Friday, March 11th.

Where will these new trails be?

The Bluebird Preserve was acquired by the City of Missoula in 2019 and is on the Grant Creek side of the North Hills. This project will include the development of trails and a new trailhead adjacent to the Snowbowl carpool lot on Grant Creek Road. The trails will traverse over 400-acres of North Hills land that provide sweeping views over Missoula. This trailhead is made possible by a generous donation of an access and parking lot easement by the Morris Family.  

When are the trails scheduled to open?

The work to develop the preserve is going to happen very quickly and the trails are slated to open this coming fall! Once opened, a portion of the area will be closed every year between October 1 and March 31 to protect wintering wildlife.

What will the Bluebird Preserve trails be like?

The proposal is for the addition of four miles of looping trails. These trails won’t yet connect to the larger North Hills and Waterworks trail systems, but there’s potential for that to happen in coming years. The Bluebird trails will be open for pedestrian and equestrian use, but not accessible for bike or motorized users. The new trailhead will provide additional access and parking for the Grant Creek Trail on the other side of Grant Creek Road.  

What should I comment on?

If you have time, take 10-15 minutes to read over the full project proposal. Here are a few things Run Wild Missoula suggests you address in your comments:

  • Thank the city for expanding our system of pedestrian trails. This is no small accomplishment and we’re lucky that our City prioritizes trail infrastructure and projects such as these amongst many competing priorities.
  • What would you like to see in terms of trail and other educational signage?
  • Note any infrastructure you think is critical to have at the trailhead or along the trails.
  • A feasibility and funding study will determine whether a new Grant Creek Road crossing is included in this project to more safely connect the new trailhead to the Grant Creek Trail. If that is important to you, make sure to note that in your comments and encourage the city to make the crossing development happen.
  • If you’d like to see this area named something other than the Bluebird Preserve, share your suggestion for a different name.

The City has provided an easy to use comment form. Make sure to visit and submit your comments before midnight on Friday, March 11.

Can’t wait to see you on out all of our new trails this summer and fall!

  • Summary compiled by Erin Clark, Run Wild Missoula board member