Once a U.S. Army Military Reservation, the 5,500 acres of valley bottom and mountain top became part of the Lolo National Forest in 1952. In 1975, a number of civic groups joined the Forest Service in a major clean-up project. Abandoned vehicles and garbage were removed, a system of trails was built, and regulations were established to protect people from indiscriminate shooting. In 1986, Blue Mountain was formally designated a Recreation Area.
There are three major access points off this road:
The trailhead for the National Recreation Trail, about 1/2 mile north on Blue Mountain Road.
Forest Road #365, turns left off Blue Mountain Road about 1.4 miles from Highway 93 South.
Maclay Flat turnoff, on the right about 1.5 miles from Highway 93 South.
The Recreation Area
Located just two miles west of Missoula, Blue Mountain Recreation Area is a great place to explore.
Maclay Flat Trails
At the base of Blue Mountain, two connecting loop trails at Maclay Flat offer an easy stroll through open grasslands and ponderosa pine. Parallel to the Bitterroot River, these trails (1-1/4 and 1-3/4 miles long) feature interpretive signs, benches, and wide wheelchair friendly paths. Maclay Flat also has picnic tables and wheelchair accessible toilets. Be considerate of other users and wildlife in the area. If you bring a dog, bring and use a leash.
Blue Mountain National Recreation Trail — 8 miles long. This trail is for hiking and horses. Vehicles and mountain bikes are prohibited!
Blue Mountain Nature Trail — 1/4-mile-long loop trail. Wheelchair accessible up to the viewpoint. Information about the numbered posts along the trail is contained in a separate brochure, available at the trailhead or the Missoula Ranger District office.
Scenic Drive/Fire Lookout
A rare sight awaits those who travel to the top of Blue Mountain: a working Forest Service lookout. Open from spring through fall—depending on snow conditions—and suitable for passenger cars and trucks, the mountain’s graveled road offers an easy climb and some great views of the Missoula valley and distant peaks.
During fire season, Blue Mountain visitors can climb the 50-foot lookout for a personal tour. Safety regulations, however, limit visitors to three at a time. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Remember, the lookout staff is on duty—the job of watching out for fires must come first! Please don’t disturb this important work.
To reach the lookout, take Road #365 almost to the top, then continue on Road #2137 to the peak. Note: Road #2137 is open mainly in July and August.
Camping and Campfires
Camping and campfires are allowed beginning 4.5 miles up the mountain, west of Road #365.
Reprinted from U.S. Forest Service brochure.