Famed M Trail to Close May 3-10 for Improvements

MISSOULA – The University of Montana will close the famed M Trail on Mount Sentinel to hikers May 3-10 to make improvements.

While the switchbacks are closed, hikers will still be able to reach the M by using the trail that follows the north-facing ridge from the main trailhead or by using the trail at Evans Street.

“This is an exciting round of improvements to the M Trail,” said Marilyn Marler, UM natural areas manager. “We are working with Radius Trail Solutions LLC, who has a ton of specialized experience with the M Trail and others around the Missoula Valley. We have to close the trail because of the danger of objects falling on hikers below, but other routes to the M will remain open, and the area will be well signed.”

With more than 1,000 hikers per day, the M Trail is the most heavily used trail in Montana. The high-volume use of the trail requires routine maintenance.

Volunteers are needed throughout the week of the closure to help explain the project and help hikers navigate to open routes. To sign up for a volunteer shift, please use the online sign-up form.

“Three of the lower trail sections will be slightly extended, and the grade decreased, so that the trail is less erosive,” Marler said. “It’s the end of the last five years of very hard work on the beloved M Trail.”

In recent years the M Trail received significant upgrades to prevent large-scale erosion – including the addition of 100 railroad ties to fortify the trail.

Due to its high volume of use, the M Trail requires around-the-year maintenance from dozens of volunteers. To help support the M Trail and ensure the maintenance can continue, donations to support this work can be made at MTrail.org.

“We always welcome volunteers and donations,” Marler said.

The M Trail was established in 1908 by UM students, and the .75-mile trail on UM property has been continuously maintained by the University ever since.


Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659, dave.kuntz@umontana.edu