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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
Discover the Nature of Montana...

Trails and Maps

Mount Jumbo

Missoula protects a mountain

Home to wintering elk, nesting songbirds, swallowtail butterflies and bitterroots.


"L' Trail

Saddle Trail

Field Notes

This mountain in the city is home to mule and white-tailed deer, a wintering elk herd, black bears, mountain lions, marmots, red foxes, and a host of birds and butterflies. Blue Grouse nest in the Douglas fir, Lazuli Buntings sing from the tops of serviceberry bushes, and Prairie Falcon scan the mountaintop for prey. On a sunny June day on the top of Mt Jumbo, you'll find bitterroots in bloom and swallowtail butterflies "hill-topping", where males gather on mountain summits to find a mate.

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In 1995, Missoula residents voted to support an open space bond to help purchase Mt Jumbo to protect its unique wildlife habitat and public access. Additional funding and support from Five Valleys Land Trust along with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Lolo National Forest and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation cemented Mt Jumbo as the cornerstone of Missoula's open space parks.
Mt Jumbo's name reflects its likeness to an elephant with its head and trunk facing north. The back of this elephant mountain is covered with bluebunch wheatgrass, rough and Idaho fescue grassland, and with woody draws or ravines that grow thick with hawthorn, service berry, and ninebark. On the cooler north side of its shoulders, you'll find a ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forest.

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Cultural Link

Many have wanted what Mt Jumbo had to offer. Around the 1880s, miners tunneled into the mountain looking for gold, silver and cooper. A quartz lode claim, called Jumbo after a traveling circus elephant, struck copper and left it with its trademark name. Especially in winter with a dusting of snow, look for the ancient shoreline of Lake Missoula still visible along its face as horizontal watermarks.

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Viewing Tip

If you'd like to be on top of a mountain, this is the hike for you. The views are spectacular--you can see out over the Missoula Valley, the Rattlesnake Wilderness to the north, and Mt Sentinel and the Bitterroot Range to the south. If you like hiking up a steep trail, start at the Cherry Street access. If you'd rather take your time and follow a ridgeline, use the Mt Jumbo saddle access.

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Helpful Hint

As you use Mt Jumbo, please follow the guidelines for trail use, dogs on lease and winter closures. To protect the herd of elk that call Mt Jumbo home, the southern portion is closed from December 1 through March 15. The northern portion is closed from Dec 1 through May 1.

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Getting There

There are two major access points to Mt Jumbo from the Rattlesnake Valley: From Van Buren Avenue in the Lower Rattlesnake turn right on cherry Street to reach the "L" trail and the south trail. About 2 miles up Van Buren/Rattlesnake Drive turn right at Lincoln Hills and drive to the end of the paved road to access the Mt Jumbo Saddle Trail.

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Missoula Parks & Recreation
100 Hickory Street
Missoula, MT 59801

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parking, hiking and mountain biking trails.

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Species of Note

  • Prairie falcon
  • Blue Grouse
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Western Bluebird
  • Mountain Bluebird
  • Lazuli bunting
  • Spotted towhee
  • Western meadowlark
  • Anise swallowtails
  • Elk
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