I have burned a few early mornings and evenings over the past few weeks exploring the trails leading up to Missoula's backyard Lolo peak including an exploratory run to the base of Lantern ridge from Mill creek, a fun early morning beat-the-heat bike loop up the Mormon peak road and down the Mill creek trail, and an evening bike ride up the Mormon peak road and up the trail to Carlton ridge, then all the way down to the valley via the Carlton and Mill creek trails (3.15). I am quick to throw superlatives around when describing bike rides, but this may be my new favorite full length ride around Missoula. The Mill creek trail is usually in good shape for biking since it is cleared annually by a local mountain biking group (buy Alan Swanson a beer next time you see him).
The most rewarding outing by far, however, was running Lolo peak from the valley, using the Mill and Carlton trails to approach Carton lake, climbing Lolo peak via the north ridge, then traversing over Carlton ridge proper on the way back to the Carlton/Mill exit trails. I was tired at the end, but ended up running the 6,000 vertical foot loop in just under 4 hours. It is worth noting that the Mill creek trailhead is on private land, and one of the landowners has posted No Trespassing signs. After checking with the Forest Service and consulting with an adjacent private landowner, here is what I know: Public trail access IS allowed on the Mill creek trail. Please stay on the route marked with grey diamonds for the first 1.5 miles. Anyone can park along the highway at the Mill creek road junction, but parking is also allowed at the trailhead directly across the road from the No Tresspassing trailhead gate. Do not block the gate.
I have also been running as much as possible, loosely in preparation for the Rut 50k. Aside from Lolo, the one recent standout run was a major variation to the Double Dip loop: Up Kim Williams and Hellgate canyon to University, down to saddle and up to Sentinal north, out connector trail to Sentinal south, down Pengelly ridge, across fire road and down M (1.45). I was also able to squeeze in a perfect run on the immaculate Pearl/Heart lake loop near Superior in (1.50).
Another recent Missoula misadventure was climbing the Dihedrals West route in Mill creek. The route went at about 10c, with a full helping of dirt and choss. Beta here.
|Waiting for the heart rate to drop on the summit of Lolo peak|
after running up from the valley.
|No Trespassing signs at the Mill Creek trailhead. Public access is legal, |
and parking is allowed off to the right of the photo
|Steep dihedral climbing in Mill creek.|