By SILKE JAUCK
The loops at Maclay Flat are easy, accessible walks.
The trail has no elevation gain and is an easy stroll along the Bitterroot River. The bigger of the two loops is two miles, so it’s an easy walk for people who just want to get away from town for a little time. The trail is level and lightly graveled and easy to use for wheelchairs and strollers.
Even though the trail is not long, it offers a bit of everything.
Much of the trail is shaded, which makes it pleasant during a hot summer day. A short part of the trail leads along the Bitterroot River and benches invite you to sit down and enjoy the flow of the river. The open and lush green meadows offer views of McCauley Butte and Blue Mountains. Further down, the trail leads along the Big Flat Irrigation Ditch.
Besides just walking, the trail offers a surprising variety of activities. Taking the trail early mornings, one often sees birders and it’s certainly a good idea to bring binoculars along. There is also boating and fishing access. The trail is marked with several interpretive signs telling about the history of the place, and its flora and fauna. It’s a great spot for an easy trail run or jog. Dogs are permitted, leashes are required.
Getting there is easy. The marked trailhead and parking lot are just a short distance off Blue Mountain Road. Hopefully one day; there will be a bike and pedestrian path down Blue Mountain Road so bikers and walkers can enjoy this recreational area even more.
Silke Jauck is a German native and Missoulian by choice. She and her family have packed and unpacked their suitcases and moving boxes in four continents and have finally settled in Missoula and called it home.
She lives with her husband, three daughters, and a dwarf rabbit in the Target Range neighborhood. Silke is the publisher of Friendship Book, a made-in-Montana keepsake and activity book for children ages 6-12. She also has a blog about life hacks at Silke Good Ideas, and you can visit her Make it Missoula blog archive.