Greenough Park Trail: A Journey Into Art and Nature

Publisher’s Note: Make It Missoula is publishing the writings of University of Montana students enrolled in Nadia White’s autumn semester 2014 Adventure Writing class. Each student was assigned a Missoula area trail to explore and write about. Read more about Nadia White, this assignment, and the University of Montana School of Journalism’s Adventure Writing class. Enjoy!


I’m cruising into Greenough Park on my bike, entering the park at its southern end, closest to town. I’ve got my headphones in, and Wiz khalifa bumping loud.  On the right, I see a rock in the distance. The little bit of sun that manages to peak through the clouds bounces off its curiously colorful surface.

I bike over to the side of the trail to further exam this boulder with the beautiful colors on it. Someone had set into the rock a mural of glass shards depicting fish swimming down the creek. I take a deep breath, I really take in this beautiful piece of art. This wonderful park in the middle of Missoula is more interesting than I thought it might be. Continuing down the path, I’m eager to find out what else there is for me to discover.

I travel deeper into this unexplored strip of creek side land. I get this sense of serenity, a sense of peaceful calmness. The air smells moist on this crispy cold day. It looks like it is about to rain and it smells like it is going to happen soon. I take my headphones out and tune into all the park has to offer me.


Photo by ©Parker Brixey

Immediately, I hear Rattlesnake Creek flowing fast through the center of the park, roaring as if it was flood season.

I don’t quite know how big the park is, so I stop at the first footbridge on the right and take a closer look at the map on my phone. It’s not a big park but I see that I’ve only discovered around 1/6th of what it has to offer. I park my bike at the bridge and continue down a few paths only accessible by foot.

As I enter a wooded path, I notice what looks like a bunch of squirrels standing on their hind legs in the center of Rattlesnake Creek. As I get closer, I realize someone waded to the center of the creek and stacked different kinds and sizes of rocks on top of each other about five rocks tall. I am surprised to find about 10 different rock statues placed randomly throughout this area in the park.

As I follow the main path I came to find that there are a lot of little trails that you can follow by foot through the brush and down to the creek.


Photo by ©Parker Brixey

On the other side of the creek I joined a paved path that has a perfect hill for  intermediate long boarders. It’s just steep enough to provide a little exhilaration speed.

Over all, Greenough Park is a place to go for a run or leisurely stroll. It’s a place to get away from the city for a bit. Its location and accessibility make it one of my favorite places in Missoula. It’s a beautiful park that shows off Missoula’s artistic culture and reveals just how close to nature you really are, with the wide variety of bird species, plant life, and art all through out the beautiful park.

Wandering through this park made me realize, and almost accept that this is my home now.  I moved to Missoula from Kalispell and now I see I am no longer a stranger in a land unknown to me; I am a citizen in a town I am more then happy to call my home. People looking for a place to clear your head for a little bit, this is the place to go.


Greenough Park

A small park right in the center of the city Missoula, Greenough, spans 42 acres straddling Rattlesnake Creek. A paved bike path follows, for the most part, the creek.

Distance: 1.5 mile loop with various optional side trails.

Elevation gain: Minimal

Trail: Paved or packed earth

Directions: Take Madison Street north, across the train tracks and under the Interstate. An entrance to the park is immediately across Vine Street after the Interstate underpass. If driving, turn right on Vine Street, curve left and follow Monroe Street to a parking lot on the left.