Bozeman’s iconic landmark is a massive whitewashed M on the southern end of the Bridger Range. Between its iconic setting above Bozeman and the amazing views of town from the M, it is no wonder why the M Trail is so popular with locals and visitors alike. Almost immediately after leaving the trailhead, you come across your first junction. Taking a right is considered the hard route. The trail heads up in a calf burning ascent straight to the M. Left here is considered the easy way to the M. These directions assume you’re taking the easy route.
From the junction, climb slowly across the open slopes. The dirt trail is distinct and wide enough for people to walk side-by-side, making this trail great for kids. There are several more junctions across this slope; at the second set of junctions, continue left on the lower, wide trail. You’ll walk across more open hillside until you come up on a signed junction with the Bridger Foothills Trail. Take a right here. Soon come up on a forested patch of a trail, which chutes you directly below the M. Take a break and enjoy the sights from one of the two benches below the M.
Parking at the M Trailhead can often be full during warmer months, especially on the weekends. Overflow parking for the M can be found on the road shoulder in between the M parking and the parking for the Drinking Horse Trail. Alternatively, you can just go straight to the Drinking Horse lot to snag a parking spot and have a quick walk over to the M Trailhead.
The M stands for Montana State University and was finished by about 60 university students in 1916. Today, Montana State student volunteers help maintain and restore the M, allowing the legacy to continue.