Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,560.00 ft (475.49 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
4.10 mi (6.60 km)
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With its large, white concrete “L” emblem on the mountainside, Mount Jumbo is a familiar backdrop to Missoula. On the northern bank of the Clark Fork River, opposite the similarly branded “M” of Mount Sentinel, Jumbo is the smaller of these two iconic Missoula mountains. 

You haven’t spent enough time in Missoula if you haven’t hiked to the “L” and summit of Mount Jumbo. Several trails provide access to the summit, including routes leading from the Lincoln Hills neighborhood north of downtown. The quickest route from within the city is from the Cherry Street Trailhead, north of the interstate and railroad tracks. 

From Cherry Street, the “L” is less than a mile up the mountainside. Steep elevation gains along the switchbacks of the trail make that mile something to work for. But the views of the Missoula Valley increase with every foot of elevation gain. After climbing approximately 700 feet and making it to the “L,” the view expands further to increase the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area to the north. 

The view from the “L” makes for a worthy adventure. For those looking to push further, the trail continues from the emblem to the summit. It’s a steep pitch and more switchbacks from the “L.” Other notable mountains that blossom on the horizon on the way up to the summit include Cha-Paa-Qn to the west and Lolo Peak to the south. Nearing the summit, the “L” Trail connects to the Jumbo Backbone Trail.

It’s a half-mile uphill jaunt to reach the summit on the Backbone Trail. At the peak, the view widens to include the entirety of East Missoula and Hellgate Canyon. The summit is a great place to take a breather before the downhill journey back to the trailhead. 

It’s easy to make a loop out of the “L” trail and summit hike. Head back down the Backbone Trail for a half-mile and make a left at the junction to follow the Mount Jumbo South Face Trail. This alternative route leads back to the Cherry Street Trailhead with different views the entire way.

The South Face Trail switchbacks down the mountain for approximately two miles. The southern orientation offers more significant views of Hellgate Canyon and the north face of Mount Sentinel. The trail also affords a great view of downtown and the Clark Fork River. The hike comes in at just over four miles upon making it back to Cherry Street. 

Mount Jumbo is home to a seasonal elk population every winter. Seasonal closures occur on the mountain each season in support of their natural habitat. The summit is not open to hikers between December and March, but the “L” trail and below are open year-round.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

No

Open from

May 01 to December 01

Pros

Easy to access. Great views of the city.

Cons

Trail is exposed to sun.

Trailhead Elevation

3,262.00 ft (994.26 m)

Highest point

4,764.00 ft (1,452.07 m)

Features

Wildlife
Family friendly
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Flathead lake + Mission Range, Montana
Flathead lake + Mission Range, Montana

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