Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
2,150.00 ft (655.32 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
7.40 mi (11.91 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In conjunction with base-area trails, the Pengelly Trail provides an alternative route to the summit of Mount Sentinel - Missoula’s flagship mountain. The route navigates the mountain’s western face, similar to the iconic “M” Trail nearby, located closer to the Clark Fork River and heart of the University of Montana campus. 

This summit route via Pengelly begins further south in the city, behind the University of Montana Golf Course. This route is less used than the “M” trail and provides spectacular views of the valley below. Coming in at just under four miles to the top and climbing over 2,000 feet, this adventure is primed for post-work, early evening explorations.

The trail begins next to the golf course maintenance shop. Here, hikers choose between the readily apparent road or a singletrack route on the other side of the fence. The two ways parallel each other for a half-mile and travel through private property (stay on the trail and keep dogs on a leash). 

After approximately a half-mile, the trail connects to the Mo Z Trail. This one-mile trail was constructed to offer mountain bikers a reasonable way to get up the mountain. Accordingly, mountain bikers often use this trail, including for fast descents. 

After a mile on the Mo Z Trail, the route comes to an intersection with several other trails. The steepest route, to the left, is the Pengelly Trail. And it is indeed steep. Pengelly covers over 1,200 feet of elevation gain in two miles, and you’ll feel that climb in your calves with each step. 

After an initial climb, the entire uphill trail above comes into view. And the elevation opens excellent views of the Missoula Valley, including distant looks at Lolo Peak. After two miles of building thigh muscle on the Pengelly Trail, the route reaches a southern summit of Mount Sentinel - but not the actual uppermost summit. 

It’s a quarter-mile hike along the Pengelly Ridge Trail to reach the true Sentinel summit. This short path is a scenic hike through a forested summit environment. After the Pengelly Ridge Trail, it’s a left turn onto the Sentinel summit trail for a short (and again, steep) push to the top. 

From the top of Mount Sentinel, hikers can repeat their journey all the way back down to the golf course. Alternatively, the immediate face of Mount Sentinel offers several routes down the mountain. Other accessible trails from the summit include the Hellgate Canyon Trail that connects to the Kim Williams; or the Crazy Canyon Trail that connects to Pattee Canyon.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

City views. Less traveled. Quick/easy.

Cons

Exposed.

Trailhead Elevation

3,225.00 ft (982.98 m)

Highest point

5,131.00 ft (1,563.93 m)

Features

Wildlife
Family friendly
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Comments

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