The Maclay Flat Nature Trail is a great place to birdwatch or to take a quiet walk along the Bitterroot River. Maclay Flat is located on the west edge of Missoula, making this a local favorite spot for walking and jogging.
At a Glance
This is a day use area only. Area closed 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Pets must be leashed. No horses. No bikes. Please view our Blue Mountain Recreation Area brochure and Lolo National Forest Visitor Guidelines.
No drinking water available
Handicap accessible vault toilets
Missoula Ranger District, 406-329-3814
Directions: From Interstate 90, take the Highway 93, Reserve Street, exit and head south. Turn right onto Blue Mountain Road (has a light signal) and head west 2 miles to the Maclay Flat Nature Trail. General Notes: This site is accessible and has nature trails, parking, restrooms, river access, and interpretive signs. Benches are available along the trail. The parking lot is paved and the path is gravelled. In the spring, the Bitterroot River sometimes overflows and temporarily submerges portions of the trail.
The Maclay Nature Trail is a great place to go birdwatching or to take a quiet walk along the Bitterroot River. This ponderosa pine/cottonwood-lined riverbottom attracts hundreds of bird species including saw-whet owls, American redstarts and wood ducks. A series of 12 trail-side signs describe the plants and animals to be found here.
This unique and popular area is a great place to watch birds and maybe even glimpse a deer walking through the river.
herons, various migratory and local birds, deer, muskrat
A series of 12 trail-side signs describe the plants and animals to be found here. This ponderosa pine/cottonwood-lined riverbottom attracts hundreds of bird species.
Ponderosa pine, cottonwood habitats. Riparian areas and meadows with native plants.
A series of 12 trail-side signs describe the plants and animals to be found here and their environment and role in the ecosystem. This recreation area is very popular for its value as an outdoor classroom.
Boating - Non-Motorized
Non-motorized boating is a great way to view wildlife and appreciate the riverside scenery/vegetation in the area. Carry your boat or canoe 150 yards down the trail to access the river. See our brochure, "Clark Fork River Float" for maps and details which you can request from or pick up at the front desk of the Missoula Ranger District office. The brochure also has wonderful descriptions of the wildlife and vegetation seen along the float.
yes, carry boat to river
Type of Craft
canoe, raft, kayak
There are many trails to explore with your cross-country skis. Please see our brochure, "Pattee Canyon Recreation Area" for a map of the area trails.