Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101

    Missoula in the Winter

    Hi All,

    I've read a bunch about how great the riding is in Missoula in the summer. I love winter sports as well - curious what Missoula is like in the winter? Where do you like to ski and how far of a drive is it? Snowbowl looks like a close family type ski resort. How far of a drive is it to XC skiing (prefer non-pay XC skiing) or snowshoe spots? Does snow stick to the ground much in town?

    Also - is it a pretty dog friendly town? Can you take your dogs biking/xc skiing off leash? I live on the front range in CO - due to the high population there are some restrictions (as you can imagine).
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    9
    There is an inversion in Missoula leading to VERY few sunny days in the winter. It really is depressing if you're not used to it. I often find myself driving hours out of the way to find some sunshine.

    That said, it's a wonderfully friendly bike town. It's very accessible in town for bikers and there are a lot of trails a very short drive in any direction out of town. Missoula is also very dog friendly. I don't own a dog, so I can't speak to what trails are dog friendly, but I see them out all the time.

    Snowbowl is nice because it is right on the north edge of town and good for those days when you just want to roll out of bed and be on the mountain. It's small and not the 1st choice of most locals, but it does the job. Otherwise you got Lookout, Discovery, Lost Trail all a short drive away.

    The winter's have been variable lately. Last winter was sad, as the pavement in town was showing for a large part of the winter. There was a 3 day span where it hard snowed nonstop, but besides that it was pretty mild.

    Again, the winter inversion is a real turn off to me and a lot of people and it keeps the winters relatively mild. But, the town is great and so are the people.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101
    Thanks for the info. Good to know about the inversion.

    How far of a drive is it to Lookout, Disocover, Lost Trail? And are there other winter outdoor opportunites close to town like XC skiing?
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  4. #4
    Don't worry, be happy!
    Reputation: formica's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    6,559
    Lookout is about 100 miles. If you wan to go a little farther, there is a lot of good alpine/resort skiing out there, and I'm sure the backcountry options are endless.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: dubbreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    168
    I learned to ski at Snow Bowl as a kid. Looks like they expanded it a bit since then (>20 years, so not surprising). I remember liking Discovery Ski area (< 2 hour drive). They apparently have 5km of xc trail.

    As a kid with my family we'd xc ski on the golf course. There was also a small outdoor skating rink.

    Another issue with the inversion is pollution. Air quality can get quite poor in the winter.

    That said it's a beautiful area and I remember there being tons of bikers (correlates with the number of university students). What's the population of Missoula? 80K roughly? University of Montana has >15K students. That's a huge % of the population.

    Wide roads which is nice for biking. I was told they are wide so that carriages could turn around in the street. Don't know if that's true, but the streets are definitely wide.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    3
    Snowbowl is a wonderful small town ski hill with great local vibe. The terrain is steep and there is quite a bit of dense tree skiing. The lifts are old and slow and the grooming is minimal....so the place is not considered that family oriented...go to Discovery for that (1:20 drive when roads are dry).
    There are groomed xc trails in town and up towards Lolo Pass. Also quite a bit of ungroomed xc terrain in various spots on the edge of town. Backcountry turns can be had in all directions if you are willing to work for it or have a sled for approaches.
    More and more people are getting out in the winter on fat bikes so our single track (down low) gets some winter use....
    Lots of layed back cyclists and snow riders in this town. Check out Sam Schultz at the Olympics on the 12th...he is from Missoula and will represent the USA in mountain biking....

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101
    Quote Originally Posted by willisg View Post
    Check out Sam Schultz at the Olympics on the 12th...he is from Missoula and will represent the USA in mountain biking....
    Oh cool! Will do.

    Snowbowl sounds interesting...
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    14
    Snowbowl is a ton of fun and unless its dumping in town there's never many people there. Plus the bar up there is awesome. Also some decent side-country is accessible from snowbowl. Groomed XC is at Lolo Pass ($20 / year) but you can explore the forest roads up there for free. You can also XC ski near town when there is enough snow.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101
    So, my wife and I will be in the area this week. Going to do a trip to Glacier and hope to ride in Missoula for a day. Can anyone recommend some trails and a shop to rent a decent bike? We'd be looking to do a 2 hour ride. Elevation is not an issue, we're in decent shape and lean more towards flowy XC type terrain over more technical rides. Maybe something around 14 miles and < 2000 vert? Also, not sure what kind of rental car we'll end up....would be a bonus to be able to ride from a shop, but not 100% necessary.

    And, this may start a cultural war.....but what microbrews do we absolutely have to check out while in town? My wife and I lika da hops.
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    3
    Check out Missoula Bicycle Works...they rent Konas. Big Sky Bikes has Specialized while Open Road will rent Trek. You could ride to singletrack from any of the three shops and they all should offer up info on how to get to the trailheads.
    Some of the best flowy trails are in the Rattlesnake rec area either in the Sawmill Gulch/Curry Gulch area or Mt. Jumbo/Woods Gulch side. There is a map which would be helpful for route finding, available on one of the shop's websites...M Bicycle Works I think....

    My recommendation: Stewart Peak trail in Sawmill up to the "Snowbowl Overlook".....trail #24.1T on the map, ride it clockwise.

    As for hoppiness in your beer, you could finish your ride at Kettlehouse (north side taproom) and try their Double Haul IPA. Or try out the newcomer in town, Draught Works where you can sample two rather bitter and hoppy ales. My favorite (though not brewed in Missoula) is called "Single Malt IPA" from Blackfoot River Brewing (Helena).
    Have fun.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101
    Very cool! Thanks for the beta.


    Quote Originally Posted by willisg View Post
    Check out Missoula Bicycle Works...they rent Konas. Big Sky Bikes has Specialized while Open Road will rent Trek. You could ride to singletrack from any of the three shops and they all should offer up info on how to get to the trailheads.
    Some of the best flowy trails are in the Rattlesnake rec area either in the Sawmill Gulch/Curry Gulch area or Mt. Jumbo/Woods Gulch side. There is a map which would be helpful for route finding, available on one of the shop's websites...M Bicycle Works I think....

    My recommendation: Stewart Peak trail in Sawmill up to the "Snowbowl Overlook".....trail #24.1T on the map, ride it clockwise.

    As for hoppiness in your beer, you could finish your ride at Kettlehouse (north side taproom) and try their Double Haul IPA. Or try out the newcomer in town, Draught Works where you can sample two rather bitter and hoppy ales. My favorite (though not brewed in Missoula) is called "Single Malt IPA" from Blackfoot River Brewing (Helena).
    Have fun.
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    14
    You might want to check with a few of the shops as they are starting to sell off their demo bikes. Also if you want to try a bunch of Montana beers then go to the Rihno downtown. My favorite Montana IPA is also the Blackfoot.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: brianb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    113
    Missoula.
    Snowbowl can be awesome. I learned to ride there. Lots of treed terrain with powder stashes. Really fun to explore. Even on a crowded day waits are not long.
    Snowstorms can be isolated, and one nice thing about that area in thewinter is that if you have the time & inclination, you can go to where the snow is (Discovery, Lost Trail, Big Sky etc).
    Getting up high in the winter is a must, due to the inversion layer.
    Mt. biking is awesome, as you've heard. Never drove to a trailhead, three different mountain ranges.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: kntr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,239
    Missoula has good trails but Kalispell is even better.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slcdawg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,101
    Thanks again for the suggestions. Ended up riding with some friends - and we did a loop up to the Snowbowl lookout. Great trails, and almost deserted mid day on a saturday. We got passed by Sam Schultz (per my buddy) and ran into a momma bear and her two cubs. Definitely a cool weekend.

    As for beer, I really dug the Tamarck Rye Pale, Kettlehouse Doublehaul IPA, and the Blackfoot IPA. Draught Works was really cool (except they close too early) - and had some great hoppy offerings.

    Missoula looks like a great town! A little crazy with the roots fest and back to college crowd, but great riding and awesome brews. We definitely need to come back and spend some more time there.



    Quote Originally Posted by willisg View Post
    Check out Missoula Bicycle Works...they rent Konas. Big Sky Bikes has Specialized while Open Road will rent Trek. You could ride to singletrack from any of the three shops and they all should offer up info on how to get to the trailheads.
    Some of the best flowy trails are in the Rattlesnake rec area either in the Sawmill Gulch/Curry Gulch area or Mt. Jumbo/Woods Gulch side. There is a map which would be helpful for route finding, available on one of the shop's websites...M Bicycle Works I think....

    My recommendation: Stewart Peak trail in Sawmill up to the "Snowbowl Overlook".....trail #24.1T on the map, ride it clockwise.

    As for hoppiness in your beer, you could finish your ride at Kettlehouse (north side taproom) and try their Double Haul IPA. Or try out the newcomer in town, Draught Works where you can sample two rather bitter and hoppy ales. My favorite (though not brewed in Missoula) is called "Single Malt IPA" from Blackfoot River Brewing (Helena).
    Have fun.
    "Serves you right to suffer." -The Wife (after being 2 hours late)

  16. #16
    NeedGod.com
    Reputation: Barheet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    495
    I haven't lived in Missoula since 1995, but loved it while I was there. Snowbowl is a pretty good local ski area, as others have mentioned. When I was there, they had a bus that would shuttle you from the Safeway parking lot to the lodge for free. I see that Marshall Mountain shut down, but that was a pretty good place for beginners. Big Mountain in Whitefish is definitely worth the drive and is one of the best ski resorts in the US from what I've heard. The back side didn't get much travel when I was there and was almost pure powder.

    Mountain biking in the Rattlesnake is amazing. The Stewart Peak trail is one of my top mountain biking experiences EVER. One time I even got a warning by one of the park rangers for speeding, so watch the signs.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •