In 1995, Missoula residents voted to support an open space bond to help purchase Mt Jumbo to protect its unique wildlife habitat and public access. Additional funding and support from Five Valleys Land Trust along with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Lolo National Forest and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation cemented Mt Jumbo as the cornerstone of Missoula's open space parks. Large herds of elk and deer winter on the steep hillsides, and paragliders like to launch from its summit. Elk feeding activity limits public access during the winter (closed from December 1st to March 15th every year). Loyola Sacred Heart High School has its "L" initial overlooking the city, and the trail to it is one of the more popular exercise routes.
According to most historical sources, the Salish Indians called the present Mount Jumbo 'Sin Min Koos,' which roughly translates into 'obstacle' or 'thing in the way.' David Thompson called it 'Brown Knowl' when he climbed in on February 26, 1812. Later, eastern settlers thought Mount Jumbo looked like a sleeping elephant and miners christened a nearby copper mine 'Jumbo Lode' in honor of Barnum and Bailey's most famous attraction. Locals saw the landform as a reclining elephant with its rump in the Clark Fork River and its trunk pointing north toward the Rattlesnake Mountains; the round grassy mountain became known as 'Elephant Hill.' Later, the feature was renamed Mount Jumbo.
As you use Mt Jumbo, please follow the guidelines for trail use, dogs on leash (for the first 300 meters of the trailhead, then on voice command) and winter closures. To protect the herd of elk that call Mt Jumbo home, the southern portion is closed from December 1 through March 15. The northern portion is closed from Dec 1 through May 1.
There are two major access points to Mt Jumbo from the Rattlesnake Valley: From Van Buren Avenue in the Lower Rattlesnake turn right on Cherry Street to reach the L trail and the south trail. About 2 miles up Van Buren/Rattlesnake Drive turn right at Lincoln Hills and drive to the end of the paved road to access the Mt Jumbo Saddle Trail.
Bikes are not allowed at the Poplar and Locust street entrances, as well as parts of the Backbone (Ridge) Trail. Call 721-PARK for more information about bike access on Mount Jumbo.
Miles: North Loop Trail – 3.8 miles; Saddle Trail – 1.1 miles;
Backbone Trail 1 – 2.5 miles; "L" Trail – 2/3 mile
Elevation gain: Varies. The Saddle and North Loop are easiest, at logging-road grade, while others can be very steep.