Category: Jack Blog!

Hike close to home with Jack!

Don’t get it wrong: Jack loves a good road trip as much as the next guy.

But when it comes to hitting the trails, let’s just say sometimes he gets a little more enthused when the sofa isn’t too far away.

It’s true: Whereas some children have security blankets; Jack has a security sofa.
So in honor of that – as well as the unpredictable nature of all the wildfires across western Montana – Jack’s going to share some of his favorite close-to-Missoula hikes.

Check ’em out, and don’t forget to CLICK HERE to register for a free auto detail courtesy of Lithia Ford of Missoula!


1. Rattlesnake Main Trail, #515

An easy stroll along Rattlesnake Creek that satisfies all ages and most abilities

The Rattlesnake Recreation Area and Wilderness are the closest wilderness areas to a major metropolitan area in the United States!  They are comprised of 61,000 acres – 33,000 of which are designated wilderness.  There are more than 73 miles of trails that are great for activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding, fishing and more.

From the main Rattlesnake trailhead, head down the wide trail (a single-lane former logging road).  After a quarter mile you’ll see Rattlesnake Creek on your right.  At 0.4 miles there is a horse bridge that goes over the creek.  If you’re lucky you’ll see an American dipper hopping around on the rocks below.  This is a lovely spot for the kids to play in the water or to have a picnic.

At 0.6 miles, a small trail splits off to the right off of the main trail.  If you take this trail, you’ll hike closer to the creek for the next mile.  If you stay on the main trail, you can go another 15 miles!  Take the smaller trail on the right that follows the creek.  Here you’ll be hiking through Ponderosa pine/Douglas fir forest with an under-story of primarily nine-bark.  Look for lady slipper orchids, buttercups and even trillium.

At 1.7 miles this narrow river trail meets back with the main trail.  Stay on the main trail until you come to an outhouse (3 miles).  From this point on, you are officially in the wilderness and permitted to camp.  Turn around here or if you’ve got time for a deeper foray into the wilderness keep going!

How to get there: From Missoula, head north from Broadway onto Van Buren St. (near Eastgate Shopping Center). Cut under the freeway, and Van Buren will eventually turn into Rattlesnake Drive.

Continue about three miles until you reach the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area entrance.

2. Vista Point Loop

A pretty little loop in south Missoula with great views

Blue Mountain Recreation Area is in the Missoula Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest and is located only 2 miles south of town. This area was part of the Missoula Military Reservation until 1952.

There are 41 miles of trail here, including 9 miles of the Blue Mountain National Recreation Trail (NRT).  Dogs are allowed to be off-leash, making this a favorite hiking area for folks with dogs.

From the trailhead, take trail 3.04 through the big field. This is a one-lane former road. At 0.75 miles the trail curves to the right then heads north along the base of the mountain.

After about 1.25 miles on trail 3.04, go left on trail 3.06. At 100 yards you’ll see a strangely bent tree. After passing the tree, you switchback up the hill for approximately 0.75 mile to Vista Point where you’ll have great views of the Bitterroot River and the Missoula valley.

From the top of Vista Point go down the backside (southwest). At 0.25 mile there is a junction of trails 3.06 and 3.05. Go right on trail 3.05 and head downhill. Hike 200 yards and turn right at trail 3.03. You’ll pass a very large rock sitting by itself. After 0.5 mile from the top of Vista Point you’ll join the original road/trail 3.04 (point “D” on map). Go right and follow the old road back along the base of the mountain and through the field to the trailhead.

How to get there: From Missoula, head south on Brooks like you are headed towards Lolo and the Bitterroot Valley, but just after leaving Missoula proper you’ll hit a stoplight at Blue Mountain Road. Turn right here and then head another half-mile to its junction with Forest Hill Road.

Turn left here and you’ll be at the parking lot.

3. Pengelly Ridge Trail

A heart-pumping hike to the top of Mount Sentinel

This is a challenging but rewarding route to the top of the south side of Mount Sentinel that is sparsely used, as opposed to the more popular hike to the “M”. It is named after David Pengelly, a Missoula lawyer who died at the age of 52 in a climbing accident.

It starts on the edge of the residential Pattee Canyon neighborhood and follows the short “Mo Z” trail before climbing the single-track trail to the top of the mountain.

The first 50 yards of the trail is very steep. At the top, the trail splits. Take the trail on the right, between the 2 Ponderosa pines. You will wind your way up to a gravel road in about a third mile. Make a right and follow the road until you see a major junction and the wood sign for Crooked Trail (which you will not take). The trail that you want is the narrow dirt single-track that heads up.

From here, you will climb up and up and up on a single-track dirt trail. You will still be in a native prairie habitat composed of lots of native bunchgrasses and some spotted knapweed. You may see whitetail or mule deer, hear western meadowlarks and see large raptors such as red-tailed hawks or turkey vultures overhead.

After about a half-mile heart-pounder, you will enter a small patch of trees and see some rocks at the base of trees that are painted with pictures. Keep climbing uphill along the trees on the narrow trail another third mile until you get to the stone plaque on the ground dedicated to David Pengelly. At this point, you can turn around and go back down the way you came up, or continue on.

Shortly after you find the stone plaque and you turn around and head back down the mountain the trail will split. Take the LEFT trail. If you take the trail on the right, you will head steeply down across the mountain toward the “M” above the University of Montana campus.

How to get there: From downtown Missoula, head south down Higgins Avenue to where it begins to curve west. Turn left onto Pattee Canyon Drive here, and head up about .6 miles to the parking strip on the your left.

The parking area is at a natural gas utility substation with a chain link fence around it. Look for the trailhead sign at the green metal gate.


For most of our lives, August in Missoula meant one thing and one thing only: Fair season!

Today, however, we experience another less fortunate association when someone mentions the month of August: Fire season.

And while the fair gets better and better every year (free admission, anyone?) it seems like the fires get worse: Earlier breakouts, thicker smoke, more evacuations and, worst of all, increased firefighter injuries and fatalities.

20526030_10155694536400625_17888284464083652_nSince the fair dust and fire smoke are already intermingled in our heads and lungs, it only make since we formally lump them in our hearts as well.

With that, we’re excited to announce the annual Demolition Derby will be expanded into a two-event show benefiting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which assists families of firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty.

The Put Out the Peaks Motor Rally will still happen in the arena on the final day of fair week, but this year there will be derby’s at both 4 pm and 8:30 pm – and a portion of proceeds will go directly to the foundation.

“Firefighters are risking their lives so we can enjoy summer traditions like the fair,” said fairgrounds director Emily Bentley. “Honoring their sacrifice – and the sacrifice their families make – is the least we can do.”

Attendance will be $16 per show, with each scheduled to last about two hours. You can pick up your tickets in advance HERE.

Or … you can try your luck at a free pair through our Facebook page!

If it would encourage you to invite along a few paying friends – or at least make it easier to put money in the boot when it’s passed around – we’d be more than happy to get you to the show.

Thanks to you for listening, thanks to the firefighters – and their families – for their sacrifice – here’s to more fair dust, and less fire smoke, for all the Augusts to come!

Demo derby to benefit firefighters
Check out the fair menu!

Sure, there’s carnival rides. Even a demolition derby, cute lil’ bunnies and three days of rodeo.

But everyone knows the best part about the Western Montana Fair isn’t in the arena, livestock stalls or exhibition buildings.

asdfNope, the reason you’ll see us lined up outside the gates when they open is quite simple: It’s the food.

So when we heard admission to the fair would be free every day, we didn’t get excited about the extra cash for rides. We started drooling over vikings, tater pigs, fry bread, deep fried Oreo cookies and the lot.

We’re talking about lunch, ya’ll.

Our favorite hour of the day just got sweeter because now, or at least for one glorious week in August, we can gain free access to the best food under the sun. Get in, chow down, maybe pet a pig or two, and back to the office.

And STILL head back later that night for the rides and rodeos.

Friends, we’ve been dieting all year for this, and we hope you’ll join us. Let’s make it a lunch date. And a dinner date. Shoot, we might even have to hit ’em up for some breakfast …

The Western Montana Fair runs Aug. 8-13. Tune in and follow us on Facebook for lots of great giveaways in the coming two weeks.!

Click HERE for all the fair information you need, including a schedule of events and a map.

And here’s what you’ve been waiting for – the complete list of food vendors and menu items for this year’s fair:


We recently called on all our local JackFM listeners to hit us with their best ‘Missoula’ shot for a chance to win a concert ticket package, and boy did you deliver!

We received nearly 100 unique entries, with photos ranging from majestic mountaintop shots to  personal stories to the cheeky “only in Missoula” types.

Needless to say, picking a winner was hard.

We like to draw our winners randomly, but for this contest we wanted to give a bonus boost to those with great photos. So this time we picked a small number range randomly, and then from those selections picked our favorite photo.

We’re excited to announce Donna Mitchell as our winner. Donna sent in what appears to be a beautiful retro-style wedding photo shot at the grizzly bear statue on the UM campus.

It’s uniquely Missoula for two reasons: One, it depicts the gorgeous campus, including Main Hall and the zigzag trail up to the M. But also, it captures love. With all the bitterness and in-fighting and fear going on in the world today, there’s plenty to celebrate about small moments of serenity like this.

So congrats, Donna, and thank you for participating. We will be blowing this up into a high-quality print and framing it over at Frame of Mind, and in addition to free tickets to see Melissa Etheridge and Pat Benatar at the new Kettlehouse Amphitheater we’ll also award you a $50 gift certificate to the gallery.

Below is a gallery of some of the other finalists. Check ’em out!

We have a winner!
Help a neighbor in crisis

Missoula is known for a lot of good things, but chief among them is our willingness to look out for our neighbors in need.

Unfortunately, now is one of those times.

Eight-year-old Lolo resident Carli Miller was killed on Highway 93 earlier this month when her family’s vehicle was struck head-on by a pickup truck.

22343108_1500344664.7501The Millers were headed out to enjoy one of this region’s greatest summer pastimes – a day of huckleberry-picking. And now their lives will never be the same.

In addition to Carli’s tragic death, several other family members were hospitalized with serious injuries. And so now in addition to their heartbreak, they also face financial crisis.

Only time will help soften the former; but for the latter we as a community can do a lot to make things easier.

A benefit fundraiser has been set up for Aug. 6, 2-7 pm at Roper’s Lounge, 10565 US Highway 12. It will feature live music by Zoo City as well as lots of opportunities to contribute financially through live and silent auctions, raffles, etc.

But there’s another way you can pitch in, especially if you own or operate a business or organization: Consider donating to the auctions and raffles.

Art, furniture, trips, construction items, athletic gear – even gift baskets of food, coffee, drinks, gift certificates. Anything you can give up, Miller’s supporters will gladly come and pick up.

All you have to do is call Frank at Ropers Lounge. That’s 273-4848.

If you are inclined to drop your donations off, however, you don’t have to take them all the way to Lolo. Drop-sites have been set up at two Missoula businesses: Garden City Plumbing, 4025 Flynn Lane; and Western Title & Escrow, 1200 S Reserve, Suite M.

Nothing eases the pain of tragedy, but a lot can ease the unnecessary inconveniences that come along with it.

Thank you, Missoula, for stepping up to the plate!