9.0 miles
Distance
3,934 ft
Climb
-880 ft
Descent
1 mile
High Point
Supporters, Builders, Maintainers & Land Managers of Ranch Creek Trail

  • USFS
    Land Manager

Ranch Creek Details

  • Activities
    • Mountain Bike
    • Hike
    • Trail Running
  • Riding Area
    Missoula
    , Montana
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Trail Type
    Singletrack
  • Bike Type
    AM, XC, Fat
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
    Double Black Diamond
  • Physical Rating
    Hard
  • Dogs Allowed
    Yes
  • eBike Allowed
  • TTFs on Trail
    Rock Garden, Other
  • Global Ranking
    #78775 in Mountain Biking
  • Local Popularity
    20 in Mountain Biking [+]
    • 5 in Trail Running
    • 5 in Hiking
  • Land Manager

Do not be fooled by your maps, most of this trail is on low angle terrain in the bottom of a valley but the riding is quite technical and difficult; a full suspension bike is recommended. The trail begins in a small parking lot just past the Grizzly Campground, but the bridge over the creek is washed out; secondary access is through the campground.

The trail starts out all well and good for a mile or two as you ride past an old homestead, then shortly after it crosses the creek on the log bridge things get quite technical. The trail passes through the base of several talus fields that will require slow speed technical riding skills and the willingness to hike your bike for short distances.

After 5 miles of riding/walking your bike, you'll reach a junction with the Flat Gulch Trail (some maps label it Chico Gulch). This is roughly the halfway point and the end of the ultra technical part of the trail. Once you pass the Flat Gulch trail, the Ranch Creek trail becomes a real backcountry adventure ride. The trail enters an old burn area with tall grass often obscuring the trail, continued rough sections that require hike-a-bike, and even some minor route finding once you begin to climb up to the Hog Back Ridge. The open burn area is beautiful and offers some great views of the surrounding hills and peaks; there is an obvious outfitter camp on the west side of the valley and the trail looks like it heads over a dilapidated bridge but keep heading south to stay on course.

At roughly 7 miles in, the trail disappears in thick brush and a spring and requires a short hike-a-bike on the talus field just to the east. Once on the talus, you'll see a well-constructed bridge over the creek. Cross two bridges and begin to ascend up some switchbacks. Keep an eye out for the trail as you get higher on the ridge as it comes and goes for a little over a mile until it reappears for a nice bit of riding to the Hog Back Ridge Trail.

Ride the Ranch Creek Trail as an out and back or if you are feeling strong and adventurous, link up with some of the other trails in the area or make a bid for Quigg Peak. Be sure to bring a repair kit, first aid kit, bear spray, etc. as this trail could do a number on you and/or your bike; it's a long way to get help if you need it and there is no cell service anywhere on this trail. There is a lot of water in this area so bring some kind of filter

Access Info

Drive east on I90 out of Missoula to Rock Creek. Head south on Rock Creek and take a left toward the Grizzly Campground. Parking area is just past the campground.

Local Trail Association
Traditionally Indigenous Territory
More Stats for Ranch Creek mountain bike trail trail
  • Altitude change
    3,055 ft
  • Altitude min
    4,073 ft
  • Altitude start
    4,083 ft
  • Altitude end
    7,138 ft
  • Grade
    6.423%
  • Grade max
    -40.2%
  • Grade min
    49.255%
  • Distance climb
    7 miles
  • Distance down
    2 miles
  • Distance flat
    460 ft
  • Avg reverse time
    08:42:51
  • view trail stats
Status:
on Jun 2, 2022
Ideal
Avg: 3.5 (2 votes)
Your vote: 0

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Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Snow Cover Inadequate
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Ideal
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
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      Ranch Creek Trail Reports

      statusdatedescription
      Jun 2, 2022 @ 5:25pm
      Jun 2, 2022
      Rode to 5 miles to Flat Gulch. Some trees down.
      Oct 3, 2020 @ 3:31pm
      Oct 3, 2020
      reporter Only went about 4 miles up but trees had been cleared recently. Looks to recieve use from horse packers.
      view all reports »

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