The Best Montana ATV Trails

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

10 Best ATV Trails in Montana

  • Ashley Lake Trail • This is a 7-mile long trail located just above Ashley Lake and is very popular throughout the summertime. It is usually closed when big game hunting season arrives.
  • Blue Mountain Road Trail • This trail includes almost 4 miles of ATV trails as well as motorcycle trails and forms part of the 4,900-acre Blue Mountain Recreation Area.
  • Hungry Horse Motocross Track • Challenging natural terrain consisting of gravel, sand, and elevation changes in a short loop circuit.
  • Koocanusa Trail • In the north-eastern section of the Koocanusa Reservoir, consisting of 20 miles of trails with large and small sand dunes around the reservoir and woodland.
  • Overwhich Falls Trail • Moderate, 8-mile trail with a few rocky and steep stretches. Used by a variety of people for different activities.
  • Darby Trails • Two long loops in the Bitterroot National Forest, clearly signposted and arrowed for vehicle type and direction.
  • Shepherd Ah Nei SRMA • Around 50 miles of trails used for various purposes, crusty terrain with moderate elevation changes.
  • Pipestone OHV Recreation Area • Around 75 miles of smooth terrain that is open all year and facilitates fairly fast riding.
  • Blacktail Wild Bill Trail • Varied gravel trail consisting of hardpack and soft soil with a few rocky patches and moderate elevation changes. With some great views!
  • Glendive Short Pine Trail • Large area of almost 3,000 acres open to all types of vehicle and consisting of mainly dry, hard-packed trails with a few steep climbs.

The 10 Best ATV Trails in Montana

1. Ashley Lake ATV Trail

ashley lake atv trail
Image: USFS, Interior West FIA

Just west of Kalispell, this trail is between May and October, and it gets pretty packed in the summertime. The trail is actually just north of the lake and comprises 7 miles of picturesque and ideal terrain for ATVs. The trailhead is marked with signs, and is open to a variety of off-road vehicles.

You can find the Forest Service-operated trail just a short distance from Ashley Lake, although it is closed during big game hunting season.

2. Blue Mountain Road Trail

blue mountain road trail
Image: Cat Wendt

Blue Mountain Recreation Area is an ideal spot from which to get some scenic views of the Missoula Valley as it is located SW of Missoula. It comprises 15-odd miles of trails for various types of vehicles, including four just for ATVs.

You’ll need an off-road sticker from the Missoula County Courthouse beforehand. Some tracks are well-maintained and fairly smooth, although you need to look out for other users during busy times like weekends and holidays.  The best time to check out the trail is sometime between May and November in the Spring and Fall seasons.

3. Hungry Horse Motocross Track

hungry horse motocross track

Hungry Horse is a track of natural terrain to the east of Columbia Falls. This steep track can be fairly challenging by way of its elevation gains. The track is about half a mile down from Colorado Boulevard near the Forest Service Station, and you’ll find campsites and all other manner of outdoor adventures going on around the trail.

The track has been established since 1980, is open all year, and charges no fees. All good!

4. Koocanusa Sand Dunes and Trail System

koocanusa sand dunes and trail system
Image: Fort Rucker

This is a large, open area that is open all year round, and yes – it has dunes! You can find this trail on the northeast corner of the Koocanusa Reservoir, with 20-odd miles of track covering woodland terrain and surrounding the reservoir.

The water levels are at their lowest between March and June which is obviously the best time to come to this region close to American Indian burial grounds. These grounds are close to the trail but are marked out with various signs. You can access the trail via Sophie Lake Road which will bring you to the lake after about 3.5 miles.

5. Overwhich Falls Trails

overwhich falls trails

This trail comprises a scenic 8-mile to Overwhich Falls. It is a fairly easy ride with the odd steep, rocky section. There may also be a few encounters with horses, hikers, and mountain bikers along the way, as well as some impressive scenery. You can find the trail just over 4 miles south of Darby, past Painted Rocks Lake.

6. Darby Trails – Bitterroot National Forest

darby trails
Image: Forest Service Northern Region

This site forms part of 50 miles of trails that were opened quite recently in part of the Bitterroot National Forest. There are two ATV loops with the longest being close to 30 miles long and the other half that distance.

The area is south of Darby, and is surrounded by some impressive views. The trails are able to accommodate both beginner and intermediate ATV riders.

You can reach the area by heading south from Darby on Highway 93, and there are parking areas with signs before the Rock Creek Road divide.

7. Shepherd Ah Nei SRMA

shepherd ah nei srma
Image: Bureau of Land Management Montana and Dakotas

The Shepherd Ah Nei SRMA (Special Recreation Management Area) is near the Montana town of Billings. It comprises 50 miles of trails, and one stretch at the southern end of the trail is a designated area for power sports riding.

This is a popular spot with vast grasslands and impressive views. You’ll need a special recreation permit to ride here but they are easy to pick up at the self-service kiosk in the parking section. The permit fees are collected in order to cover the maintenance of the site. You might consider checking the conditions first before heading up to this site as it does close if there is too much rain and mud.

8. Pipestone OHV Recreation Area

pipestone ohv recreation area
Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Pipestone Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area is situated about 15 miles southeast of Butte and comprises 75 miles of trails and dirt paths located across 30,000 acres of a former mining region.

This whole area is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and includes campsites, staging areas, and more. The site is open year-round depending on weather conditions, and the parking spot is the Pipestone Trailhead at Four Corners.

9. Blacktail Wild Bill

blacktail wild bill

The Blacktail Wild Bill trail system is close to Montana’s Lakeside and is an open stretch of forest with gravel, hardpack, and soft soil segments. The area is open for many other purposes such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding, so it can get quite busy.

There are various obstacles around the trail as well as some impressive views of nearby lakes, and the best time to head up to this place is during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months.

10. Glendive Short Pine

glendive short pine

This is a 2,800-acre recreation area with plenty of trails comprising open space and steep hills. It is located southwest of Glendive and is another of Montana’s fee-free spots. It is a dusty kind of track that also accommodates dirt bikes and UTVs.

Camping is possible in the area although there aren’t any designated camping spots, nor is there any running water to speak of. Like most of the other Montana ATV trails, this one is best visited in the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.

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About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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