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Great Falls has some of Montana’s best and most unique mountain biking. Although some trails depart right in town, they access remote areas of the river canyon, making all the trails a true backcountry experience. Pack accordingly. You may encounter hikers, joggers and/or wildlife on these trails so stay alert when you ride.

South Shore Trails:

The South Shore Trail is the best of the Great Falls trail network. This out and back trail rambles nearly 20 miles along the Missouri river, through yucca plants and prickly pear cactus. For the first 3.3 miles, the network offers an outer blue loop that extends over rolling terrain and an inner expert loop that meanders along rock ledges above the river with drop-offs of 50 feet in some places. After 3.3 miles only one trail continues rolling over the hilly badlands above the river. The terrain and views along this trail are amazing and seem to somehow combine the rock riding technical features of a Moab ride with the wide open space and rolling terrain of a Marin Headlands type experience. Very unique. Map here:–2

Directions: The Trailhead is located at the Rainbow Dam Viewing Area on the south side of the Missouri river on Giant Springs Road about 1.3 miles east of Giant Springs State Park. There are two viewing areas, park at the one that is furthest downstream where the paved trail crosses the road.

North Shore Trails:

Although not as consistently technical as the South Shore Trails, the North Shore trail also offers some difficult features. The full out and back ride is nearly 11 miles to Ryan Dam or cut that in half with a second shuttle car parked at Ryan Dam. The North Shore trail starts off on the rolling hills above the Missouri River. This section is not technical and can be grueling on a hot day. Shortly after passing Morony Dam the trail crosses a gravel road and enters the rocky ledges along the river. This section is fun and technical all the way to Ryan Dam. It’s possible to skip sections of this trail by riding the closed dirt road that runs the full length. The dirt road itself makes a nice family ride. Riders looking for a more technical ride often ride the road directly to Morony Dam and drop into the tougher terrain. Map here:–2

Directions: Follow Highway 87 leading out of Great Falls near Black Eagle, MT. Turn right onto 25 Ave NE aka Wire Mill Rd. After a half mile, continue straight at the fork onto Rainbow Dam Rd. Continue 3.5 miles until the road ends at the parking lot.

Highwood Mountain Loop:

This is a strenuous mountain loop that gains over 3,300 feet of vertical and covers 14.6 miles. This trail is infrequently traveled. Map here:–2

Directions: The Trailhead is located near the Thane Creek Campground in the Highwood Mountains east of Great Falls.