The Maclay Flat trail is reached by going south from Missoula on Hwy 93. Turn right on Blue Mountain Road at traffic light near the Fitness Center and follow it two miles to a signed parking area.
The trail is a 2-mile loop that includes a riparian zone along the Bitterroot River, a ponderosa pine plantation, and several small marshes. Common spring and summer birds include Wood Duck, Cinnamon Teal, American Kestrel, Pileated Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, nuthatches, Warbling Vireo, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Chipping Sparrow. Winter birds include Great Horned Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, woodpeckers, Clark’s Nutcracker, chickadees, nuthatches, and Red Crossbill. Bald Eagles may be seen year round near their nest in a large tree from the east end of the trail.
Before reaching Maclay Flat, you pass the Forest Service road to Blue Mountain 1.5 miles from Hwy 93. Turn left on this road, which quickly elevates to more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor and passes through Douglas-fir and western larch forest. Watch for Dusky Flycatcher, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Clark’s Nutcracker, Townsend’s Solitaire, Western Tanager, kinglets, warblers, chickadees, and nuthatches.