Features: The Backbone Trail rises slightly to the open Mount Jumbo saddle then climbs through the forest to the top of the mountain, taking in views over Missoula.
Flowers: A lot is in bloom in the saddle right now – red and yellow blanketflower, pink and yellow owl clover, a few pale pink bitterroots and clarkia, Clarkia pulchella. These flowers are hard to miss, with four bright pink, three-lobed petals and a white, four-lobed stigma in the center. The plants are 4 to 20 inches tall and are growing in large patches right now. (“Wildflowers of Montana,” by Donald Anthony Schiemann)
Description: The Jumbo saddle trailhead is 1 1/2 miles east of Rattlesnake Drive up Lower Lincoln Hills Drive and Lincoln Hills Drive. Follow the trail just south of the kiosk as it curves east and then south about two-thirds of a mile into the saddle area, looking for patches of bright pink clarkia on the way. From the saddle, the Backbone Trail rises, sometimes steeply, south through the trees a little more than a mile to the top of Mount Jumbo. From the top of the mountain, explore other trails or return to the trailhead.