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Outside of the Missoula City limits, East Missoula residents march to a slightly different cadence.
East Missoula is named for its directional relationship with Missoula, but in some ways it’s a community all its own. Through the Hellgate Canyon and the eastern side of Mount Jumbo, you’ll discover an open valley that follows the meandering contours of the Clark Fork River. This is East Missoula. The canyon entryway leads you into an entirely different mountainscape and may make you feel as though you’re miles away from town. Yet East Missoula is an easy three-mile bike ride to the University of Montana and a quick car ride to almost anywhere. With I-90 access, East Missoulians can make it to the airport in 10 minutes and can be downtown in five. There are very few commercial businesses in this neighborhood and most are located along the main thoroughfare, Highway 200. The highway gives East Missoulians a jump on others heading up the Blackfoot River, a mere five minutes away. Residents are laid back and friendly. Expect acknowledging waves from those passing in their cars, from kids riding their bikes, and conversation about the weather or the water levels from fellow dog walkers along the river. Neighbors like to share in the tranquil views and the community that sets them just slightly apart from the rest.


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A neighborhood of activity just on the other side of town.

East Missoula Clark Fork River View

Like many other parts of town, the river also runs through East Missoula. The Clark Fork makes a gallant turn near the Sha-Ron fishing access and under the Deer Creek bridge before it continues its journey into town. The bend provides a natural border for the Canyon River Golf Course, located on the river’s south side. A walking trail traces this border and is a wonderfully accessible place for neighbors to enjoy the water, get some exercise, and even spy some of the resident birds. Bald eagles are majestic and frequent visitors to this part of the river, swooping high above the water to survey their domain before landing among the tall pines along the banks. Osprey too like this part of the river and share it with plenty of mallards and Canada geese. A familiar blue heron can also be spotted at certain points of the day, balanced on one spindly leg near the whites of a riffle, just waiting for the next trout to come by. Anglers can access the river at Sha-Ron or find a spot upstream to wade. Following the removal of the Milltown Dam in 2008 the Blackfoot River now flows freely into the Clark Fork just a few miles from East Missoula. It’s not unusual to see trucks towing drift boats or brightly colored fishing rafts up Highway 200 into the Blackfoot Canyon. It’s also not uncommon to see cyclists in wind-defying garb heading that way as well. There are many hunters that live in East Missoula too. In season, you’ll often see trucks hauling recently harvested elk or deer coming down the highway from the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks checkpoint at Bonner. In the off-season, many practice their marksmanship at the Deer Creek Shooting Center nearby. While the highway is a recreation corridor through the neighborhood, some walkers and hikers prefer to take the high road and climb the trails and roads on Mount Jumbo. If you’re ambitious, you can even hike over the saddle and end up in the Rattlesnake Neighborhood. There are other hikes up Marshall Canyon where a now-closed ski area still exists and is used for special events – including hosting the Hell’s Angels motorcycle rally. And while it’s not as closely accessible to the neighborhood as other walking and hiking trails, the Kim Williams Nature Trail extends from the UM campus all the way to the intersection of Deer Creek Road and the railroad tracks in East Missoula. When they’re not playing hard, East Missoulians are hard working people, who pour energy into remodeling their homes and beautifying their yards. Mature trees and established gardens grow happily in the sunshine here. Neighbors also enjoy spending time with their families. Extended family members live near one another and people get together to visit, barbeque, and take walks along the river. Neighbors gather for special events at the East Missoula Community Center, including an annual spaghetti dinner where vats of red sauce are stirred ceremoniously with a boat paddle. The Annual East Missoula Easter Egg Hunt draws hundreds to the community to search for eggs and join in a community barbeque. And of course there’s Missoula’s “other” fireworks display that takes place on the Fourth of July in East Missoula. Neighbors who aren’t putting on their own pyrotechnic presentations are sitting out in their front yards in lawn chairs taking in the show. For picnics or play dates, Canyon View Park is a quaint neighborhood respite on a quiet residential street. The playground at the old Mount Jumbo School is also a gathering place with picnic shelters and playground equipment, including swings made from old T-bars that were likely salvaged from the Marshall Mountain Ski Area. The school’s baseball diamond is particularly hopping during Mount Jumbo Little League games in the summer. From all-American traditions like baseball and fireworks to simple pleasures like petting the friendly neighborhood dog as you walk to the park, East Missoula embodies the idea of neighborhood. It may not be quite as connected to the rest of town, but East Missoulians are still connected to Missoula with a shared appreciation for the beautiful and comfortable place we call home.

  Local Stories

There are only a handful of businesses in East Missoula today. The Reno Bar and Café is a mainstay as is Moss’ Barbershop, but for the most part the area is residential. But back when Missoula was becoming a town, East Missoula played a major role in building that history. What locals still call Brickyard Hill on Highway 200 was once the site of the Missoula Brick and Tile Co. The company was established in 1908 to provide locally made bricks for Missoula buildings, including the “common” structural bricks as well as the aesthetic “face” bricks that can be seen on building exteriors. Residents of the Brickyard Hill area frequently dig up brick shards when excavating their yards. Read more about Missoula’s brick history, which incredibly dates back to the time of Glacial Lake Missoula, here. Another part of history was recently deconstructed near East Missoula. The 100-year-old Milltown Dam was removed as part of a major environmental clean-up effort. A century of toxic sediment from the mines in Anaconda and Butte had built up behind the dam wall, threatening to contaminate the groundwater and Montana’s native bull trout population. The Milltown Dam removal is the nation’s largest Superfund Cleanup site and is already restoring one of Montana’s signature watersheds to its original greatness. When the dam itself was breached in 2008, observers watched and celebrated from viewpoints above the river as the Blackfoot River flowed into the Clark Fork River after a century of manmade restraint. Read more about this historic event here. When the Canyon River Golf Course opened in 2006, much of its charm was its somewhat wild surroundings. Proximity to the river ensured occasional interaction between natural inhabitants and the golfers. Just after the course’s opening a resident red fox was spotted swiping stray balls or, more brazenly, perfectly placed shots on the green and scampering away to her yet undiscovered stockpile. On the whole, golfers were pleasant about the pilfering, plus it made for a great golf story to tell their buddies at the 19th hole. Read an “interview” with the infamous fox here.