Marshall Mountain was a popular ski area for the Missoula community from the late 1930s to the early 2000s. Since its closure, it has become a popular backcountry spot for skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers. Last spring, the land was sold to a party that wanted to take away public access, but that deal fell through. Shortly afterward, a Missoula developer bought the land with hopes of eventually transferring it to the city of Missoula. Since then, the land has stayed open to the public and even hosted the Montana Backcountry Alliance backcountry film festival. The big question for the land is what will the city of Missoula do once they own it.
According to Missoulian, 1300 people responded to the city survey, and there were ninety-three people in their stakeholder meetings. For the upper mountain, residents want to see “passive recreation/open space, followed by an upper mountain shelter, backcountry campsites and a surface or aerial lift.” There is a triple chairlift that is still standing, but it’s unclear if it still works, or if it can be renovated. For the base area, locals are hoping for a “bike skills park, open-air pavilion, a snow sliding/tubing area, a beginner ski area, and an outdoor stage.” In terms of the trails, respondents were looking for “mountain bike-only trails, beginner and intermediate biking trails, easier climbing trail access, and dedicated backcountry skiing areas.” While these are some awesome ideas that I hope come to fruition, this will take some time. A public process and approval will need to take place before Marshall Mountain is in Missoula’s hands.