This is one of the best short trails I've ever ridden. There is a steep climb right from the start for about 3/4 mile gaining probably around 500 feet. After this, you swoop dow the side of the mountain along a bunch of switchbacks with the occasional short uphill. This is a great training loop and good fun overall. It has lots of whoops so you can catch some air and you get a lot of downhill bang for your climbing buck. After the first climb, which is rough at first, it is almost all downhill for about 3 miles through some nice pine forest. You might encounter some hikers as you near the trailhead. Also, the trail circles some groomed cross country ski trails, so in the summer there are some wide, mostly flat trails for the beginner riders to get a feel for the mountain bike experience. The trail isn't too technical, it just requires a little bit of climbing and some quick switchback turns.
How to get there:
From downtown Missoula: Go South past the University of Montana on 12 towards Lolo. Get on SW Higgins, take that past the Women's Soccer field on the left. Then take a left on Pattee Canyon Rd. Follow Pattee Canyon for about 3 miles until you reach the parking at the trailhead. Also on the way, you pass the parking for the Crazy Canyon trailhead. this is another nice up and back ride to the top of Mt. Sentinel with a great view of downtown Missoula and the surrounding valley.