MISSOULA ­– The University of Montana has launched a new logo for the M Trail, the beloved hiking trail that serves as a symbol of both the University and the City of Missoula. This initiative is part of a fundraising campaign aimed at generating essential funds to support the trail’s ongoing maintenance and preservation.

The M Trail is renowned for its iconic M landmark, which sits above 13 switchbacks and provides a panoramic view of the entire Missoula Valley. Established in 1908 by UM students, the original M was constructed from whitewashed rocks. The current concrete M, installed in 1968, measures 125 feet long and 100 feet high, making it a prominent feature of the landscape. The steep three-fourths-mile hike to the M attracts over 1,000 hikers daily, connecting them to miles of adjacent U.S. Forest Service trails and the city trail system.

"The M Trail is more than just a path ­– it’s a symbol of our community's connection to nature and a cherished part of our local culture,” said Marilyn Marler, UM’s natural areas manager. “Our new logo and merchandise line offer a unique way for supporters to show their pride and contribute to the trail’s upkeep.”

The trail, which cuts through beautiful native prairie plants that bloom every spring, is also home to various wildlife, including vesper sparrows, foxes and migratory songbirds. However, the heavy use of the trail leads to constant erosion issues, making maintenance a critical need. The University urges hikers to stay on well-established trails to help mitigate erosion.

“Thanks to grants and donations, we worked with Montana Conservation Corps and community volunteers to do $25,000 worth of trail repair this year,” Marler said. “However, every year brings new challenges.”

Hikers reaching the M will now encounter signs showcasing the new logo and a QR code. By scanning the code, visitors can access a dedicated landing page created in partnership with Wear Your Roots, an official collegiate licenser. The page features a range of branded merchandise, starting with high-quality T-shirts. A portion of the sales from these items will benefit the trail’s maintenance fund, with additional products to be introduced over time.

“We are excited to give back to the community with this new design that locals and tourists alike will be eager to sport,” said Brandon Slocum, owner of Wear Your Roots clothing. “We love the idea of giving back and offering a great T-shirt that celebrates the spirit of outdoor adventure and accomplishment. It’s an awesome way for everyone to show they took on the M challenge in beautiful Missoula, Montana.”

Future events are being planned for later this summer, featuring guided hikes, merchandise displays and opportunities to learn more about the trail’s maintenance needs. These events will celebrate community support for the M Trail.

For more information about the campaign or to purchase branded merchandise, please visit the M Trail website.

- By Phil Stempin, UM News Service -


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