River’s Edge Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the River’s Edge Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 53 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Great Falls Park and Recreation Department
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: https://www.thetrail.org/

The River’s Edge Trail is a scenic pathway located in Great Falls, Montana, that stretches along the banks of the Missouri River. The trail has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s when the area was explored by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, along with their Corps of Discovery, passed through this region during their famous expedition to explore the western territories of the United States.

In the late 1800s, Great Falls became a bustling industrial city due to the presence of several hydroelectric dams along the Missouri River. These dams provided power for the city’s flourishing industries, including mining, smelting, and agriculture. As the city grew, the riverfront became a hub of activity, with warehouses, mills, and factories lining the riverbanks.

However, as the industrial era waned in the mid-20th century, the riverfront area fell into disrepair. The River’s Edge Trail was born out of a community effort to revitalize the riverfront and reconnect the city with its natural beauty. In the 1980s, local residents and organizations came together to develop a plan for a multi-use trail that would provide recreational opportunities and showcase the area’s historical significance.

Over the years, the River’s Edge Trail has expanded to cover over 60 miles, offering a variety of experiences for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts. The trail meanders through diverse landscapes, including riverbanks, prairies, and forests, providing breathtaking views of the Missouri River and the surrounding countryside. Along the trail, visitors can find interpretive signs and markers that highlight the historical landmarks and events that shaped the region, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the industrial era, and the Native American presence.

Today, the River’s Edge Trail stands as a testament to the community’s dedication to preserving the area’s history and natural beauty. It serves as a popular recreational destination and a living history lesson, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Great Falls and the Missouri River.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. West Bank Park Trailhead
2. Giant Springs State Park Trailhead
3. Rainbow Dam Trailhead
4. Broadwater Bay Trailhead
5. Black Eagle Memorial Island Trailhead
6. Morony Dam Trailhead
7. Ryan Island Park Trailhead
8. Oddfellows Park Trailhead
9. Warden Park Trailhead
10. Tower Rock State Park Trailhead
11. Cochrane Dam Trailhead
12. Crooked Falls Trailhead
13. Hardy Creek Trailhead
14. Hardy Creek Bridge Trailhead
15. Dearborn River Trailhead
16. Cascade Trailhead
17. Eden Bridge Trailhead
18. Great Falls Overlook Trailhead
19. Sluice Boxes State Park Trailhead
20. Belt Creek Trailhead

Transportation Available

1. River’s Edge Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation along the River’s Edge Trail.
2. Bike Rentals – Rent a bike to explore the River’s Edge Trail at your own pace.
3. Taxi Services – On-demand taxi services for quick transportation to and from the River’s Edge Trail.
4. Public Bus – Local bus service with stops near the River’s Edge Trail for affordable transportation.
5. Car Rental – Rent a car to easily access and explore the River’s Edge Trail and surrounding areas.
6. Ride-Sharing Services – Convenient ride-sharing options for transportation to and from the River’s Edge Trail.
7. Pedicabs – Pedal-powered transportation service offering a unique and eco-friendly way to travel along the River’s Edge Trail.
8. Electric Scooter Rentals – Rent an electric scooter for a fun and efficient way to navigate the River’s Edge Trail.
9. Walking – Enjoy a leisurely walk to access the River’s Edge Trail and nearby attractions.


The amenities available at the River’s Edge Trail may vary depending on the specific location or section of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that can be found along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These restrooms can be found at designated trailheads or parks along the trail.

2. Parking: There are parking areas provided at various trailheads and access points along the River’s Edge Trail. These parking lots allow visitors to park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: Some sections of the trail may offer designated camping sites for overnight stays. These camping sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the River’s Edge Trail, you may find designated picnic areas with picnic tables, benches, and sometimes even grills. These areas provide a scenic spot for visitors to enjoy a meal or relax.

5. Water Fountains: In certain sections of the trail, you may find water fountains or hydration stations where visitors can refill their water bottles.

6. Bike Racks: The trail may have bike racks available at various points, allowing cyclists to securely park their bikes while they explore the area on foot.

7. Trailhead Facilities: Some trailheads along the River’s Edge Trail may have additional amenities such as visitor centers, information boards, and maps to provide visitors with information about the trail and surrounding area.

It is recommended to check the specific section or location of the River’s Edge Trail you plan to visit for more detailed information on the available amenities.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– River’s Edge Trail Inn – Cozy inn located right along the River’s Edge Trail.
– Riverside Campground – Campground offering scenic views of the trail and nearby river.
– Trailside Bed and Breakfast – Charming B&B conveniently situated near the trail.

2. Food Services:
– River’s Edge Cafe – Quaint cafe serving delicious meals and snacks.
– Trailside Grill – Casual grill offering a variety of tasty dishes.
– Riverside Picnic Area – Scenic picnic spot with beautiful views of the river.

3. Emergency Services:
– River’s Edge Hospital – Nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.
– Trailside Pharmacy – Pharmacy offering essential medications and healthcare products.
– Riverside Police Station – Local police station ensuring safety along the trail.

River’s Edge Trail Difficulty Notes

The River’s Edge Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for a wide range of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its diverse terrain and varying elevations, the trail provides a good balance between challenge and accessibility. While some sections may require a bit of effort, such as steep inclines or rocky paths, the overall trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate. Whether you are a beginner looking to push your limits or an experienced hiker seeking a scenic adventure, the River’s Edge Trail offers a satisfying level of difficulty that can be enjoyed by all.

Features And Attractions

1. Giant Springs State Park: This park is home to one of the largest freshwater springs in the country and offers stunning views of the Missouri River. It also has a visitor center, picnic areas, and walking trails.

2. Ryan Dam: Located on the Missouri River, Ryan Dam offers a picturesque view of the river and the surrounding landscape. It is a popular spot for fishing and boating.

3. Rainbow Dam: Another dam along the Missouri River, Rainbow Dam offers beautiful views of the river and the Great Falls area. It has a walking trail that allows visitors to explore the area.

4. Black Eagle Falls: This waterfall is located on the Missouri River and is a popular spot for photography and sightseeing. It is one of the five waterfalls along the River’s Edge Trail.

5. Crooked Falls: Another waterfall along the River’s Edge Trail, Crooked Falls offers a scenic view of the Missouri River. It is a great spot for hiking and picnicking.

6. Colter Falls: Located near the town of Ulm, Colter Falls is a small waterfall that offers a peaceful and scenic view of the Missouri River. It is a great spot for relaxation and photography.

7. First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park: This historical site is located along the River’s Edge Trail and offers a glimpse into the Native American culture. It was once used as a buffalo hunting ground and has interpretive trails and exhibits.

8. Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center: This center is dedicated to the famous explorers Lewis and Clark and offers exhibits and displays about their journey along the Missouri River. It provides a historical perspective on the area.

9. Tower Rock State Park: Tower Rock is a natural landmark along the Missouri River and offers a unique geological formation. It is a popular spot for hiking and birdwatching.

10. Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge: Located near the River’s Edge Trail, Benton Lake is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It offers scenic views of the lake and the surrounding wetlands, making it a great spot for birdwatching and photography.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and skateboards are allowed on the trail but must yield to pedestrians.
4. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
5. No camping or overnight stays are allowed.
6. Fires and open flames are prohibited.
7. Fishing is allowed in designated areas only and requires a valid fishing license.
8. Swimming or wading in the river is not permitted.
9. Hunting or trapping is strictly prohibited.
10. Littering is not allowed; please use designated trash bins.
11. Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during wildlife mating or nesting seasons.
12. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
13. Observe and respect any posted signs or warnings.
14. Use caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially during inclement weather.
15. Alcohol consumption is not allowed on the trail.
16. Be considerate of other trail users and maintain a safe and respectful environment.

Seasonal Information

The River’s Edge Trail is a picturesque and popular trail located in Great Falls, Montana. Spanning over 53 miles, this trail offers breathtaking views of the Missouri River, lush greenery, and diverse wildlife. While the trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the River’s Edge Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, and the weather is generally pleasant with mild temperatures. It is an ideal time for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the riverbank. Additionally, springtime offers the opportunity to witness the river’s wildlife awakening from their winter slumber, making it a great time for birdwatching and spotting other animals.

Another fantastic time to visit the River’s Edge Trail is during the fall season, specifically in September and October. As the leaves change colors, the trail transforms into a stunning display of autumn hues. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an excellent time for outdoor activities, such as hiking or jogging. Fall also brings a sense of tranquility to the trail, as it is less crowded compared to the summer months, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

It is important to note that the River’s Edge Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow and ice, making it unsafe for visitors. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the trail’s official website for any closures or updates before planning your visit. However, even during these closures, there are still parts of the trail that remain accessible, offering opportunities for winter activities such as cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.


1. Wheelchair-Accessible Trails: The River’s Edge Trail offers several wheelchair-accessible trails that are paved and provide smooth surfaces for easy mobility.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available at various trailheads along the River’s Edge Trail.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with grab bars and ample space for wheelchair maneuverability are located at certain trailheads.
4. Trailhead Accessibility: Many trailheads are designed to be accessible, featuring ramps or level pathways for easy access to the trail.
5. Accessible Picnic Areas: Some picnic areas along the River’s Edge Trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, providing accessible tables and seating options.
6. Accessible Fishing Platforms: Wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms are available at certain points along the trail, allowing individuals with disabilities to enjoy fishing activities.
7. Braille and Tactile Signage: Informational signage along the River’s Edge Trail includes Braille and tactile elements to ensure accessibility for individuals with visual impairments.
8. Accessible Water Fountains: Accessible water fountains with lower spouts and clearances for wheelchair users are available at various points along the trail.
9. Assistance Animals: The River’s Edge Trail welcomes assistance animals, such as guide dogs, to accompany individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Trail Maps: Trail maps with accessible formats, such as large print or digital versions, are provided to ensure individuals with visual impairments can navigate the trail effectively.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas.
2. Be aware of wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and avoid feeding or approaching them.
3. Carry bear spray: In bear country, have bear spray readily accessible and know how to use it.
4. Dress appropriately: Wear sturdy footwear, dress in layers, and bring rain gear or sun protection as needed.
5. Stay hydrated: Carry enough water and stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or strenuous activities.
6. Use sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days.
7. Watch for cyclists: Be aware of cyclists sharing the trail and yield to them when necessary.
8. Be cautious of steep slopes: Take extra care when navigating steep or slippery sections of the trail.
9. Use caution near water: Be cautious near rivers, streams, or any bodies of water, as they may have strong currents or unstable banks.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit with you in case of minor injuries or emergencies.
11. Inform someone of your plans: Let someone know your intended route and estimated return time for safety purposes.
12. Stay alert and aware: Pay attention to your surroundings, watch for trail markers, and be mindful of any potential hazards.
13. Respect trail etiquette: Yield to hikers going uphill, keep noise levels down, and leave no trace by packing out your trash.
14. Avoid hiking alone: Whenever possible, hike with a companion for added safety and enjoyment.
15. Check weather conditions: Be aware of weather forecasts and avoid the trail during severe weather conditions.
16. Stay on the trail during hunting seasons: If the trail passes through hunting areas, wear bright colors and make your presence known.
17. Carry a whistle or signaling device: Have a whistle or other signaling device to attract attention in case of an emergency.
18. Be prepared for emergencies: Familiarize yourself with basic wilderness first aid and know how to handle common outdoor emergencies.
19. Follow any posted rules or regulations: Observe any specific rules or regulations posted along the trail for the safety of all users.
20. Trust your instincts: If something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and make the necessary adjustments to ensure your safety.

Conservation Notes

The River’s Edge Trail is a conservation success story, as it is considered to be in a relatively stable conservation status. The trail is located in the state of Montana, USA, and spans approximately 60 miles along the Missouri River. It is managed by a partnership between the City of Great Falls and the River’s Edge Trail Foundation.

The conservation status of the River’s Edge Trail is primarily focused on preserving and protecting the natural habitats and wildlife along its route. Efforts have been made to minimize human impact on the trail, ensuring that it remains a safe haven for various plant and animal species. The trail passes through diverse ecosystems, including riparian areas, grasslands, and forests, providing a range of habitats for wildlife.

Conservation efforts along the River’s Edge Trail include regular monitoring and maintenance of the trail and its surroundings. This includes managing invasive plant species, controlling erosion, and restoring degraded areas. Additionally, educational programs and initiatives are in place to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and responsible trail use among visitors and local communities.

Overall, the conservation status of the River’s Edge Trail is considered to be positive, with ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance its ecological integrity. The trail serves as a valuable resource for both recreational activities and environmental education, while also contributing to the preservation of the natural heritage of the region.

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