It might be a bit more challenging to get to the popular 'M' trail on the University of Montana campus in the next few weeks.

According to University Relations, Mount Sentinel’s M trailhead is being remodeled to improve access to one of the state’s most popular hiking trails. UM Natural Areas Specialist Marilyn Marler says demolition of the existing trailhead and construction of the new trailhead will take about two weeks. The trail to the M is open during construction and the public can walk around the work zone to reach the trail at the top of the stairs.

"We are redoing the whole trailhead area including the restrooms," Marler said. "As you approach the mountain there has just not been good traffic flow, so we've worked with some landscape designers to just start over."

Marler described some of the proposed changes.

"It's all going to be one level," she said. "Right now there's just a small seating area that's inside a somewhat strange bus shelter, so that part will be opened up for a wide seating bench. At the top of the seating bench will be the donor recognition area, because we're doing this whole project with just community donations."

Run Wild Missoula, Missoula’s running club, is the lead donor on the remodel with a $16,000 cash donation. Montana Native Landscapes and WGM Group made significant in-kind donations and about a dozen local individuals and businesses made cash donations as well.

The project is still accepting donations, which can be made online at http://www.mtrail.org or by calling Marler at 406-544-7189. Those who donate $500 or more will receive an engraved capstone at the new trailhead.

Marilyn Marler