The Montrose Antenna Trail is a short shoulder-season hike with scenic views of the Columbia River Valley. The trail network includes options to make a smaller loop on the Antenna Trail or to climb higher on the Flagpole Trail extension.
Distance, round trip: 3.2km (Antenna Loop) or 5.1km (Flagpole Trail & traverse)
Elevation: +217m (Antenna Loop) or +307m (Flagpole Trail)
Season: early April to mid November
The main trailhead is located just up from 5th St in the Village of Montrose.
Up along the Antenna Trail
The Antenna Trail network is on a south-facing slope so it was snow-free in early spring with plenty of buds and sprouts along the path. The trail starts with a climb and starts winding west towards some higher bluffs.
There are scenic benches scattered along the way, looking out over Montrose and the Columbia River Valley.
We passed the junction that turns the Antenna Trail into a loop, and continued left on the main trail, contouring north around the slope to face the City of Trail in the distance.
The Antenna Trail passed another scenic bench, then continues to climb and weave through stands of aspen and bluffs of rock. Early spring had plenty of muddy sections along the trail, but also clusters of yellow buttercups.
Higher to the Flagpole
After about 2km, we reached the junction that climbs higher to the Flagpole viewpoint and headed up. The trail was much steeper here with a steady climb switchbacking up the slope.
However the Flagpole extension is a short trail, and within 1km we were at the top:
The view at the Flagpole was terrific! We watched a plane turning along the runway at the Trail Airport below and enjoyed wide views of Beaver Valley and the Columbia.
While we were having lunch, a Bald Eagle floated by on the breeze, just a few meters away.
There was a lid of dark clouds above us, but an interpretative sign explained how on a clear day we could see the peaks of the Seven Summits range.
Down the Other Side
Most hikers seem to head back down the Flagpole Trail again and continue with the Antenna Loop, however, we took another trail that led east in a longer traverse over the slope.
This other trail dipped down into some tall aspen stands with running creeks and patches of snow. And in one of the biggest aspen stands, we found aspens that were carved up with bear scratches.
The trail continued down the slope at an easy pace, eventually picking up an old road and dipping back down to a gated trailhead in Montrose on Christie Avenue. We followed city streets back to the main trailhead and were back at the car within 3 hours.