Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pioneer Ridge training hike

Wayne Phillips at the Pioneer Ridge trailhead
The Pioneer Ridge in the Little Belt Mountains runs 10 miles at just over 5,000 feet in elevation from the Belt Creek Ranger Station between Monarch and Neihart to 9,000 feet + Big Baldy.
It is a narrow ridge that rises steeply at its start and weaves its way between heavy forest and open parks in this range of rounded, forested peaks.
The open parks are garden spots of wildflowers of every kind.  We saw dozens of varieties on our hike there on Wednesday.
As my fellow climber Wayne Phillips and I condition ourselves for summer hikes and backpack trips, we're looking to set up a routine where we can quickly get 2,000-3,000 feet of elevation gain.
This ridge is just perfect.  It is less than a hour's drive from Great Falls (50 miles), and it is very scenic.
Wednesday we encountered rain showers off and on, but the sun poked its head out after every sprinkle.
We gained 2,600 feet, yet we didn't eat up an entire day.
Unfortunately, this trail is used heavily by motorcycles that are causing deep rutting and extensive erosion.
We've set  a weekly date for a training hike on this gorgeous ridge.

A variety of photos on our Pioneer Ridge training hike

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