Thursday, May 07, 2015

Ford Creek Basin exploratory

Fairview Mountain dominates the horizon near the Scoutana trailhead

The trail follows below an exposed ridge with many openings, revealing grassy parks

Above the Ford Creek Basin
After Tuesday's foray up the North Fork Ford Creek, I just had to take a look at the Ford Creek Basin hike, Trail No. 258 that travels 5 miles below a high, limestone ridge on the east face of the Front near Willow Creek outside Augusta.
I wasn't disappointed.
We chose to hike from the trailhead just west of Camp Scoutana south to the Benchmark Road.
You gain elevation immediately in a thick forest environment of healthy trees.  Some 500 feet are gained in the first half mile.
I emphasize "healthy" as contrasted with most of the rest of the Front, hammered by mountain pine beetle infestations and fires.
An early Fairy Slipper orchid in bloom
It was refreshing to be in a forest that hadn't been hit by either of those two events yet.
The ridge line shows itself frequently in the breaks of grassy parks, which also offer views of the Great Plains to the east.
Rock cairns have been placed as trail markers on those grassy parks.
This is cattle grazing country and it appears to be in pretty good shape.  It is also the horseback playground for dudes from the nearby guest ranch.
We covered nearly 3 miles before hitting the high saddle that revealed below us the basin that descends into the Benchmark Road.
At this time of year it is lush and green.  There are wildflowers of all kinds everywhere you look.
Instead of dropping down to the road, we turned around and walked back.
Although it had been blustery and there was some new snow, the sun came out after lunch and we got terrific views to the north and east of Fairview Mountain and Lime Gulch.
This is a great point-to-point hike, where cars could be left at Benchmark Road (almost at the Ford Creek Guest Ranch gate) and Scoutana/Willow Creek (just beyond the Girl Scout camp).
It is 5 miles long with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain.

For more on the hike, Click here

Walking back to the car

The hills were lit up by Arrowroots

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