Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fairview Mountain is aptly named

Dwight Smith atop Fairview Mountain in the Front

In the wildflowers below the great saddle

Dwight Smith on the summit ridge to Fairview Mountain

Heading down

Full view of Fairview Mountain

This is a relatively easy and simple mountain climb west of Augusta in the Rocky Mountain Front just off the Beaver Creek-Willow/Benchmark roads junction.
Yet, it offers a series of waterfalls, terrific views and wild country.
This was the fourth time I've climbed this mountain, but the first time on this easy route that I highly recommend.
This route is 8.5 miles long with about 3,100 feet in elevation gained, but the distance can be shaved by going up or coming down the mountain sooner than the saddle I recommend.
Fairview Mountain is visible on the Great Falls skyline, so it makes it ready target for climbing.
The climb involves taking the Willow Creek Falls Trail No. 204 just beyond the old Scoutana Girls Scout camp.
There are two fences at the parking area.  Duck under the one furthest to your left (south) and follow it to Willow Creek, staying away from the private road.  The trail is easy to pick up here.Walk up through the Willow Creek Falls and tight canyon on Fairview's southern flank.Just beyond the that southern end there is a creek bottom (sometimes dry in summer). Leave the trail and cross tje creek bed, looking up to the left where there is a ridge topped by a rocky crown.  Traverse this to a large snag about  250  above.  There is a good break in the wall here and the top can be gained.
On top, it is a simple and glorious walk through tall grass to a large saddle that is bare on its western flank.  There are numerous good game and cattle trails to follow to this swale.
Once there, proceed directly uphill another 700 feet to the summit ridge.
It is a glorious walk to the top ---- the southern-most high point --- along an exposed ridge.
The false (north) summits below are reachable from a low point on this ridge, an easy and worthwhile hike.
The 360 views from on top are remarkable ----- Scapegoat Wilderness to southwest, Bob Marshall Wilderness to west, Patrick's Basin and Teton high peaks of the Front to the north and east, and Sawtooth Mountain directly east.  Below you east and south is Haystack Butte and the island ranges of central Montana.
For route map, more photos and graph CLICK HERE

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