Monday, October 12, 2015

Heart of Highwoods: Loop the Loop

Windy Peak spur

Glorious aspen
Even orange in the aspen!
The spectacular fall in the Highwood Mountains kept dragging me back and in the past week I did four trips there, walking every trail in the North Highwoods drainages.
There are four parallel trails connected at top and bottom, creating loops.
I started by hiking the Center Trail that separates Highwood Creek from North Fork Highwood, completing a loop by coming back down North Fork Highwood.  The next hike was up North Fork Highwood and coming back by way of the ridge that separates the North Fork from Briggs Creek.  The third hike was up Briggs Creek and then back on North Fork/Briggs divider trail.  Finally, I went up Briggs and back down the Windy Point Trail to Thain Creek Campground.
Each of these loops range from 7.5 to 8.5 miles in length with 1,500 to 1,800 feet elevation gain.
On Sunday, I took a fifth hike that tied all of these loop trails together ---- starting at Thain Creek Campground, traversing by trail over Briggs Creek and North Highwood to Center Ridge and then Center Ridge back to the Windy Point Trail ---- some 15.2 miles with an elevation gain of 5,900 feet. It took me 6 and a half hours.
For a more detailed look at route, an elevation chart and more photos, CLICK HERE
I know, I know, it seems a bit excessive, but I have to assure the colors and the scenery merited the return trips.
This range is within 30 miles of Great Falls, and a tremendous resource.


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