Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Climbing Crown Butte between Cascade and Simms

A meterological phenomenon known as the "Chinook Arch," looms over Mimi Wolf like a flying saucer
Looking down one of the gullies

H. Wayne Phillips with Crown Butte in background
We were very conflicted for Wednesday's Wayne Walks.
About 7 inches of new snow had fallen in the Little Belts and it was tempting to go there and do some turns.
However, after Sunday's success with wildflowers on Mount Helena, despite very strong and sustained winds, we thought Crown Butte might be a better bet, put up our skis and tied on our hiking boots.
This is an easy climb on a laccolith located between the towns of Simms and Cascade on Nature Conservancy land.
Generally, it is a little more than a mile and 1,200 feet to the top of this "butte."  What you add is up to you.
We always try to sweep the perimeter of this area, looking down its precipitous cliffs and vying for great views of the southern Rocky Mountain Front, as far south as Red Mountain and north to Ear Mountain.  There are great views in all directions, including these unique buttes like Haystack, Birdtail, Shaw and Square buttes.
Gordon Whirry photos the scenery
The top consists of virgin prairie grass that sways in the ever-present breezes.
The road can be rough and it is not well marked coming from either directions, Simms or Cascade, but the Simms route is a little closer and easier.
There's a marked parking area on the butte's southeast flank and there is an unmarked hiker's trail that leads to the cliffs and the cleft that always entry to the top.
The winds beat us down, but the grasses that waved in the wind, the 360 views, and easy walking more than compensated.
We didn't find the alpine wildflower show we saw on Sunday, with only prairie smoke, phlox and fritillary in bloom on Crown.
For additional photos, a map and elevation chart:  CLICK HERE
The snow-capped Front in the distance

Another look at the Chinook Arch

The intriguing Birdtail Butte

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