Thursday, May 26, 2016

Up the grassy slopes about 1,300 feet to the ridge line

At the ridge, outcroppings were encountered 
At the high point, Jasmine Krotkov strikes a pose

On the way down, retired forester Wayne Phillips improves an erosion barrier on this steep trail
A partially off-trail loop that ends with the Pioneer Ridge Trail No. 734 immediately east of the Belt Creek Ranger Station.
At the Pioneer Ridge trailhead follow the fence line north, crossing the creek and proceed up the first steep ridge to the north.
Some 1,900 feet are gained on this 4.5 mile walk that essentially follows the ridge to the south, walking under volcanic outcrops (dikes) that provide some relief from the grassy slopes.
At the ridge high point there are terrific views of some of Little Belts' highest peaks, Big Baldy, Long and Neihart Baldy, and distant Porphyry with its lookout tower.  To the northwest, Tiger and Crown buttes, and directly west, Belt Park.
Along the route two elk were spotted and fresh bear scat.  We also rustled up several grouse.
The flowers were stellar, especially the bright yellow Oregon Grape and Fairy Slipper (Calypso) orchids.
These Fairy Slipper orchids filled a hillside in one spot
This trail is a regular for those of us in Great Falls because of its relatively short distance from town:  less than an hour, the scenery and the great views.

For a more detailed map and photos:  CLICK HERE

Belt Creek, where we started, was running high

We stopped here to honor this tree, where Phillips led choruses of Walking Jim Stoltz's "If I Were a Tree," song

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