TR: 2 rides near Hamilton, Montana

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by 406, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Was home in Missoula the second week in July, mostly for family
    activities, but managed to get away for a couple big rides.

    July 10th was Ward Mountain in the Bitterroot Mountain range. A
    majority of the range is in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, 3rd
    largest in the lower 48 at 1.3 million acres. Ward Mountain at 9119
    ft, is the highest one can legally go with a mountain bike.

    Trail starts out around 4200 ft and is easy riding the first 2.5 miles
    up to 5200 ft through a burn area with lots of flowers:

    And views:

    More flowers:

    Just as I was starting to think it was going to be a cake walk, the
    hike a bike started. Figures, because still need to go up 4000 ft and
    there was only 3.5 miles of trail to the summit. The trail is narrow
    most of the way, due to getting little use, so was a challenging hike
    a bike. But the down looked like it would be fun:

    Trail faces east, so cooks in the morning sun through the burned
    area. Thankfully, into the trees for some shade and water from a
    stream to cool off:

    As the trees get smaller start seeing patches of snow:

    Final push to the summit selfie:

    Bike at the top shot looking west:

    looking north:

    180 degree pano looking west, click link for full size:

    Tiny flowers near the summit:

    The snow patches were fun to ride on the way down:

    Down was a blast, only took 1 hour and I stopped for lots of photos
    and to spin the stans into a front tire leak. Nice views of the
    Bitterroot Valley:

    Nobody around at the trailhead, so I skinny dipped in the creek:

    Only 13 miles, but 5k ft of up.
  2. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    I had been on the fence about what to ride the next day. But in early
    July a judge temporarily overturned the mountain bike ban in the
    Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study areas. These areas were
    designated by Congress in the 70's, and open to bikes and motos up
    until the 2016 Forest Travel plan revision. More info:

    Riding one of these areas became a priority, but I figured they
    hadn't got much use in the last couple years not being popular with
    hikers so would be covered in deadfall. Thankfully the Bitterroot Backcountry
    Cyclists cleared a few trails in the Sapphire Mountains a couple
    days before my ride, these guys are bad ass:

    My toddler is a good alarm clock, waking up at 5 am typically, but
    slept in an hour so I started an hour behind schedule. Thankfully
    road was a relatively fast up, start is deep in the valley and aways
    from the crest, but get some views on the way up:

    Road turns into really nice trail:

    The trail junction is easy to miss, look for cut logs:

    Weasel Creek trail starts in the burned area and then into trees for
    some fast fun ridge line riding:

    Starts getting steep with a little chunk:

    Then really steep and fun down to the creek. A mile of slow going
    jungle, see the trail?:

    I was 1.5 hour behind schedule, but figured it was my only chance to
    ride Railroad, so hammered back up the road. Several short hike a
    bikes with riding to get up to 313 trail:

    Was only on 313 for a short way, it looked like this:

    Railroad starts in the burned area:

    ~3 painful hike a bikes, but fun downs and views. Far off peaks got
    washed out in this photo:

    Into the green trees the trails gets really steep and is a blast:

    Even more steep, but all rideable:

    It also ends in a jungle and running late, I hiked up to an old
    logging road and bailed on the last mile. Another post ride swim in
    the creek:

    Total of about 25 miles and 5.5 k ft of up.

    Then back to Missoula to drop off rental bike and attend a family
    function at Missoula Brewing Co:
  3. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    Ho, man, TFPU these. Nice job on the rides. Just epic scenery... :thumbsup:

    A person could spend some time in MT :inlove: Like I need to tell you! :geek:
  4. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    That was awesome!
    Excellent links, great write and pics.
    I like the selfie, just personalized it for me.
    Thank you for the write up Brian!
    You had your bike so I’m assuming you drove out there?
  5. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    pearl harbor
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    I went there years ago and camped at Lake Como. They taught me about Lewie and Clark. They also told me about the Nez Pierce and their trek via the valley into Big Hole. Back then it was not wilderness it was just forest and the rare Bull trout
  6. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
  7. scan

    scan Well-Known Member

    fran allas
    Current Bike:
    Scott Spark
    Water must have been COLD??? Were you following trail/GPS maps?
  8. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Looks awesome. Ride it while we can!
    mountaingirl sara, Mikie and mike like this.
  9. 406

    406 Member

    San Diego
    Current Bike:
    Yeah, it was a rental bike. Delta charges $150 each way to check a bike. I wasn't organized enough to bikeflight ship. Would have been nice having my Ripmo for the up, the Kona seemed fine down.

    Water wasn't too cold, but I like a cold swim after rides and have swam in much colder.

    @mike yes, tons of rides in Montana and not many people so with 60 some mountain ranges, easy to find backcountry rides. I think there is a weeks worth of "destination" rides in the Hamilton area with the 2 wilderness study areas open. Bozeman, Helena, Northern Flathead, Big Sky areas all each have at least a weeks worth of riding. Plus there are many very remote areas that have 100's of miles of trails. Clearly not enough vacation time.
  10. CBone

    CBone Well-Known Member

    Antelope Valley
    Current Bike:
    Intense Primer
    Montana is a special place for sure.
    It would be a fun place to ride for sure. Of course a Grizzly could rip your gizzard out at any moment too.:sick::eek:;)
  11. Ricekrispyota

    Ricekrispyota Member

    Dana Weinberg
    Mom lives in Stevensville and step sis lives in Corvallis. Beautiful area. I get up there once a year but haven’t been able to ride yet. I’m exited about all the positive trailb action up there.

    Next time you are in that area, hit up bitterroot brewing co. in Corvallis. Really good IPA’s.
    Old&InTheWay likes this.