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  1. #1
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    TR: Montana MtB Sept 2018

    Advocacy very long story very short: Congress requires the USFS to catalog areas that could be potentially designated as Wilderness by Congress. Classifications of interest are: Recommended Wilderness areas, Wilderness Study areas, and inventoried roadless areas. Several of the forests in Region 1 of the USFS have started managing these areas as defacto Wilderness ( no bikes!) in the most recent round of travel management plans. Despite decades of allow mountain bikes, often moto, and snowmobile. This is a huge issue and is resulting in the loss of hundreds of miles of mountain bike trail. Most of these trails are of no interest to hikers, so nature reclaims them soon after they are closed.

    So a lot of the motivation of this trip and past Montana mountain bike trips, was to ride areas that will likely get closed soon.

    Flight was into SLC due to cost, times, and option to change the plan last minute if Montana was on fire or snow covered. It was a little warm in the Wasatch, but nice fall colors.

    Day 1:
    Saturday Sept 9th, 6 am flight departing and arriving SLC at 9, get rental car, bear spray and fuel at REI. Plan was to ride the Wasatch Crest IMBA epic loop. Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed, so drove around to Park City. Assembled bikes in parking lot and got ready to ride. I guess this was evdog's first road trip :-), because he showed up with a non functioning front brake. I started riding up Armstrong & Pinecone while he went to the bike shop and drove to Guardsman Pass, with plan to rendezvous at start of Wasatch Crest. Aspens starting to go off:


    Scenic as advertised:


    lake:


    gnar that evdog cleaned while e-bikers walked the c line:


    After the crest, bunch of well built trail in the trees with views when crossing the ski runs.


    I took Spiro trail back to town and arrived just as it was getting dark. Evan had to ride back up to the van, so I recovered in the Top Stop for a couple hours waiting.

    34 miles and 5k ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1828734098

  2. #2
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    Day 2:
    Ending so late the night prior, we still had some driving to do to get to start of ride. Also needed to stop and get groceries. I forgot to double check google map directions with the USFS map, so we bumbled along a bunch of jeep trails to get to the trailhead rather than the nice gravel road. Total morning delays end up being a couple hours, so started ride around 1 pm.

    Plan was CDT from Aldous Lake to Taylor Mtn out and back in the Centennial Mountains. Trail starts out very nice going up in the trees:


    Crossing into Montana, we are welcomed with big views:


    And experimental sheep:


    Nice rustic trail and views, crossing several meadows and a few streams:


    Would have been a couple more hours to bag the peak, so we turned around at a high point to avoid finishing in the dark in prime griz habitat. View of Taylor Mtn:


    Nice and mostly down ride back to the van:


    18 miles and 3k ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1831424616

  3. #3
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    Day 3:
    More CDT on the menu, this time from Targhee Pass and down Targhee Cr, in the Lionhead Mtns.

    A few miles on the highway to get to the pass and the CDT:


    Trail is lots of up along the ridge, with awesome views:


    The riding in these mountains is amazing:




    Pee on one side and it goes to the Atlantic, the other side and it goes to the Pacific:


    Trail does a good job staying on the divide:


    Lunch spot:


    Then down to the trail junction, back up past a lake were we watched a black bear swim for 15 minutes(Evdog has better photos):


    Down Targhee creek is lots of fun, fast sections, technical switchbacks, and nice views:


    New to me beer, for some reason the cans caught my eye:


    21 miles and 4k ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1833210380

  4. #4
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    Day 4:
    Plan was CDT Mile cr to Sheep Cr, which is in the top 5 best rides I have ever done. I was having some major knee pain and took the day off having already done this loop in the past. Really bummed to miss a day, but wanted to get better for the rest of the week which was mostly new to me rides. Went to the earthquake lake sights(very interesting), checked out some trailheads for no bike signs(nope), and some hot springs(private). Evdog can post photos from the ride, should be about 25 miles and 5k ft of up.

  5. #5
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    Day 5:
    Wolverine Basin Loop, Gravelly Mtns, Montana. Without a shuttle we parked at 7000 feet and biked up the road to the start of trail, then odd man out shuttles the final 3 miles that drop 1000 vert ft to the Madison River.

    You can't see the peaks from the highway, but nice views riding up the dirt road:


    Bear went over the mountain:


    Trail is very nice:


    Crossing several small meadows:


    Until it crosses a huge meadow:


    Down from the highpoint, trail is faint for a few miles:


    Lower down, views of the Madison mountains and pass through some aspen groves:


    Last few miles was smooth and fast, I was guessing chunky, so was a little disappointed, but still fun:


    Drink to MT:


    21 miles and 3k ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1837666440

  6. #6
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    Day 6:
    Loop in the Bridger Mountains. We did a long point to point on the Bridger Foothill trail back in 2012. Some newer trail allowed for us to do a loop this time.

    Camped at the campground at the trailhead and awoke to some new snow and wet camp:


    Got to sleep in until the rain stopped, so that was nice. Sun started to come out as we hike a bike and biked up to the pass:




    Evdog making a challenging uphill switchback:


    Heavenly:


    Final push to the pass:


    We had planned to bag the peak like the 2012 trip, but weather was not very good so started on the Bridger foothill trail:


    The Bridger foothill trail is in my top 10 favorite trails, the description from trailforks: "This is an elegant piece of single track that is carved improbably into alpine faces, dipping in and out of gullies and ravines with stunning views in an unbelievable setting. Be advised this trail is not for everybody. The consistent side hill nature (often with exposure), in addition to the remoteness and technicality of this trail, requires solid bike handling skills, mental focus and a sense of adventure. The uphills are short but require some amount of hike-a-bike and the downhills can include anything from buff alpine single track to steep chunky switchbacks. Expect it all and enjoy the adventure."








    Often only about the width of both feet:


    With good amount of exposure:


    Ross Pass trail is fun and has nice flow:


    15 miles and 3600 ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1840091838

    Drove out to the Big Snowy Mountains, but stopped in Two Dot, Montana for burgers:

  7. #7
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    Day 7:
    Awoke at the Ice Cave loop ride trailhead and it was very wet. So packed up and drove to Helena. Plan was a loop that include going to the top of Casey Peak, in the Elkhorn Mountains just outside town.
    Started with easy couple miles in the trees:


    Steeper as we go up:


    Good amount of hike the bike as we turn off for the peak:


    Ride a few spots:


    Lots of "this will be fun on the down":


    Summit, odometer on the #ripmo passed 500 miles on this ride:


    Summit block was all rock riding, fun challenge:


    Still required lots of attention after getting back in the trees:


    About 4 miles of steep chunky down:


    Then 3 miles of fast smooth flowing trail back to van, beer, and swimming:


    12 miles and 3600 ft of up: https://www.strava.com/activities/1841871979/overview

    WOP chop in Butte, America for dinner. Drove south to Bannock Pass for the night.

  8. #8
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    Day 8:
    I wanted to check out one more section of CDT in the Beaverhead Mountains, but had a flight from SLC at 8 pm. So we woke up early:


    Started north from Bannock pass toward Goat mtn. Trail is very nice:


    Mostly up with a few down miles:


    Some big views:




    Turn around time:


    I went ahead and hammered back to the van so that I could get the bike packed up while Evan made his way back:


    A hunter from Idaho chatted with us and gave us a few Bud's...we made sure to open them on the Idaho side:


    Found a river for a swim and then nice drive back to Salt Lake City while I watched Montana's loss to Western IL :facepalm:. Returned the bear spray to REI and stopped in the Cotton Bottom for some garlic cheese burgers. My final navigation mistake of the trip had me checking into flight 1 hour prior to departure...right on time! Quality time with the kids and wife on Sunday. Took the 3 year old to the pool for a few hours.

    Trail Encounters: 0 mountain bikers on trail while in MT/ID. Evan chatted with 1 backpacker in the Lionhead, a few day hikers & 1 quad in the Bridgers, probably a dozen total bow hunters(all seemed to be off trail). Elk in the Centennials, black bear in the Lionhead, Big horn sheep, Mountain goats in the Bridgers, fox in the Beaverhead.

  9. #9
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    In closing, a request....
    The Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) is undergoing a Forest Planning Process and has released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) giving us what may be our last opportunity to provide public comment. Unique among all of Region One Forest plan choices over the past 15 years is finally an alternative that would allow existing uses to continue within Recommended Wilderness!! This alternative choice is a gift and we must comment to support it, bicyclists must speak up! Don’t delay, comment deadline is Oct. 9, 2018! Here is a link to the DEIS: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/hlcnf...stelprd3798801

    If you don't have much time, just check for my typo's, cut and paste the sample letter below into the form at:
    https://cara.ecosystem-management.or...?Project=44589

    Better if you can add some personal sentence and mix things up a little.

    The Wilderness folk are pushing for alternative D which will close another 442 miles of trail. B would be bad too. A & E are not really options that will happen:


    SAMPLE LETTER:
    I frequently travel to destinations in the western United Sates known for excellent and diverse mountain bike trail riding. While visiting these regions, I supporting local business such as lodging, restaurant, breweries, and retail. I am very interested in visiting Montana for a mountain bike vacation. I support Alternative C in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF) Forest Planning Process, with the exception that Alternative C be amended to drop The Elkhorn Core proposal from the DEIS. It is important that backcountry riding opportunities remain open to mountain bikes for the tourism economy of the Helena region. Additionally, all sections of Continental Divide Trail outside of Wilderness Areas designated by Congress, should remain open to mountain bikes allowing for multi-day bike packing and remote riding experiences.




    Thanks! The End.

  10. #10
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    Nice, man. Thanks
    PE, Mechanical Engineering

  11. #11
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    I don't think you can do a better MT trip than that. From epic rides to the wop chop, you pretty much nailed it. 10/10.(I would def need some hot springs action to pair with all that saddle time though).

  12. #12
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    We struck out on hot springs unfortunately....

  13. #13
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    Well done.

    Thank you.

  14. #14
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    Nicely done. Thanks

  15. #15
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    I need to get some up to date info on eastern hot springs, found a couple no trespassing signs.

  16. #16
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    Finally getting around to my pics and TR.....

    I had been wanting to sneak in a quick Montana trip this summer to hit up a few favorite rides from past years – Bridger in Montana, Lionhead, etc. When a judge unexpectedly opened some Wilderness Study Area trails to MTB this summer thoughts turned to a longer trip to take advantage. Unfortunately the wildernuts filed a complaint to that judge who then ruled the trails weren’t open to bikes afterall. Change of plans was to ride some other trails whose bike access is also threatened. Sadly there seems to be no shortage of those in MT.

    After considering options we flew into SLC and opted to ride Wasatch Crest since it would be “shorter” (haha) and give us more time to get some errands done. Last time I did the ride I started from Mill Creek Canyon. That trail is open to bikes alternate days (not today) and Big Cottonwood Canyon was closed for a race, so we headed around to Park City to start. That was fine with me and I was looking forward to some new trail on that side.

    Day 1 – Wasatch Crest

    Bike build session in the resort parking lot. Ignore the fact I’ve rotated my fork the wrong way, that’s the new style



    We got about ˝ mile and a couple short descents when I realized something was wrong with my front brake. It would have pressure but with a second or so sustained pull pressure would completely dissipate to nothing. Release, pressure would return but disappear again. I’d just bled brakes so there was something wrong. Decided to re-bleed at the van and/or go to a shop and meet up with 406 higher on the mountain.



    Found the local shop mechanic asleep, had to wake him up. Turned out fluid was leaking in between the inner brake sleeve and outer housing. All I can figure is the handlebar got yanked on during airline transit and it pulled the hose out of the lever slightly. So, in the interest of time just bought a new front brake and installed it.



    Now to meet up with 406. Drove up Guardsman pass. Not sure what was going but on there were a million cars parked both sides of the road but didn’t see any hikers on the trail. Ran into fall colors right away on Scotts connector.



    Fortunately there was coverage and was able to connect with 406 right at the start of the crest singletrack. Perfect.



    The scenery delivers. I rode the loop the opposite direction last time so was looking forward to riding it the “right” way



    Aspen tunnel



    Nice view of Desolation Lake



    406 riding the gnar line





    Nothing ruins a good photo more than an E-biker hiking his bike down the smooth go round



    Dear E-biker,



    Continuing on…



    We still had a long ways to go so didn’t stop much to enjoy the views. Continued on around Mid mountain



    A bit of footage of different parts of the ride. Won't embed?

    https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493042

    It was already getting close to sunset when we got to the turnoff. 406 just had to head downhill but I had about 6 mi of climbing left to get back to the van. The downside of our plan. In retrospect should have rode down and then caught an Uber back to the pass but didn’t consider that. Took a couple hours to make the climb which made for a late night with still some driving to do.



    Fun ride, need to spend some more time in Park City / SLC one of these times.

  17. #17
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    Day 2 – CDT Centennial Mountains

    With some delays to do shopping and traverse some secondary and dirt roads we didn’t get riding until well after noon. I didn’t have a good picture of what this ride would be like as the reports I’d read from this mountain range made it hard to pin down the actual route. 406 had done the research on this one. Now that we’ve been here we’ll know more for next time.



    The real reason 406 got an invite for the trip



    Nice trailhead kiosk



    CDT



    There was some nice singletrack through the trees after the first lung-buster climb



    Which brought us to a nice meadow that offered a peek at some peaks in the distance



    Stopping to take in the view. Our goal for the day was the distant peak on the right. Yeah, it looks pretty far off



    After some nice meadow riding we came to this crossing. Most of the crossings we’d come to had bridges



    The trail couldn’t decide if it wanted to be in Idaho or Montana



    Awesome views opened up at the top of this climb



    And the trail got faint through some of the meadows. At more than a few points we’d be on what seemed like the trail then see another line 10-20 feet up that was more worn in



    Pano view



    Good viewpoint



    That distant peak isn’t so distant now…



    Final climb



    406 reaching the last cairn



    Our original goal was the peak in the center of the photo. But with the late start and 2,000ft more climbing this would have us ending the ride through prime grizz country in the dark. Finishing in the dark has never phased us but maybe in our old age we are getting wiser, so safety won out. The view north off the peak would have been awesome, but this view here was nothing to complain about.
    And you always need a reason to come back, right?



    Some footage of the descent back to trailhead:

    Part 1 - https://www.pinkbike.com/video/492983/
    Part 2 - https://www.pinkbike.com/video/492987/

    A few people had said this was a good ride and it turned out to be true. Trail was in great shape for the most part which is as much as you can ask for in the backcountry.

  18. #18
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    Day 3 – Lionhead Range, CDT to Targhee Creek Trail



    The Lionhead is another area in the sights of the wildernuts and may be the next Wilderness battleground as part of it is in a WSA.


    Wanting to do a couple rides in this range, we opted to do the easier CDT to Targhee Creek Trail loop first.

    Getting the scary part out of the way we started with a couple miles of pedaling up a busy highway with heavy truck traffic. Thanks, but I’d rather take my chances with the bears…



    Then we had a couple miles of easy forest road climbing which led to some nice singletrack



    It didn’t take long for views to open up



    We’d be doing a traverse around Bald Mtn so it was a constant backdrop



    Stopping for another break in the climbing



    Getting up there



    Views were incredible






    After a lunch break we had a 1000ft switchback descent down to the basin on the other side

    Some footage dropping down: https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493046/



    A bit of traversing and some more climbing came next



    Sure bears can use the trail but someone should have warned us they’d be in our swimming holes too



    I had stopped after a short steep section to catch my breath when 406 called me over



    A dip in the lake would have been nice but present company may not have been welcoming



    Eventually he smelled us and wandered off



    Dropping into Targhee Creek trail



    It had some fun chunk and challenging switchbacks



    Widow maker



    And a bit of hike a bike to keep us honest



    Some footage of the fun parts - https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493063/

    The last couple miles were a mellow cruise. After a post ride beer it was into West Yellowstone for dinner



    Definitely a fun ride. Next time I’d like to continue on up to the high point and check out Dry Fork trail. We saw its exit and the following day I’d see its upper start, and it looks like a legit trail.

  19. #19
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    WSA and RWA management policy in Region 1 makes my blood boil. I'll send my comments in, but I am sure that the USFS will prick option D simply to avoid a lawsuit by MWA. Bicycling groups just don't have the resources to fight and the USFS and MWA knows this. The one biking group that does have the resources is either secretly controlled by those same wilderness groups or otherwise doesn't give a shit about access to remote trails as long as they can construct their lame urban bike parks.

    Those assholes at MWA and other wilderness organizations hide under the guise that they are protecting the environment to extract funding from well meaning individuals and corporations when in reality, they are creating a contingent of would be environmentalists who detest conservation groups. Their misguided policies will result in less protected land in the long run.

  20. #20
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    dammit evdog your pics aren't loading and I really want to see them!

  21. #21
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    Hmm not sure what the problem would be Lee. Anyone else having problems? You can see some of them on IG, I put a post up each day when we had cell coverage @evdog_sd

    Otherwise I can send you links to some google albums but that is a dump of everything so lots of duplicates and crap too.

    edit - I posted this on MTBR as well, check if it shows up there?
    Last edited by evdog; 10-03-2018 at 02:35 PM.

  22. #22
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    Photos are showing up fine for me. Must be that Canadian internetz, Lee.

    Sorry I couldn't rally for the Lionhead- had just ridden Mile to Sheep and that was enough. Dry Fork of Targhee Fork is super-cool, still very wild. CDT to Targhee Creek is super-classic.

    What did you ride in the Centennials? I've been exploring in there a bit, but didn't recognize what you rode.

    Thanks for a great TR.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by homemadesalsa View Post
    Sorry I couldn't rally for the Lionhead- had just ridden Mile to Sheep and that was enough. Dry Fork of Targhee Fork is super-cool, still very wild. CDT to Targhee Creek is super-classic.

    What did you ride in the Centennials? I've been exploring in there a bit, but didn't recognize what you rode.

    Thanks for a great TR.
    Funny you mention Mile to Sheep, that was our next ride up!

    No worries on not being able to join us, as usual we were late in planning and then changed plans a bunch of times so would have been hard to connect. Maybe next year!

    Not sure what that Centennials segment is called, but it was north of Kilgore. Found it on TF - its just called CDT Centennials East, and we rode it from the west end of this segment: https://www.trailforks.com/trails/cd...ntennial-mtns/. The TF track is reversed from what we rode, which they show as mile 21-30. Definitely a nice ride and were bummed we didn't make it to the high point.

  24. #24
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    Day 4 – Lionhead Range, Mile Creek to Sheep Creek

    We rode Mile to Sheep back in 2012 and despite getting rained on for half the ride this was on my list of top rides. So it was a must-do on this trip.

    You can ride it as a partial point to point shuttle or pedal 7 miles of dirt/pavement to close the loop.
    After I reminded 406 that it was his turn to do the road pedal to retrieve the truck he opted to sit this one out claiming knee pain. So I borrowed the bear spray and took off solo.

    Montana has terrible views



    The climb up was steady but not terrible. I did take plenty of stops to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery. The first climb would take me from 7,000ft to 10,000ft.



    After a long traverse up a canyon above Mile Creek there is a series of 30 or so switchbacks. As I get into those the views open up



    Making friends on the climb



    First intersection and top of Mile Creek Trail



    The high point, 10,000ft at Targhee Divide. On our first ride this was where the rain started and we had to decide whether to bail or continue on. There would be no such decision today, though it was cold and windy up top



    After a short descent there is a series of tight switchbacks through a field of unique straited rocks



    You can see the trail exit far below



    Awesome view. I stopped for a while and took it all in



    No bears at the swimming hole so I continued on. The trail flows a lot better this direction with a solid 2,500ft of traversing and descending

    Some footage of the descent starting from the top: https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493099/



    Getting to the Coffin Lakes turnoff I met my first trail users for the day



    The climb up is fairly steep but has some nice parts as well



    It follows a stream for a while which added to the scenery but also concern over bears since there had been a few fresh “reminders” left on the trail



    Above the Coffin lakes turnoff the trail is much less used. Some sections traversing open slopes were quite overgrown. I actually came across a hiker here who was day hiking from camp at Coffin Lakes. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.



    In this meadow in particular the trail was hard to follow. Easy to see here but lower down it wasn’t visible at all



    Fresh pile



    Top of the climb was some nice forested singletrack. The ride ends down Sheep Creek Trail which is in a WSA and threatened for access. It’s a long descent with tough switchbacks up top and exits through a rocky canyon down below. It was a long day but a great ride, still in my top 5 or so rides. Get up there and do this ride if you get the chance!

    No pics once I started the descent but I ran the go-pro most of the way so here is some footage if you need something to do at work:

    Upper Sheep switchbacks don't look like much but they are tight turns on steep side slopes. Was stoked to clean them all then messed up a chute soon after https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493106/

    Lower Sheep part 1: https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493111/
    Lower Sheep part 2: https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493117/



    Post ride swim was in Earthquake Lake then back to West Yellowstone for BBQ dinner



    I think the stats were around 30mi and +/- 6,000ft

  25. #25
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    Day 5 – Wolverine Basin to Gazelle Creek Trail

    Wolverine Basin in the Gravelly Range is another ride where bike access is threatened due to WSA designation. Without the ability to shuttle we planned to loop the upper part and if the trail was good and we made good time, odd-man-out shuttle the lower few miles. Not much was known about the ride and it could have been a mess of downed trees, but fortunately it turned out to be a great ride.

    The ride wasn’t far from camp but we managed to see some wildlife on the drive over



    It was a fairly easy 7 mile road climb to the start with minimal road traffic



    Wolverine Basin. Not much there but some vacant hunting camps



    We started off climbing through the meadow



    The trail alternated between riding in trees and going through some small meadows



    As we continued on the meadows got larger and larger



    This was the biggest one and after passing through it we had some hike a bike up and over a ridge with a few false summits



    Looking back down



    This led to another huge meadow that descended down a valley for ages. We saw a lone hunter on this descent, the only trail user we’d see all day



    Climbing up to Freezeout Mtn might be a side detour option for another day



    Trail got pretty faint in a few places



    After traversing through forest for quite a while we ended up back in more meadows, with a nice view of the Madison Mtns this time



    406 did the first odd-man-out lap down the lower trail and said it was ok but not great. Since we wouldn’t have time for another ride today I decided to give it a go. I thought it was awesome. Pretty buff and smooth, fast and fun. Definitely a contrast to the rest of the ride which would have made for a happy ending in a continuous run.

    Footage:
    Part 1 - https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493264/
    Part 2 - https://www.pinkbike.com/video/493192/

    Aftermath:



    After taking a stick off the shin the brush did a good job of making it look uglier than it was



    I definitely liked this ride and would do it again. If you are heading up to Bozeman it’s a pretty easy one to do, right off the highway. To do the full ride you’d probably want to shuttle, though you could easily climb up the lower singletrack for some bonus miles.

    Stats were 21 miles and +/- 3,000ft for the loop and another 1,000ft descent in 4 miles for the odd man out shuttle

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