Washboard Reef

Choteau, Montana

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This trail provides an alternate and lesser-known route to the north end of the Sun River Basin. Because it crosses steep and unstable slopes, it is not recommended for horse parties. The ascent is steady, and the trail zigzags upward at frequent intervals to avoid washouts along the creek. As the path gains elevation, subalpine fir comes to dominate the forest, and avalanche slopes cut broad openings through the timber. This path climbs aggressively through the thinning timber. The trees ultimately part to reveal sheer cliffs: From this point, the path seems bound for a low saddle to the south. Instead, it winds steeply up a wooded spur, heading over one of the highest points on Washboard Reef. The spur leads to a level pad on the summit, and here the trail enters the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Ever-expanding views feature the twin summits of Mount Baldy to the south as well as the rounded west slope of Mount Wright to the north. The path then makes a brutal final climb to the summit, where travelers will be rewarded with sweeping views in all directions. Highlights include the sheer cliffs of Bowl Mountain to the north, as well as a broad sweep of the North Wall rising beyond the North Fork of the Sun.
Hiking Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness

by Erik Molvar (Falcon Guides)

This trail provides an alternate and lesser-known route to the north end of the Sun River Basin. Because it crosses steep and unstable slopes, it is not recommended for horse parties. The ascent is steady, and the trail zigzags upward at frequent intervals to avoid washouts along the creek. As the path gains elevation, subalpine fir comes to dominate the forest, and avalanche slopes cut broad openings through the timber. This path climbs aggressively through the thinning timber.

The trees ultimately part to reveal sheer cliffs: From this point, the path seems bound for a low saddle to the south. Instead, it winds steeply up a wooded spur, heading over one of the highest points on Washboard Reef. The spur leads to a level pad on the summit, and here the trail enters the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Ever-expanding views feature the twin summits of Mount Baldy to the south as well as the rounded west slope of Mount Wright to the north. The path then makes a brutal final climb to the summit, where travelers will be rewarded with sweeping views in all directions. Highlights include the sheer cliffs of Bowl Mountain to the north, as well as a broad sweep of the North Wall rising beyond the North Fork of the Sun.

©  Erik Molvar/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Choteau
Distance: 21
Elevation Gain: 2,304 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: Day hike or backpack
Season: Best July through September
Trailhead Elevation: 5,700 feet
Top Elevation: 7,934 feet
Local Contacts: Rocky Mountain Ranger District, Lewis and Clark National Forest, Bob Marshall Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Mount Wright, Porphyry Reef
Driving Directions: Directions to Washboard Reef

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Apr 2018