Friday, September 4, 2015

Trail Review: Sacagawea Peak, Bozeman, MT

At the other end from the "M" outside of Bozeman, MT, in the Bridger Mountain Range, is Sacagawea Peak.  I was told by some that this was a great hike, not too hard and that it had great views. There might even be the possibility of seeing mountain goats according to some maps and other reviews.  It is the highest peak in the range at just under 9700 ft.  Though you can gain access to the peak from other trails leading up to it, it seems that most people use the access point from the Fairy Lake Campground off of route 86.  FYI: While we drove up to Fairy Lake Campground in a mini-van, (and others drove up in a variety of vehicles), go carefully and slowly.  If the weather has been at all very wet or muddy, I'd think about possibly using a vehicle with 4WD.  The road into the campground is rough and rocky.

While the whole family drove up to the Fairy Lake Campground, I only took my two oldest kids up Sacagawea.  Though some might consider this an easy hike, we are not from Montana, but Iowa, so I'm not sure my younger kids could have done it.  They and my wife went around the trail at the lake and then just enjoyed some down time as they waited for us to return.  According to one map we had, Sacagawea Peak is a 4.4 mile round trip from the trailhead at the campground that should take 3.5 hours.

The trail starts off in the forest, but fairly quickly starts to come out of treeline.

Heading towards treeline, the trail goes upward pretty much from the beginning.
The first patch of snow appears!

As the trail levels off for a short stretch, we regather.

As the trail approaches the saddle, it gets rockier, steeper, and switchbacks a bit.
Looking back as we climb towards the saddle.
This section reminded me of part of a trail I had hiked in NH called Tuckerman's Ravine.
This guy looked hairy and spikey.  Probably just a weed, but I'm no botanist!
On the saddle it was cool enough to need a sweatshirt for a couple of us.
Clouds were starting to come over the peak as we traversed higher.
Looking back down towards the saddle between Sacagawea and Hardscrabble Peaks.

Working on a cairn as he waits for me and his brother.

These next set of pics are as I just took one right after the other and made a circle around myself.

That trail is going up at a steep angle!

Getting closer to the top as I look south to the rest of the range.
I believe this next summit to the south is Naya Nuk Peak
The top, glad no one walked off the edge while the clouds rolled over the summit!

Taken from the summit and looking down, west/southwest.

The last scramble to the top is a really steep bit!
On the summit, with a shear cliff behind them!
Looking down at the saddle from the summit!
Heading back down.

Hardscrabble Peak to the north.

Looking down at the trail from the top of the saddle.
A selfie at the saddle junction.
Trying out the snow on the way back down.

When we got down, my GPS watch had us at 4.9 miles, (about a half mile longer than the map had said) and we did it about 15 minutes faster than than it said it should take.  Considering that I had just raced the Bangtail Divide 38K four days before this, climbing a peak that gains around 2,000 feet in less than 2.5 miles and then back down again in under 3 hrs 15 mins seemed pretty good!

If you go: make sure you bring enough water as we ran out.  I'd recommend 24-32oz for each person. Also, check the weather beforehand, and even if it's warm, I'd bring a light long sleeve garment at the least, even in July, which is when we went.  Finally, poles aren't necessary, but are helpful at times, especially if you've recently been doing a lot of hiking/running/racing!  Enjoy!  What a beauty!

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