Date: April 21, 2018
Trip Leader: Alden Wright
Participants: Julie Huck, Kathy York, David Chapman, Edna Blanchfield, Marrea Matthews, Carolyn Pardini, Todd Kaye
The trailhead is marked with a Forest Service sign and is about 3 miles from the bridge up the Petty Creek Road. Unlike the out-of-date maps, the trail does not follow the old road, but leaves directly from the main road. We left the car about 9:25. The trail is very switchbacked and climbs with a consistent moderate grade. We were seeing buttercups, fritillaries, shooting stars, woodland stars, small penstemons, and other spring flowers. After climbing nearly 1000 feet, the trail traverses a very large steep open meadow which is home (at least at this time of year) to a herd of bighorn rams. The weather going up was cold and very windy. At about 5200’ where the trail goes into the trees Todd and Marrea turned around, and the rest of us we put on our snowshoes which were quite necessary. After another mile, we attained the top of the ridge where we joined the trail coming up from the Albert Creek trailhead. (This is an alternative way to hile to Petty Mountain which has less elevation gain but a lot of driving on forest roads which were likely blocked by snow.) From there, it was a moderate climb up the ridge to the peak. At the top was a “hitching post” which was the only remnants of the former lookout that we could see—but the snow was several feet deep. There were great views of the Bitterroots, the Rattlesnakes, the Missions, and even a bit of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. The sun started to come out, and the weather was nice on the way down. We saw the bighorn rams again, this time somewhat closer. We got back to the car about 5:30. The GPS showed we had hiked 12 miles with 4300’ of elevation gain. It was a good 76th birthday hike for me, and hopefully will be followed by a successful hike up Trapper Peak this coming weekend.