Chouteau County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: July 27, 2006
Authors: Jerry and Betty Brekhus

This is a hike up a road closed to motor traffic to the top of Highwood Baldy, elevation 7,670 feet (2,338 meters).

Driving instructions: Turn off the highway at Armington Junction (US87 and US89). There is a rest area at the junction. Head north one mile on the road toward Armington. Here see a road to the right (east) signed "Willow Ck Rd". Set the trip odometer to zero and take Willow Creek Road (gravel). At 9 miles turn left (north) at an intersection indicated by a --| sign. Your odometer may read slightly higher.

Follow the signs for national forest access and Highwood Baldy. Turn left (north) at 12.5 miles and go through a gate. At 12.7 miles a junction has confusing signs. This junction is located at NAD27 UTM zone 12 (525000 E, 5250019 N). A brown sign with an arrow points right and a "Private Property" sign is posted on the same tree. The private property access is the left fork. The arrow on the brown sign points the way to Highwood Baldy. Follow the arrow. From this point high clearance is highly recommended. At 14.4 miles we parked at the trailhead for Pinewood Peak Pass.

The handy free trail map we picked up at the ranger station in Stanford, MT says that at Pinewood Peak Pass, "Perchance you may perceive a porcupine perched in a ponderosa pine." I digress, if you are going for the county highpoint, stay on the jeep road.

A 4x4 with high clearance may make it about another mile to a locked gate. The last good place to turn around and park is at the switchback in Section 18 near spot elevation 5785. Speaking of gates, we needed our gate opener to open and close one very tight gate about a half-mile before we parked.

The hiking portion of the trip is simply a matter of walking up the jeep trail to the summit occupied by an antenna farm. After visiting the highest rocks we moved away from the communication equipment and had lunch by the squeaky red weather vane.

Views of Square Butte to the east were nice. Smoke precluded any 100-mile views on this trip.

Climb statistics: total 4 hours, elevation gain 2,500 feet, 6.8 miles.