Fergus County Highpoint Trip Report

Greathouse Peak (8,681 feet) and Old Baldy (8,680+ feet)

Dates: July 6 and 7, 2008
Author: Adam Helman

This effort is part of a larger journey collecting Montana and Idaho county highpoints in July 2008.

Greathouse Peak

It is 25.2 Adam truck miles (about 25.6 statute miles) from Judith Gap (the village) to Swimming Woman Road - good gravel. Along the latter road, pass through a private inholding at 6 miles; with a barbed wire gate at 8.2 miles. Enter national forest land at 8.5 miles and park nearby.

There are three stream crossings on-foot, beginning with an east to west crossing and (of course) ending with one as well.

This is a good hike. The trail (actually a grassy two-track) is returning to Nature as it ascends through the 6,500 and 7,000 foot contours; and it is only with considerable visual care that I locate it for my travel convenience. Once the route steepens, at around 7,000 feet, one is basically above the forest and any sane choice will get you to the trail junction noted below. A fence delineates land to the west, so keeping you on the obvious ridge for this portion.

I meet the cross-trail (on the south slopes of Greathouse Peak) at a 7,800 foot junction and proceed, now less steeply, west to the obvious saddle. Then go east to the summit with 500 feet of elevation gain.

I meet a local man at the aforementioned saddle with interests in photography; and we share the views and some food at the summit.

I then drive south to Ryegate for a telephone call home - no cell signal. Ice cream is yummy at the local grocery store.

I return north, then east and north again for a carpark at the base of an abandoned jeep road leading up Old Baldy. Metal rods embedded vertically preclude driving the road. There is a logging road on the opposite (east) side of main road.

I camp in my vehicle for the night AT the abandoned road's base.

Old Baldy

The abandoned jeep road for Old Baldy has a barbed wire gate 1/2 hour hiking from the road's base. The highpoint (including the Golden Valley County liner) are located southwest of you upon "topping out" on the tundra plateau. You still have one-half mile of horizontal travel to attain these goals.

The round-trip consumes 6 hours 4 minutes with 2 hour 45 minutes time in-motion uphill; and 2 hours 15 minutes in-motion downhill.

The net elevation gain is 2,800 feet. I estimate 250 feet of elevation gain on the descent, such that total elevation gain is 3,300 feet.

It is 46 road miles from the start of Swimming Woman Road (used to access Greathouse Peak) to downtown Lewiston. Only the 11 miles nearest Lewiston are paved. Therefore one has 25 + (46 - 11) + (2 x 8.5) = 67 miles of gravel and dirt roads for the combination of Fergus and Golden Valley Counties.