Rosebud County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: June 25, 2006
Author: anonymous

Rosebud and Treaure Counties via a Loop Route

This effort was part of a larger journey collecting Idaho, Montana, and Washington county highpoints in late June and early July 2006.

The Rosebud/Treasure pair requires a good deal of stealth. The land is posted along the main approach road, and there is no easy way to get "close" to either highpoint without traversing private land.

On coming from Colstrip the first item noted is that the road leading west to Castle Rock has been re-routed by Western Energy coal mining. The new road turns left (southwest); heads west; and then returns northwest to meet the old and direct route west of the mining operations at this junction.

The previous evening I scouted the situation; and decided upon a loop route that would take me in clockwise fashion, first to the Rosebud County highpoint; a traverse northwest along the spine of the Little Wolf Mountains to the Treasure County highpoint; followed by a return to my rental, entirely cross-country, by mid-day.

I used my dark green, overnight backpack instead of my red daypack to lower the chances of being sighted. In addition I arose early enough (at 3:23 a.m.) to be off the ranch road grid by sunrise at 5:08 a.m. The early start would also mean that I'd finish most of the elevation gain before it got really hot in the late morning.

I bushcamped with the car at an abandoned farmhouse on the south side of the main road. With the first hints of dawn already in the sky at 4 a.m., I drove to this gravel dump; and hid my rental behind a large road grader - so making my car nearly invisible from the main road. The gravel dump is located on the road's north side as it bends from northwest to west.

At 4:14 a.m. I walked, headlamp now superfluous, along the main road for six minutes to the junction with a dirt ranch road located here. The road taken is the one leading southwest. I did not see a second road leading south. I walked the ranch road southwest as it passed under east-west power lines, and then traveled west in the general direction of my first goal.

I left the ranch road approximately here in the vicinity of abandoned shacks; and then proceeded south up the obvious ridge to the Rosebud County highpoint.

The final 200 vertical feet are steep and full of obstacles such as deadfall and heavy brush. Once on-top the summit is broad and flat.

For the Treasure County highpoint I walked the highest ridgeline of the Little Wolf Mountains as it trends generally northwest. Heat was becoming an issue now - even though it was only 7 a.m. as I ascended the first of many hilltops as required to remain on the main ridge. DO NOT drop down from the ridge - you will only have to regain the lost elevation.

At Red Butte the route turns north. The south ridge of Red Butte has some very loose and steep red sandstone. Do not attempt to climb the friable rock - instead, swallow your pride and descend to the right (east) some twenty feet prior to regaining the elevation after passing this rotten section.

The route swings from north to northeast for the final mile of cross-country travel to the Treasure County highpoint. A disappointing false summit is soon eclipsed by the true highpoint - one replete with a summit register.

After a well-deserved break and sandwich I descended east along the obvious ridge; and finally decided to leave the ridge and make a beeline for my vehicle when 1.92 miles due west of this junction. In so doing I would remain off the main road for as long as feasible, going cross-country and thus far from the likely location of any observer. Said junction is not signed. However the fence located one-half mile west along the ranch road, at its western terminus, is signed.

I returned to the vehicle a quarter hour before 1 p.m. - the entire hike consuming 8 1/2 hours and an estimated fifteen miles. The total elevation gain is perhaps 2,500 to 3,000 feet.