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FR290 shoulder summit: Broomtail Ridge

The road running along the top of the Gravelly Range is too long for a comfortable day ride in its entirety. But several access point allow splitting the road into sections that can be ridden in a day without superhuman effort. This northern portion of the Gravelly Range Road does not quite reach the altitude of the road south of here. Therefore it's described here as a shoulder summit.

1.(00.0km~00.0mi, 1667m~5469ft) START-END SOUTH ALTERNATE: jct US87 - Johnny Ridge Road
2.(01.0km~00.6mi, 1673m~5489ft) START-END SOUTH: Mc Attee Bridge over Madison River
3.(25.9km~16.1mi, 2634m~8641ft) route turns left onto FR290 Gravelly Range Road
4.(27.1km~16.8mi, 2670m~8759ft) TOP: point of highest altitude
5.(29.4km~18.3mi, 2620m~8596ft) Warm Springs Road diverts on left
6.(36.7km~22.8mi, 2498m~8196ft) route turns right onto FR292 Call Road
7.(56.0km~34.8mi, 1625m~5331ft) turn left at T on dirt road
8.(60.3km~37.5mi, 1576m~5171ft) START-END NORTH: Madison River crossing on CR249


From South. During summer the turnoff to McAttee Bridge from US287 is almost as big and busy as a freeway interchange. Most of the traffic is fishing traffic. The road remains hard-medalled and extremely wide as it climbs into the benches of the Madison River. Soon the reason becomes obvious, this is the access road for a talc mine. The industrial strength road goes past the mine main entrance, and sweeps south over the benches in wide turns, creating the first majestic views of the almost treeless, but nontheless green valley below. While the wide road continues to a second mine entrance at its top, a clearly marked fork diverts to the left and starts to climb a bit more steeply. When this road enters the forest it has already gained a respectable amount of elevation, what seems like a third of the way up the peaks of the Gallatin Range across the valley. The road surface is good for climbing. At the junction with Johnny Gulch, Johnny Ridge Road switches back to the south and traverses up the Gravelly Range in one long straight away. A wide turn circles around a stately tree, that has been reduced to a paper cutout by the bark beetle epidemic. What follows is the first panoramic view of the Madison Range. On the ridge the trees give way to wide stretches of tundra, lined by carcasses of dead trees. Johnny Ridge Road merges onto FR290. To the left will lead to the highest point on the Gravelly Range Road (described as FR290 Monument Ridge summit(u). The option described here stays right and almost imperceptibly climaxes on the next stretch of tundra. The Beaverhead National Forest map labels the spot as Broomtail Ridge, but the name is not found on any of the numerous signs at intersections. The summit is higher than the junction Johnny Ridge Road - Gravelly Range Road. But the climb is less than 300 foot, so I'll call this a shoulder summit.

From North. (described downwards). There is a fleeting view of the Greenhorn Range to the west, but the ride takes on more and more of a plateau character, until the route turns right off FR290 onto FR292 and descends onto Call Creek Road. This last part of FR290 is also more heavily graveled. The turnoff is clearly marked, and staying on FR290 would involve opening a gate. A fast descend leads to more groves of dead trees. They mark the transition from national forest land to private land to the many widely scattered houses south of Enis. The road becomes a steep, heavily graveled descend, that would be difficult to climb. But views of  peaks in the Madison Range across the valley compensate for this little inconvenience. The group of three peaks Sphinx Mtn, Black Mtn and the Helmet look like glaciated horms from one direction and resemble a broken ridge from another. The profile turns right to rickety old Varney Bridge and reaches a low point crossing the Madison.


jct US287 - Mc Attee Bridge, partially up FR324 > up FR324 Johnny Ridge Road > FR290 shoulder summit: Broomtail Ridge > down FR292 Call Creek Road > Varney Bridge > south on US287 back to starting point: 53 miles with 4400ft of climbing in 5:1 hours. There is also a shorter, rough dirt road option that stays west of the Madison. (VDO) MC1.0 m3:10.8.16).