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FR485 Marsh Creek Rd s(u)

The Continental Divide between Helena and Lincoln is gentle enough to contain a multitude of pass roads, and also this unnamed summit, located on the GDMBR route. It is actually higher than any of the named passes, and an additional out and back to a lookout tower provides an even better impression of the scenery along this part of the divide.

1,START-END NORTH:jct Mo279 - Stemple Pass Rd
2.Stemple Pass
3.TOP, 7020ft Marsh Creek Rd s(u)
4.jct Marsh Creek Rd - Little Prickly Pear Rd, past Lucky Llama Ranch
5.START-END SOUTH:jct Mo279 - Little Prickly Pear Rd


From North.
You can keep on climbing at the top of Stemple Pass, and that leads to this summit. The trees open up and the rounded forested hills recede towards the north in waves of green. From here the landscape presents a different picture. It has changed from the straight lined grass covered hills in the valley. From here it looks like a parade of glacier smoothed drumlin hills - a swarm of giant whale-backs, foreshortened by the flat light of haze and smoke of summer. At the highest point a short out and back leads to a Lookout tower.

From South. The downhill is common with the CD trail for a while. Where the two split the temptation to follow the track of the CD trail is strong. But the GDMBR heads downhill along a fast and furious decent on the same old Marsh Creek Rd. The road transverses a large zone of pine beetle devastation and then stays at the bottom of a wooded valley. Before reaching the jct with Prickly Pear Rd, the GDBMR cyclist is greeted by old bicycles doubling as artistic expressions by the roadside, and perhaps calls to take a rest on an inviting large green meadow. This is the GDBMR rest stop area of Barbara and Tom. More in the Notes below and on the next page:

The GDMBR turns right at the next jct to climb up to Ottawa Gulch Rd s(u), while the profile descends all the way back to CR279 in order to illustrate the dayride below, which is short enough for a day of extreme August heat.

Sidetrip to Granite Butte Lookout

This detour is only about a mile or so long, and it does buy a lot in the elevation department. The last part goes steeply up an open meadow to a lookout tower, flanked by a grove of dead trees - the only good dead tree scenery around for many a mile

1,START-END NORTH:jct Mo279 - Stemple Pass Rd
2.Stemple Pass
3.Marsh Creek Rd s(u)
4.TOP: 7600ft, Granite Butte(ow)

Slideshow of the sidetrip to Butte Lookout

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < Stemple Pass | Ottawa Gulch Rd s(u) > )

FR485 Marsh Creek Rd s(u) : several miles up Stemple Pass Rd from jct CR279 - Stemple Pass Rd > up Stemple Pass Rd > Stemple Pass(shp) > FR 485 south > FR485 Marsh Creek Rd s(u) <> out and back to Granite Butte lookout > FR485 south > down Little Prickly Pear Rd > CR279 north > back to starting point on Stemple Pass Rd: 36.3miles with 3340ft of climbing in 4:17hrs (garmin etrex30 m3:20.820),
Notes: the orignal plan was to keep going over another summit direction Marysville. But when I started talking to Barbara and John and the GDMBR bikers being entertained there, I cut short these plans, substituting to visit here tonight (picture below)