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Skalkaho Pass 


Travelling west on Mt38 approaching the Sapphire Mtns, you encounter the sign "steep and winding, mountainous gravel road ahead". This is a shameless exaggeration. The road goes uphill, but as the profile shows, steep is really something else. Many turns west of the summit show up on a 1:250 000 map, and they do slow down motorists considerably, but switchbacks are something else again entirely. Also the surface is fairly smooth medalled with a minumum of washboard surface (as of Sept/10, but conditons change). Instead this is a fairly tame, lovely mountain road that seems to take no end. There are no far views to speak of on the ride, but a splendid waterfall, no traffic, more trees than you can ever imagine, and lots of peace.



1.(00.0km~00.0mi, 1670m~5479ft) START-END EAST: jct FR2000-Mt38
2.(20.7km~12.9mi, 2210m~7250ft) TOP: Skalkaho Pass
3.(41.0km~25.5mi, 1431m~4695ft) Skalkaho Rye Road diverts on left
4.(62.8km~39.0mi, 1102m~3615ft) START-END WEST: jct Mt38 - U93 south of Hamilton

Approaches

From East.  The road starts climbing perceptibly after its junction with FR200. It turns from paved to a smooth dirt surface soon afterwards. But pavement returns, as the road takes up the narrow space between West Fork Rock Creek and a huge talus slope, that seems to crowd the road onto the very edge of the stream for a while. A few miles below the summit the road leaves the creek and now becomes a climb in deep forest. The shallow wide summit comes up without any prior notice. There are no views.

From West. (also described upwards) Turing west onto paved MT38, 2 miles south of Hamilton, The Skakaho Road leads in a straight line towards low wooded mountains, past well to to do suburban housing and ranches. Somewhere around mile 14 the road takes on a different character. The shoulder disappears and a narrow strip of asphalt closely follows Skalkaho Creek upwards.  Soon the road traverses uphill on the ridge leaving the creek below. The opposite ridge has been completely exfoliated by a forest fire, turing that side into a complete matchstick forest (Sept/10). The perceived major attraction on this side, Skalkaho Falls, is signed 6 miles before you get there, and these 6 miles, go by a lot slower than the previous stretch, due to somewhat steeper climbing on hard dirt.  The falls are directly next to the road. Motorists don't even have to get out of the car. After the drop the stream continues on its way unceremoniously through a drainage tube under the road. From this point along the road can also see the short shelf section of the road a few hundred feet higher. That is about as exciting as it gets, but who needs excitement when you can have peace and quiet instead. A few more turns and the road reaches the summit.

 

Tours

Dayrides. 

An out and back ride from near the jct Mt38 - FR200 <> Skalkaho Pass <> Hamilton <> starting point, crossing the pass twice measured 88 miles with 5600ft of climbing in 7 hours (VDO MC1.0 m3:10.9.2)


back to Montana's passes and summits by bicycle








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