A White-Knuckled Descent

Day 11: Lowland Campground to Wise River (71.2 miles, 5,857ft)

Morning light at Lowland Campsite
Eleanor is up early!

We got off to an early start, quickly ascending to our 5th divide crossing, before continuing to Elk Park Pass a few hundred feet below. After a few more miles of descent on the dirt road past country ranches, we reached a paved road and continued through open, rolling countryside to Butte.

Approaching Butte.

From Butte, we followed a relatively large road out the east side of town before connecting with Montana Highway 2. A few miles further south, we continued onto route 84, which ascended sharply to an open highland area with country homes. The road became a dirt road and continued gradually to our 6th divide crossing.

The next few miles passed through rolling highland and sparse pasture country. Our final descent was steeper than many we’d yet encountered, and we put our brakes to work on the way down to cross under interstate 15.

Preparing to descend back to Interstate 15

After following a frontage road north along the west side of the interstate for a couple of miles, we turned west following the gravel Divide Creek Road toward the mountains to our west.

Nearly halfway up our climb we stopped at Beaver Dam Campground to refill our water, before continuing up the remainder of the climb. After crossing over an initial high point, we reached a rough dirt double track in a saddle and turned left going up steeply toward Mt. Fleecer.

Up to Mt. Fleecer.

A few hundred feet higher we turned southeast and began a frenetic, dusty single track descent, which while manageable for the first few hundred meters, quickly became too steep, rocky, and loose for comfort. Even walking our bikes downhill, we had to take regular detours into the sage brush on either side of the trail for improved traction.

Beginning the descent down Mt. Fleecer
An elevation profile you don’t usually see
Time to walk the bikes

Once completing the worst of the descent, the road quality progressively improved taking us to a junction with Montana Highway 43 at Jerry Creek.

Easier riding

A couple of miles riding west on the highway brought us to Wise River, where we camped out for a fee behind a quaint local combo bar, restaurant, motel, and RV park.

All-in-one stop