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Name: Montana Mountain Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on five votes)
Type: 4WD Difficulty: (Easy 4WD)
Time: 4 - 6 hours (this trail only) Region: Central Arizona
Length: 33.0 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +4065 / -3690 ft / +375 ft (one way)
Type: Modified loop Avg Elevation: 3500 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Medium Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: March, 2009
Short Description: An easy 4WD trail through some beautiful scenery and lots of places to hike and explore
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Mini-Grand Canyon; To the Batcave Robin; Jail Perhaps; Indian Cave
References / Contact Information: Arizona Backcountry Adventures, pages 450 and 454; FJ Cruiser Forum
Points of interest: Wood Camp cabin, access to hiking trails, mine and ranch ruins.
Special Considerations: Switchbacks can be scary for those afraid of heights and long wheel-based vehicles may need to perform multiple point turns
How to get there: The trailhead is located about 2 miles east of Florence Junction on highway US60. Take a left at Waypoint 001 on Queen Valley road. Click here for directions

Trail Description

The Montana Mountain trail is an easy 4WD trail, which offers scenic views, varying terrain, old mining and ranch cabins and even a few anxious moments for those who are scared of heights. This trail also provides access to many hiking trails.

General Information and History

The Montana Mountain trail begins near Florence Junction and ends up near Superior. It’s a long, but easy trail that novice four-wheelers can gain their confidence and hone their skills on. Almost any 4WD vehicle should be able to tackle this trail (though long wheel-based vehicles will have to make multiple-point turns at the sharp switchbacks which can get the blood pumping). The trail starts as it winds through Hewitt Canyon for many miles. If you look at the topo map, the trail roughly follows Hewitt Canyon Rd., but not always. Don’t worry, keep on the main road. It’s fairly easy to keep on track. The trails takes you from the cactus laden desert floor to scrub pine and juniper forest of Montana Mountain, then back down again. The ride up to the high point (about 5500 feet) is fairly gentle and easy. The trail on the backside of the mountain is a series of sharp switchbacks which takes you down about 1200 feet in 2 miles of road (approximately 1 mile as the crow flies). The switchback offer great views of the valley below. Can you see the stone cabin just off the trail about ¾ of a mile away? These switchbacks can be a little scary for anyone with a fear of heights.

The trail in this section can be narrow. Watch for vehicles coming from the opposite direction so you can plan where to pass. After the switchbacks end, you will come to a left at Wood Camp (Waypoint 023). Take this small spur (about ¼ mile) to the cabin you saw from on top of the mountain. The cabin is in fairly good shape and has some other ruins (including a mine across the wash) a short distance away. A nice place to explore or have lunch. As the trail rolls along the foothills it crisscrosses a nice wash. There’s a neat old shed next to Waypoint 027, not much left at Waypoint Ruins and an impressive stone corral at Waypoint Stone. You can also access Ridgeline Loop Trail at Waypoint R1 or R20 (see Ridgeline Loop trail).

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The Trail

The trail follows Queen Valley road for about 1.5 miles, then bear right on Hewitt Station Rd. (FR 357). This part of the trail is a little boring and easy. At Waypoint 005, turn left at the signs for Rogers Trough and Woodbury Trailheads (FR172). Continue along main road, there will be many secondary forest roads leading off in both directions. Between Waypoints 009 and 010, is the Elephant Arch (Waypoint Arch) which I have yet to visit.

Now the trail begins to get interesting as it climbs toward Montana Mountain. At Waypoint 013, turn right on FR172A (following signs for Rogers Trough). A left here goes to Woodbury Trailhead. At Waypoint 015, take a right onto FR650 (a left will take you to Rogers Trough trailhead). The trail winds its way through scrub pine, oak and juniper—a nice change from the prickly desert below. At Waypoint 017, you’ve reached the peak of Montana Mountain and the Reavis Canyon hiking trail. Keep following the main trail. You can hike at Spencer or Rock Creek hiking trails, which are located at Waypoint 019 and 020, respectively.

At Waypoint 021, you will begin the steep decent from Montana Mountain via some sharp switchbacks. The descent is quick, the road is narrow and the turns are sharp. If you’re scared of heights, close your eyes during this portion of the trail (unless of course, you’re driving). Once down the switchbacks, make sure you take the ¼ mile spur to the cabin at Waypoint 023. It’s a great place for a picnic. There’s also a mine across small wash.

After leaving the cabin, take a left on the main road. The trail continues to slowly descend as it crisscrosses the wash. You will pass another access to Reavis Canyon trail at Waypoint 026 and the Ridgeline Loop 4WD Trail at Waypoint R1 (which could be 027). A shed can be visited at Waypoint 028. There are ruins labeled at Waypoint Ruins, but we only found some old tin roof pieces and not much else. The exit to the Ridgeline 4WD trail is at Waypoint R20. If you have time, take the short trip to see the Indian Cave, the Jail and the Mini-canyon just a short distance down this road (see Ridgeline Loop trail). Finally, a really neat old stone corral at Waypoint Stone can be reached by a short trail on the right. Take a right at Waypoint 029 on FR8.

Keep on FR8 until just before you reach highway US60, taking a just before Waypoint 030 gets you back on US60. There, now you’ve had a full day of four-wheeling, some nice scenery and some history, wasn’t that cool?

Have fun and be safe!

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Comments

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Member Comments

Quads on Montana Mountain?

Question: Hi there!  I am one of those that is afraid of heights and whose 4WD does have a long base.  That being said, I will tackle just about anything on my quad, which is also 4wd.  Any issues w/ taking this route on a quad?

Answer: No. I've seen quads on this trail every time I've been on it, though this may not solve the afraid of heights issue. I don't believe it will be as bad on a quad than on a truck since you can hug the side of the cliff with a quad much easier than with a truck.

Great trail

December 5, 2012

I just did this adventure 12/03/2012. It was very fun. I was in a fullsize Bronco and had no problems. If you were in a big/long truck you might have problems at some of the switchbacks. The ruins were very cool. I would recommend getting out there early, because after 11am riders on dirtbikes start showing up.

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