I needed a fix.
For the past several months I’ve enjoyed daily hikes of 3-6 miles on the nice trails in the foothills south of Helena, just minutes from my house. I don’t mind being around other hikers and their dogs – All are generally in a good mood when hiking. However, periodically I get the urge to visit some place more wild, away from people, trails, and sounds of the city. So this past Thursday I used my last personal vacation day to drive out between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs and climb Mount Edith.

Go your own way. (Fleetwood Mac)
I climbed Mt. Edith several years ago with a friend. It was mid-summer, so we were able to drive all the way to the trailhead and make the 7-mile round-trip hike to the highest peak in the Big Belts (9,504 ft.) in a few hours. However, this time (4/25/19) the roads were too muddy to reach the trailhead. So I drove as far as I could, parked alongside the road, and set off on my adventure (map of route in photo tour). The trek was just what I needed – 14.8 miles round-trip and over 4,000 feet of elevation gain with a little bit of everything; route-finding, old growth forests, open areas, and plenty of snow-shoeing. I started hiking at 7 am and got back to my car at 3:45 pm, exhausted but feeling mentally refreshed by the strong dose of “wild” provided by the journey. Highlights of the trip included great views of the Bridgers and Crazies, walking through a blow-down, a close encounter with a group of beautiful mountain goats, and perfect spring weather. (Photo Tour)

baldyphotoLooking across Canyon Ferry Lake at Big Belts from Hwy 287 north of Townsend – Photo courtesy of Montanabw (Wikipedia)

Other options in the area.
As much as I enjoyed the day, I recommend waiting until summer before climbing Edith – and I suggest that you follow the trail. To find out how to find the trailhead check out the link below. For an even better hike in the Big Belts, climb Mt. Baldy 3 miles west of Edith instead (see link below). Although it is a longer trek, the walk to Baldy is much more pleasant and scenic. Another challenging option is to do both in one day. Start at the Mt. Edith Traihead, hike to Edith, walk the rugged ridge to Baldy, then turn around and go back (12-13 miles round-trip). If you’re into backpacking consider the 18-mile Mt. Baldy Basin Loop described in 100 Classic Hikes: Montana, a book by Douglas Lorain. The loop starts at Duck Creek Pass, drops down to the little lakes below Baldy (camp there), before climbing up to Edith, over to Baldy, and then back to Duck Creek Pass. If you do the loop this summer, wait until July because (as you’ll see in my photo tour) there’s still a lot of snow around the lakes! -Rod Benson

Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far, including several in Glacier Park – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.