Distance: 4.5 miles roundtrip (7.3 km)
Elevation: 7330 - 9665 feet (2235 - 2947 meters)
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
Season: June-early October
Sacagewea Peak, at 9,665 feet, is the highest summit of the Bridger Mountains in south-central Montana. This hike is a short, but very steep climb to the top of the range, with outstanding views of the area, including Bozeman, the surrounding valleys, and most of the Bridger Mountain ridgeline.
Bridger Range from Fairly Lake Road
To get to Sacagewea Peak, take MT-86 out of Bozeman north toward the Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Drive 22 miles to the Fairly Lake Road to the left. Fairly Lake Road is one mile after the campground. Drive Fairly Lake Road seven miles to the Fairly Lake parking area and the trail begins just up the slope from there.
The trail starts off in the forest of subalpine fir and Englemann spruce at about 7300 feet elevation. The trail climbs pretty steadily as it ascends up to the edge of the hanging valley. The trail soon begins to ascend above this thick forest into a more open forest also containing numerous whitebark pines. As you begin to enter the hanging valley, a spectacular cirque opens up offering view up to the saddle above and the amazing geologic formations that make up these mountains.
A little of last year's snow (brown) and some fresh snow (white)
The trail levels out a bit as it heads up the bowl, but then climbs up steeply up the slope at the back of the valley. But, that steep climb also means vastly increasing views!
On the slopes on either side are highly tilted and often folded layers of sedimentary rock laid down some 350 million years ago. Mostly limestone and mudstones, these rocks contain all kinds of fossils of crinoids, corals, and brachiopods from the ancient inland sea that covered the region.
Sacagewea Peak from the saddle
Climbing up from the saddle with Hardscrabble Peak beyond
Looking south along the axis of the Bridger Mountains from the side of Sacagewea Peak
The view from almost the top. It was a little rushed as I scrambled down quickly to evade the goat who started following me down the trail!