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Crown Butte, MT | April-2016 (1.9 miles, 1,040 ft)

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Crown Butte is one of several laccoliths that protrude from the prairie south west of Great Falls.  It is the smaller cousin of the nearby Square Butte, which figures so famously in Charlie Russell paintings.  The butte is primarily owned by the Nature Conservancy, as a preserve for native prairie grasses.  The summit grasses have been well protected from civilization by the ring of surrounding cliffs.  The Nature Conservancy allows public access, and no notification is required.  Pets, camping, fires, and mountain bikes are not allowed.  The access road and the first part of the hike are on land owned by the Cascade Hutterite Colony, so stay on the road and trail. 

To get there, take the Simms-Cascade Road, which is an all-weather gravel road, to near the south-east side of Crown Butte.  Turn west onto a dirt road that may be difficult or impassible in wet weather.  There are several signs indicating that this is the access road to the Crown Butte Preserve.  Park on the south side of the east-west fence and walk through the gate.  Follow the old 2-track north to the concrete stock tank, then transition to the foot path that heads northerly up the south-west side of the butte.  The foot path will lead to an easily climbable passage through the rim of cliffs.  Continue on to the summit, where there will be ample space for any antenna, and spectacular views in all directions.