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6742, MT| June, 2022

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5.4 miles; + 2,077 feet; -608 feet; From the Petty Creek TH along Ford Creek

From the intersection of Hwy 287 and Main Street in Augusta, travel southwest on Main Street, turn right in 0.3 miles and follow the signs towards Benchmark.  The trailhead is at the USFS Double Falls campground 19.3 miles from Augusta.

In 2022 there was a makeshift bridge crossing Ford Creek at the campground.  Follow the very well maintained FS 244 trail to the south over the ridge.  The trail will drop down to cross Petty Creek in a large meadow.  There is good camping in the meadow, or at a well-used site in the trees on the west side of the meadow.  You can either shortcut by hopping across Petty Creek at the campsite to meet FS  232, or continue on FS 244 to cross Petty Creek.  After crossing the creek, FS 244 goes a short distance east as it ascends to a bench on the south side of the creek.  The official intersection between FS 244 and FS 232 in on this bench.  There is a third obvious trail that angles up the hill to the southwest of FS 232.  This unofficial trail appears heavily used and may ascend to the saddle that is immediately below the east side of the summit of W7M/FS-143.  If so – there are chances that this is a reasonable shortcut – albeit with a much steeper final ascent.

From the junction of FS 244 and FS 232, follow FS 232 approximately 1.5 miles up Petty Creek.  I left the trail at the location where it crossed from the south side of the creek to the north side and continued off-trail up to the saddle between the subpeak 6253 and W7M/CL-143, then continued up the ridge to the summit.  This is an easy bushwack, much of which is through the 2021 Crown Mountain Burn.  There is little deadfall and the grade is nice.  The summit is open with a great view of Haystack Butte and the eastern prairie, and much of the Rocky Mountain Front.  Looking northwest up the Benchmark Valley Prairie Reef can be seen in the distance.  To the left of Prairie Reef, it is even possible to view Sphinx Peak atop the Chinese Wall.