There are a couple of options to choose from when climbing Francs Peak from the Jack Creek drainage. The longest is to park at the Jack Creek trail head, which is located at the very end of Road 208 past the Four Bear Oil Field. I haven't hiked this trail, so I cannot give any information about stream crossings (of which several are shown on the map), etc., but it would likely need to be done as a two-day backpack; the round trip distance to the summit of Francs from the trail head would be around 11 or 12 miles with 5500+ feet of elevation gain.
Another much shorter option which still utilizes the upper part of Jack Creek is to drive the Phelps Mountain Jeep Road to its end and to descend into the drainage from there. The distance to the summit via this route is only 3.5 miles with 2700 feet of vertical gain; while there is a lengthy and somewhat unpleasant scree slog to reach the ridge at 12,400 feet, this route would appeal to anyone to who is interested in exploring the old mining cabins and ruins located at upper east end of the drainage. It is also a good and quick route for a descent from the top after a climb of the Northeast Ridge, especially if weather is threatening.
The upper slopes
Phelps Mountain Road sign
Follow Highway 290 west from Meeteetse past Sunshine Reservoir until you reach the obvious fork at Pappapau Butte. Bear right and follow the main road for 5.5 miles to another fork. Don't go across the bridge, but turn left; keep right when the road forks again after 1.5 miles. After another 2.3 miles turn left and keep on the road marked "208" on the topo map. About 3.0 miles down this road, you will reach some oil field equipment and see a sign telling you to turn left for the Phelps Mountain Road. After the turn go another 0.5 mile, where there is a right turn that begins the 4WD section; there is sign marking the road as "4WD only", and they are not kidding!
Nearing Francs Peak on the Phelps Mountain Road
This next section of the road gains 1500 feet in the next 1.5 miles, so the grade is steep and there are lots of rocks to avoid. Keep right at the only fork, which is just before a gate about a half mile up the road. Once you reach the top of the ridge, the driving gets much easier all of the way to the end of the road. After 4.5 miles, keep left at the fork and continue for another 5.0 miles to the highest point just before the end of the road. The 4WD section is a total of 9.5 miles and gains about 4500 feet of elevation!
If you want to climb the very long route from the Jack Creek trail head, continue past the oil field equipment for another 5.0 miles to reach the end of the road.
Old mining cabins and tunnels
Climb this gully
Begin your climb from the end of the road by following faint trails or heading towards the mountain down about 600 feet into the Jack Creek drainage. Stay as high as possible on the left side of the creek; the topo map shows a trail leading high up to the old mines, but it is very faint or nonexistent is most places. Stay to the right of the gentle spur that comes down to the right of the cabins (marked with the word "Mine" on the map), and climb about a 1000 feet up the scree fields to the ridge. Keep to the right and follow the drainage that leads to the number "10" on the map.
Looking back down the Jack Creek drainage
The steep part on the ridge
From the ridge you will begin a very steep scree climb to your right, which is probably the most difficult part of the route. Watch your footing, as everything is super loose; once you reach the top of this slope at about 12,700 feet, there is relatively flat section that winds around slightly to the left to the next plateau. Bypass the next 12,900-foot hill by going slightly up and then around to the left (this was a short snowfield even in September), and then follow the top of the ridge to the base of the summit, where a faint trail in the scree leads directly to the top.
Nearing the summit
Essential Gear and External Links
Bring bear spray! This area around this peak is thick with grizzlies, and after reading the summit register, where entry after entry recounts seeing multiple bears, it would just be foolish not to bring it! Normal day hike gear should suffice for most summer weather conditions.
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