Pat O'Hara Mountain is a beautiful and prominent peak on the northeastern end of Wyoming's North Absarokas. Visible from Cody, Powell, and the northern Big Horn Basin, it is shorter than nearby mountains like Trout Peak and Robbers Roost, both of which are over 12,000 feet, but it ranks 220th on the Wyoming 1K list with 1,071 feet of prominence. This is a relatively quick and easy peak to reach in an area known for long approaches, and from its summit you will have a colorful and spacious view of the Absaroka and Beartooth mountain ranges.
The peak is named after one of the early trappers who established claims in the area in the 1870's. He grew old in the area and is said to have wandered off on a horse as an elderly and frail man in the direction of the peak, never to be seen again.
Getting There and Climbing Information
The easiest way to approach to Pat O'Hara Mountain is to take Monument Hill Road up to near Spout Springs. Begin by taking Highway 120 north out of Cody, Wyoming for about 8.0 miles and turn left on County Road 7UH, which is also known as Monument Hill Road. A forbidding sign warns drivers to "Travel at your own risk," but the road is in good shape for about 11 miles. At the point where the road almost reaches the saddle between Rattlesnake Mountain to the left and Pat O'Hara Mountain to the right, there is an intersection of sorts with an closed and gated road continuing straight (obviously unused for a long time), a gated road going left, and an open road (Red Grade Road) between them. Here there no less than seven or eight convoluted and misleading signs that attempt to explain the roads, including one at the front that states that travel beyond this point is allowed only with a wood-cutting permit and that there is no public land access. The Red Grade Road is open to the public and accesses the National Forest through an easement over private property; at this point the road becomes more difficult to travel, and 4WD is necessary in many places. The road crosses into the National Forest after 1.7 miles, and you will need to turn right at 2.3 miles and left at 2.7 miles from the beginning of Red Grade Road. After about 2.0 more miles take the right fork to reach the end of the road, which is gated to vehicle travel near Spout Springs. I have never driven the last bit of the road, usually opting to get out and walk because of washouts in places.
After parking, hike the remaining distance (a little more than a mile) to the right of the prominent rocky feature and climb the steep hill to the small gentle basins below the summit. There is a small and very pretty lake that sits between the two summits; the higher one is on the left as you approach. I couldn't find a benchmark on the summit, but an elevation is carved into a rock at the top. It is also possible to approach the peak from the north side by pulling off of Chief Joseph Highway near the NWC field camp and hiking the three or so miles to the top. The map shows 4WD roads extending part of the ways, but I have no beta on the state of these roads.
Red Tape and Camping
There are no access fees for the Shoshone National Forest or the North Absaroka Wilderness. The road to the Spout Springs trail head has easements across private property, so be sure to stay on the road until you pass the forest boundary. Read this page for more information regarding rules and regulations in the North Absaroka Wilderness.
This area has one of the most dense populations of grizzly bears found anywhere, sos keep an eye out for these beautiful but dangerous animals. Be sure to carry bear spray; proper food storage rules apply to overnight stays in the Wilderness.
External LinksPat O'Hara Mountain on listsofjohn
Shoshone National Forest
Wikipedia entry for the Shoshone National Forest