The state of Montana is home to stunning ranges, rugged peaks, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. If you are interested in mountaineering adventure, challenges to fill a lifetime can be found in Glacier National Park, the Beartooths, and many other places in this large state. Stratford Hill is not one of those places.
This lonely point is located on a gentle ridge at the edge of many miles of vast farmland south of the city of Billings, MT. A road takes you within a half mile of the summit (the term is used loosely here), and a flat walk through a field with a whopping sixty feet of elevation gain puts you on top. So why visit this place?
Stratford Hill is the highest point in Yellowstone County, so this is a must-visit place for anyone who is interested in county highpointing in Montana. While the drive and short hike to get here are far from exciting, the views from the top are very nice, and include the northern part of the Big Horn Range, Pryor Mountain, the Northern Absarokas, the Eastern Beartooths, and the Crazy Mountains. In addition, this summit provides a very nice spot to get away from the noise of the city and soak in the vastness of the Montana sky; there is a reason that it is known as Big Sky Country!
Stratford Hill has 521 feet of prominence and its elevation of 4971 feet ranks 38th out of the 56 Montana county highpoints. Sources: www.listsofjohn.com and www.peakbagger.com.
From I-90 south of Billings, take the South Billings Boulevard exit and go south for about 10 miles on Blue Creek Road. Turn right on Cormier Road; there is a massive farming operation just off to the right once you turn on the road. Travel on this well-maintained dirt road for a little over 11 miles through many turns and direction changes as it weaves through the wheat fields. Look for a sign marking the intersection of Cormier and Stratford Hill Road at the right angle turn that heads back north in the direction of Billings. Park here and look southwest for the windsock that is posted near the highpoint.
Crawl through the barbed wire fence and head across the field in the direction of the windsock, which marks the burial plot of the Stratford family. There is also an unmarked grave just south of the fenced area. The summit is right next to the large stone block, and there is a USGS benchmark in the ground. Technically, given the flat surroundings, the top of the rock is the highest point!
The town of Pryor is situated to the south and can be seen in the valley between Stratford Hill and Pryor Mountain; the best views are found looking west on a clear day when the Beartooths are covered in snow, which is a spectacular sight.
Red TapeStratford Hill is located on private land, but there are no signs posted (as of October 2009) that prohibit people from making the trip to this point. According to Montana Trespass Law, the public can enter private land if no signs are posted. However, hunting is not allowed on private land without written permission from the landowner; please be respectful of this land and of the graves that are located here.
External LinksLists of John page
County Highpoint site