Big Baldy is the highest point in both Judith Basin County and the Little Belt Mountain Range in North-Central Montana. The summit, elevation 9,175 feet, boasts views of the Highwood Mountains to the North and the Crazy Mountains to the South.
I have not been on top during a perfectly clear day, but one might be able to see the Rocky Mountain Front in the distance in perfect conditions. The nearby highpoint of Cascade County, Long Mountain, elevation 8621, is plainly visible to the Southwest. Porphyry Peak, just over 8200 feet in elevation, is the home to Showdown Ski Area, and is also visible from the summit.
From US Highway 89, approximately 2.2 miles south of the turnoff for Showdown Ski Area, there is a poorly signed gravel road heading Southeast. This is Forest Service Rd 3328. This moderately well-maintained road, which can be managed in a passenger car in the summer, winds through the forest for approximately 17 miles. At 12 miles, you will come to Chamberlain Creek, which is signed. Just beyond Chamberlain Creek, not quite 12.1 miles on the odometer, is a clearing that makes a great place to park. GPS coordinates here are N 46.95847 W 110.63330 with an elevation of 7385 feet.
View from the top of the described ridge.
At this point, it’s a great idea to have the Neihart and Yogo Peak USGS Quads because bushwhacking is necessary for the first mile or so and this hike is right on the border of these two Quads. Starting out from the clearing in a northeasterly direction will eventually run you to the top of a ridge where a commonly used ATV track is present. From this ridge, the mountain is visible to the East and the route is unmistakable.
From the car by this route, you will gain approximately 1800 feet over about four miles to the summit. The entire hike is Class 1 walking.
There is no unusual red tape in this area. Dirt bikes and ATVs are allowed in this area, and may be frequently encountered in summer. Similarly, snowmobiles will be present during winter months. The Belt Creek Ranger District can be reached at (406) 236-5100 with any additional questions.
There are several campgrounds within a very short drive to the mountain. The US Forest Service maintains a list of campgrounds and I’ve included the link below to their website. The closest campgrounds to the correct turnoff to climb Big Baldy are Aspen Campground, Many Pines Campground, and Kings Hill Campground, all of which are less than 20 minutes on US 89 to the correct Forest Service Road turnoff.
External LinksList of nearby Forest Service Campgrounds
Big Baldy Mountain Weather Station on summit Summit View from the West Summit Cairn