Saddle Peak, Bridger Peak, Baldy and (false) Baldy Traverse

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Trip Report
Montana, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Jun 8, 2014
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Created On: Jun 9, 2014
Last Edited On: Jul 10, 2014

Saddle Peak, Bridger Peak, Baldy and (false) Baldy Traverse

         This loop requires 2 vehicles or you can call for a ride like I did. My friend bailed out on me at the last minute so I went solo. The plan was to park at the Middle Cottonwood trail head and summit Saddle then walk the ridge bagging the other 3 and then come down the Sypes canyon side. The beauty of this hike is that the 2 trail heads are only about 6 miles by road apart so it's an easy shuttle. You can also come down the "M" but the shuttle is longer. Also Saddle is the high point so everything else is down hill from there MOL. Doing it the reverse way means all the climbing will be at the end but it is still doable.                                                                                                                To get to the Middle Cottonwood trail head take Springhill Rd to a right on Sypes Canyon Rd. In just a few miles turn left on Summer Cutoff Rd. This is the main paved road between the 2 trail heads. Turn right at the end and then keep going to the trail head. I think this route is better for access to Middle and shorter than Springhill to Toohey Rd which is dirt. 
         Middle Cottonwood is a very pretty place. The trail is easy at the bottom but it gets to be moderate to strenuous at the top of Saddle. Make sure you walk over to the north peak of Saddle because that is the high one. You then just start walking south down the Bridger Ridge trail. This trail is easy to follow with a few ups and downs and then you summit Bridger Peak. Bridger is more of a bump than a peak and I actually didn't realize I had already summited it until I got to Baldy when I turned on my topo GPS.  It took me about an hour and 45 minutes from Saddle to Baldy. Baldy summit has some big rocks (small cliffs?) on top but you can get up easy from either end. Baldy is about 30' higher and off the main ridge trail. Next you come to (false) Baldy. This peak actually has no name but is the destination for many coming from the "M". There is a cairn and sign in books which are not there on real Baldy. Now continue walking south down the same ridge trail and just before treeline will be a cairn with a stick in it marking a trail junction without a sign. It's the only one. The right hand turn goes to Sypes and the left goes to the "M". From here you can see the trail where it pops out way down this ridge. Just stay on this trail which follows this ridge line MOL. The trail divides and reconnects twice which is confusing and there are no signs. Further down is a sign with one trail going left downhill toward the "M". Take the right side here (remember, stay on the ridge) to Sypes. Later on it will start traversing a hillside and then down into Sypes Canyon. Now you just need a ride back to your car at Middle Cottonwood. 
       FWIW   The forest service has designated trails which are marked on some of the maps but not other maps that they issue and there are undesignated ones like the final approach of Saddle which is kinda like a trail and the entire Ridge Trail which is on some maps and the portion from (false) Baldy to the intersection with Sypes Canyon Trail which isn't on any map. These are all good trails and are there for your enjoyment so use them.  
      I figure this hike is about 16 miles. It took me 8 hours including breaks. There's lots to see up there so take your time. It's a strenuous long hike so be reasonably fit.   


Addendum 1:    When I did that last hike my friend rolled into town and called me when I was on the ridge, There's good reception up there LOL. He was really excited about this hike so we did it again 2 days later. I missed Bridger again but figured out that it's the highest bump in the long saddle between Saddle Peak and Baldy. The trail goes right over it and you don't even notice that you are on a named peak. No big deal actually.

Addendum 2:    For a shorter and easier route but with no peak baggin you can hike from Middle Cottonwood using the Bridger Foothills Trail AKA the Bridger Mountains National Recreation Trail (#534). Park at Middle and at the sign one mile up the trail take a right. It's about 4 miles total one way up to the Sypes Canyon Trail junction that I already mentioned. The trail is not too strenuous at all and way easier than the big route that I did twice. From the sign at the Sypes junction you can go down to the Sypes TH or the "M" both of which will require a shuttle or turn around and go back the way you came which is what I did. These are all about 4 miles from there so which ever way you take will be about 8 miles total. I did this one June 19, 2014 after many days of rain and the mountains had new snow down to about 7000' which is just about as high as you get on this one. I liked it.


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Saddle Peak, Bridger Peak, Baldy and (false) Baldy Traverse

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