“A rare climb to the top of a mountain peak.
— Lance Pysher
Most of the peaks in the Bitterroot are within the wilderness boundary. Ward Mountain is your only chance to ride from valley bottom peak top with nearly 5000' of sustained climbing.
If your sole goal is riding fast flowy trail, you can stick to the lower third of the mountain where the trail is the sweetest, and it is a great afterwork option, but sometimes you want to climb until there no more trail; until there is no more climbing to be done. For those times some pushing, some suffering is expected. Especially, if the downhill will burn your forearms for the next week.
So push on past the fun bottom zone, through the old burn and pedal your way up to the top.
There are no forks or challenging route finding issues. Find the trail and climb.
The bottom third has the highest quality trail, with a great grade for climbing and plenty of swoop of the way back down. Climbing to the burn can be a great post-work ride. Once at the burn, the trail gets steeper with some erosion and encroaching lodgepole on the edges of the trail. Until you are out of the burn there is a fair amount of hike-a-bike, and be prepared for fallen trees, there are still quite a few dead snags waiting for the next windstorm.
After the burn, the trail levels out temporarily until you reach Raven's Rock. Take a break at the overlook into Roaring Lion and Goat Mountain.
From here on out the trail slowly eases up on the gradient, but the top seems forever distant. Stagger to the top, ooh and ahh a few times. Take a selfie. Check the status of your brake pads and hope you have been doing your forearm exercise since you have 5000' to descend.
History & Background
Ward Mountain dominates the Bitterroot Valley south of Hamilton and has the only peak trail in the range accessible to bikes.