We managed to sneak one last ride in before heading home. Butte was on the way and John had mentioned that Beaver Ponds was a great trail so we met him at International Coffee Traders in Bozeman first thing in the morning and headed out. And weather-wise, our luck had changed. It was a beautiful sunny day!
Beaver Ponds is found in Pipestone Pass, just south of Butte. It took us approximately an hour to drive there from Bozeman and we’re glad we were following John, even if he did try to take us on the scenic tour… We probably would have missed the trailhead otherwise. (The trailhead is marked where we exited, but not where we started.)
The Beaver Ponds trail is sandy and quite a bit drier than the clay based trails we rode the previous day. It started off with a gentle climb straight from the highway and into the trees where it started to level out before the climbing again. Luckily the climbing here was a gentler grade than Grassy Mountain. Luckily the ride was more social than getting a workout in so it was a relaxed pace. The trail is lined by large boulders which makes for perfect resting areas to sit and gab while catching your breath.
The trail is also shared with horses and hikers. Somewhere near the halfway mark we ran into a horseback rider doing some trail maintenance. He explained that parts of the trail are too narrow for a horse to get through so they were widening a few areas and making the trail more passable. Not far from where we saw him, we ran into a group of mountain bikers who were also doing a bit of trail maintenance. It was a good reminder that many of the trails are shared with different user groups and good too see that they all were taking an active part in maintaining the trail.
Finally we started the descent. The trail had a few rock gardens that we needed to maneuver through but otherwise was smooth and flowy. About halfway down I really wished I had a helmet cam… Colin managed to clip one of his bar ends on a tree and bounced off 5 or 6 trees before his bike became lodged between two of trees on the trail and bucked him off. I’d never seen anything like it and it was quite something to watch. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, aside from his ego and a few bruises. After reconstructing the accident to see how he managed to do it, we continued on our way.
The trail ended back at the highway and we pedalled just over a mile uphill to get back to our cars. It was an easy pedal, but in hindsight we would have parked at cars at the end of the trail and started with the climb on the road to warm up.
I really liked John’s reflection on the ride. You can read his blog post here.
Continental Divide Trail & Beaver Ponds, Butte Montana
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