Author Topic: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek  (Read 246 times)

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Offline ejworden10

Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« on: April 14, 2015, 06:44:34 pm »
Doing a 3 day tour and wanting to ride Rock Creek road from Missoula area to Phillipsburg then to Anaconda.  Wanting to know how much on dirt roads and condition of roads.  Will be riding 28mm Gatorskin tires and wonder if that will be ok.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2015, 08:25:37 am »
Did it between P'Burg and I-90 in the opposite direction in 2011.

Heading in your direction, the first 10 miles or so of Rock Creek Road is paved. You will pass an outfitter called Trout Bum that has a coffee bar and snacks. It's the only place to get snacks until P'burg. (You will pass a couple of U.S.F.S. campgrounds that I believe have water.) Take a walk out onto the cable and plank bridge you will pass on your right. Then there is about 30 miles of dirt (IIRC) to the junction of MT 348 that takes you to P'burg. The road conditions car vary the father up you go due to the creek spilling its banks. I was riding 37c tires and did a bit of slipping and sliding in the dirt early on. Also, the U.S.F.S. puts down calcium chloride on part of the road to keep the dust down. This can create a slightly wet/muddy section. We stayed at Ekstrom Stage Station at the end of the day and had to wash off our bikes. There were also a few sections with rocks, but they weren't long. I have never toured on 28c tires so I don't want to discourage you, especially since it's a beautiful ride, but it might be tough going in spots.

Here are some photos I assembled for someone else who asked abut the road:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157647572217733/

MT 348, which is paved, is going to involve a short but stiff in places climb to get over the ridge. Here is a route map with profile:

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7503410

You will know you are there by the sign naming the bridge in honor of a local resident who died in Iraq. It's not far after you pass a B&B.

The campground/motel in P'burg is nice. There is a spot by an equipment shed that offers shade and has Adirondack style chairs and Purple Martin houses attached to a fence. The grocery store is basically right across the street from the entrance, and you can walk into the center of town. Don't miss the old ice cream parlor in town. I was there again last year. Good milkshakes.

The first 10 or so miles on MT 1 out of P'burg (up to the junction with MT 38) is pretty easy but then things get steep for a while. The latter part of the climb is exposed. Riding towards P'burg we stopped to talk to a couple of people riding up in the intense, afternoon sun. They were pretty knackered. Once you get up to Georgetown Lake it's flat and then, shortly after you pass Silver Lake, all down hill to Anaconda. If you need water as you are descending there is a plumbed spring just off MT 1 right before the interpretive sign for an old gold strike. You will see a paved road that bears down hill on the right. The spring is a short distance down there. You can leave you bike at the sign and walk down it's that close.

How do you plan to get back from Anaconda?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2015, 09:51:41 am by indyfabz »

Offline ejworden10

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2015, 03:42:37 pm »
Thanks for the info.  I think we have decided to do a counter clockwise circle from Missoula to Lost Trail pass, then to Anaconda then back to Missoula via Rock Creek.  3 days.  Just don't want to have a mess for the Rock Creek section.

Offline administrator

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2015, 06:15:30 pm »
Great route information Indyfabz, thanks for sharing your experience!

Did it between P'Burg and I-90 in the opposite direction in 2011.

Heading in your direction, the first 10 miles or so of Rock Creek Road is paved. You will pass an outfitter called Trout Bum that has a coffee bar and snacks. It's the only place to get snacks until P'burg. (You will pass a couple of U.S.F.S. campgrounds that I believe have water.) Take a walk out onto the cable and plank bridge you will pass on your right. Then there is about 30 miles of dirt (IIRC) to the junction of MT 348 that takes you to P'burg. The road conditions car vary the father up you go due to the creek spilling its banks. I was riding 37c tires and did a bit of slipping and sliding in the dirt early on. Also, the U.S.F.S. puts down calcium chloride on part of the road to keep the dust down. This can create a slightly wet/muddy section. We stayed at Ekstrom Stage Station at the end of the day and had to wash off our bikes. There were also a few sections with rocks, but they weren't long. I have never toured on 28c tires so I don't want to discourage you, especially since it's a beautiful ride, but it might be tough going in spots.

Here are some photos I assembled for someone else who asked abut the road:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157647572217733/

MT 348, which is paved, is going to involve a short but stiff in places climb to get over the ridge. Here is a route map with profile:

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7503410

You will know you are there by the sign naming the bridge in honor of a local resident who died in Iraq. It's not far after you pass a B&B.

The campground/motel in P'burg is nice. There is a spot by an equipment shed that offers shade and has Adirondack style chairs and Purple Martin houses attached to a fence. The grocery store is basically right across the street from the entrance, and you can walk into the center of town. Don't miss the old ice cream parlor in town. I was there again last year. Good milkshakes.

The first 10 or so miles on MT 1 out of P'burg (up to the junction with MT 38) is pretty easy but then things get steep for a while. The latter part of the climb is exposed. Riding towards P'burg we stopped to talk to a couple of people riding up in the intense, afternoon sun. They were pretty knackered. Once you get up to Georgetown Lake it's flat and then, shortly after you pass Silver Lake, all down hill to Anaconda. If you need water as you are descending there is a plumbed spring just off MT 1 right before the interpretive sign for an old gold strike. You will see a paved road that bears down hill on the right. The spring is a short distance down there. You can leave you bike at the sign and walk down it's that close.

How do you plan to get back from Anaconda?

Offline indyfabz

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2015, 08:44:48 am »
Great route information Indyfabz, thanks for sharing your experience!

Did it between P'Burg and I-90 in the opposite direction in 2011.

Heading in your direction, the first 10 miles or so of Rock Creek Road is paved. You will pass an outfitter called Trout Bum that has a coffee bar and snacks. It's the only place to get snacks until P'burg. (You will pass a couple of U.S.F.S. campgrounds that I believe have water.) Take a walk out onto the cable and plank bridge you will pass on your right. Then there is about 30 miles of dirt (IIRC) to the junction of MT 348 that takes you to P'burg. The road conditions car vary the father up you go due to the creek spilling its banks. I was riding 37c tires and did a bit of slipping and sliding in the dirt early on. Also, the U.S.F.S. puts down calcium chloride on part of the road to keep the dust down. This can create a slightly wet/muddy section. We stayed at Ekstrom Stage Station at the end of the day and had to wash off our bikes. There were also a few sections with rocks, but they weren't long. I have never toured on 28c tires so I don't want to discourage you, especially since it's a beautiful ride, but it might be tough going in spots.

Here are some photos I assembled for someone else who asked abut the road:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157647572217733/

MT 348, which is paved, is going to involve a short but stiff in places climb to get over the ridge. Here is a route map with profile:

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/7503410

You will know you are there by the sign naming the bridge in honor of a local resident who died in Iraq. It's not far after you pass a B&B.

The campground/motel in P'burg is nice. There is a spot by an equipment shed that offers shade and has Adirondack style chairs and Purple Martin houses attached to a fence. The grocery store is basically right across the street from the entrance, and you can walk into the center of town. Don't miss the old ice cream parlor in town. I was there again last year. Good milkshakes.

The first 10 or so miles on MT 1 out of P'burg (up to the junction with MT 38) is pretty easy but then things get steep for a while. The latter part of the climb is exposed. Riding towards P'burg we stopped to talk to a couple of people riding up in the intense, afternoon sun. They were pretty knackered. Once you get up to Georgetown Lake it's flat and then, shortly after you pass Silver Lake, all down hill to Anaconda. If you need water as you are descending there is a plumbed spring just off MT 1 right before the interpretive sign for an old gold strike. You will see a paved road that bears down hill on the right. The spring is a short distance down there. You can leave you bike at the sign and walk down it's that close.

How do you plan to get back from Anaconda?

You're welcome. Interesting back story as to why we did Rock Creek in '11. We were planning to ride Skalkaho from P'burg but the road washed out at the falls before we flew out there and it was unclear when it would open. Plan B was to continue to Drummond and head west from there to Ekstroms Stage Station. However, a few days into the trip we were at Elkhorn Hot Springs. I was wearing a bike-related t-shirt and cap when I was approached by your own Casey Greene, who asked me if we were touring. I told him of our plans, including the plan B if Skalkaho was not open by the time we got there. Casey told me about Rock Creek Road. Sometimes things just fall into place.

I went back out your way last year and did a very similar loop, but this time I was able to ride Skalkaho even though it was officially closed due to a slide. The slide area was not large, and getting through with a bike proved was not a problem. And I walked away from Gem Mountain with 16.25 karats of sapphires as a memento.

Offline administrator

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2015, 11:35:12 am »
That is a great story. Glad you were able to make it around the slide on the pass the next time out.

You're welcome. Interesting back story as to why we did Rock Creek in '11. We were planning to ride Skalkaho from P'burg but the road washed out at the falls before we flew out there and it was unclear when it would open. Plan B was to continue to Drummond and head west from there to Ekstroms Stage Station. However, a few days into the trip we were at Elkhorn Hot Springs. I was wearing a bike-related t-shirt and cap when I was approached by your own Casey Greene, who asked me if we were touring. I told him of our plans, including the plan B if Skalkaho was not open by the time we got there. Casey told me about Rock Creek Road. Sometimes things just fall into place.

I went back out your way last year and did a very similar loop, but this time I was able to ride Skalkaho even though it was officially closed due to a slide. The slide area was not large, and getting through with a bike proved was not a problem. And I walked away from Gem Mountain with 16.25 karats of sapphires as a memento.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2015, 09:43:51 am »
Thanks for the info.  I think we have decided to do a counter clockwise circle from Missoula to Lost Trail pass, then to Anaconda then back to Missoula via Rock Creek.  3 days.  Just don't want to have a mess for the Rock Creek section.

In three days? More power to you. Measured from the Missoula KOA it's about 262 miles to the junction of Rock Creek Rd. and I-90 assuming U.S. 93 to MT 43 through Wisdom towards Wise River then MT 569 to Anaconda, MT 1 to P'burg then Rock Creek Rd.

If you can squeeze in another day or two you might consider Wisdom to Jackson then Big Hole Pass to the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway to Wise River then MT 43 to MT 569 to Anaconda.

Offline Travis Switzer

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #7 on: Today at 11:01:12 am »
This last weekend I rode from Missoula to Rock Creek, up and over Skalkaho Pass into Hamilton, and then back to Missoula.  I rode Rock Creek Rd. on Saturday and it was in good shape. It has been graded recently, so the there are some sections of loose dirt and rocks (maybe 1/2" deep max).  I had 29" x 2.0 tires, and I only needed to slow down for one short bumpy section.  I think it's totally doable on a 28 road tire, but you'll probably want to pack extra tubes and a patch kit just in case.  One important note - the Forest Service tested the wells this year and ALL HAND PUMPS ARE DISABLED.  I could not find water anywhere along the road, and was forced to filter out of the creek.  If you don't plan on spending the night in Rock Creek, you could carry enough water to reach Philipsburg - I personally prefer to carry less water and filter when I need it.  All in all it's a beautiful bike ride, and I think you should go for it!  Also, I know Skalkaho Pass is not part of your planned route, but for any who are wondering, the road is still closed with 40" of snow at the top.  I was able to ride parts of the frozen snow early in the morning, but ultimately had to post hole 11 miles up and over the pass.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND this route until the road is fully open.  Hope this helps and have a great trip!

Offline ejworden10

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #8 on: Today at 01:09:21 pm »
Thanks, put 32mm tires on with some tread so we should be ready to roll!!

Offline Travis Switzer

Re: Missoula to Anaconda via Rock Creek
« Reply #9 on: Today at 01:18:53 pm »
With 32mm tires you'll be set - Enjoy!