The Judith River runs about 124 miles through the middle of Montana and through the Little Belt Mountains. The Middle Fork of the river is home to a scenic out-and-back trail that our buddy, Anthony of Montana FJ Cruisers, and other members just tackled. He shared his account of the trail with me the other day and I thought the rest of you would love to hear about it. Take it away, Anthony!
"We took nine rigs on our trip, including both stock and modified vehicles. We found that it is definitely a trail that you can do with a stock rig if you're careful (and a good driver!). We started at the base of the trail, which is a huge open area where we were able to gather and camp with 15 people, although the area could easily fit 30 trucks (GPS coordinates 46.8531800, -110.3078850). We hit the trail around 10am the next morning, finding the first part to be rocky but nothing too major. As we started the big incline, we were thanking our lucky stars that the area was totally dry; in mud, it'd have been rough going.
The crazy thing about this trail is the 24 water crossings over 16.5 miles. Even though the river is at a lower point this time of year, we did see a side-by-side get water logged in the first deep crossing. Coming out of this initial crossing, we continued to climb, turn, and worked through a lot of mud and ruts. Three of our guys actually hit a large tree stump that was just tall enough to damage their passenger side doors but not tall enough to easily see when you were right up on it.
The best part of the trail is the amazing scenery. After you conquer the river crossings and get to the top, there's a large turnaround area where we were able to rest and take it all in.
All in all, it took our group about seven hours to do the trail, up and back. We took a good amount of breaks and our large group stopped and gathered a lot. Our crew often jokes that the difference between Jeeps and Toyotas is that Jeeps keep it simple and just go out four-wheeling while Toyotas bring a whole production crew. Ours included wives, girlfriends, dogs, and even two drones (check out our drone footage here and here!). The time to go up and back could probably be cut in half with a smaller group and less stopping.
This trail is likely to be shut down to vehicles in the near future as concerns about the stream's wildlife are moving people to call for the crossings to be closed. So, if you have the opportunity, get to the Judith before it's too late! It's a really beautiful run."
Missed our previous Trail Notes? Read about a run up the Morrison Jeep Trail.
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