At 8.3 miles, the trail begins climbing steeply. You’ll pass several cattle tanks and remnants of ranching in the area as you climb. Use caution around 10.3 miles where the trail sharply turns. Around 12.3 miles you’ll enter the forest after a tight switchback. As the trail levels off at 13.5 miles, you’ll pass some nice spots for camping. A scenic overlook off to the right at 14.0 miles gives you an impressive view of the surrounding area. After 14.7 miles, the trail reaches a high point and begins working its way downhill. Use caution over the next several miles as the trail makes many tight turns. At the 18.4 mile mark, the trail begins its steepest descent. Numerous switchbacks make it slow and go for the next two miles as the trail drops over 1100 feet. This is a scenic part of the trail but requires the driver to focus. At 20.5 miles after the switchbacks, there is a small cabin off to the left just down the trail. It makes for an interesting side trip.
The road continues to slowly drop as other smaller trails join the main trail at 21.3 miles. The road again crosses a series of washes that are normally dry and passes the Arizona trail at 22.8 miles. The trail follows a long a creek, past an old corral and past Forest Road 1011 (alternative way back to the staging area through some old mines) at 25.7 miles. The trail ends at 29.0 miles at Hewitt Station Road. Vehicles can turn left and hop onto US-60 while OHV’s can turn right and follow Hewitt Station Road 5 miles back to the start of the trail. There is staging at the end of the trail and the trail can be done in either direction, but it is probably easier going down the switchbacks rather then up them. Navigating switchbacks can be dangerous and require drivers to watch the road carefully. No matter what type of vehicle you drive, whether it is the newest SUV on the market or an older model with a TitleMax title loan, remember to exercise caution when driving up or down switchbacks.
Summary/Trail Ratings: Montana Mountain trail is 29 miles from start to finish. It will take about 2-4 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. Along the way, there are numerous spots to hike into the Superstition Wilderness Area as well as camp. The trail is rated a ‘3’. The trail remains fairly wide and graded the whole way but does have some steep and rutted sections. Most SUV’s with good clearance will make it. The trail does receive snow so use caution on the steep sections if you attempt this trail after a recent snow (not advised).
On this trail, take a scenic ride near the pristine Superstition Wilderness. Along the way, you’ll pass through scenic canyons and normally dry washes before climbing into the Tonto National Forest.
Page last updated: 7/1/2015
**Picture gallery courtesy of Experience-AZ.com
Last Known Status: Open
Trail Type: Loop / 1-way (street legal)
Length: 29 miles total
Approx. time: 2-4 hours
Current Info: Tonto N.F./Mesa R.D. (480) 610-3300
Elevation: 2129' - 5461'
Nearest City: Superior
Best Time: Spring-Fall
How to get there: From the I-10/I-17 interchange in central Phoenix, head south on I-17 for 6 miles. Merge onto I-10 and follow it east for 5 miles. Keep right and follow the signs for Mesa/Globe as you merge onto US-60 east. Follow US-60 for 43 miles to Queen Valley Road. Turn left and follow it for 2 miles. Stay to the right onto Hewitt Station Road. Follow the road for 3.1 miles. The trail begins to the left through a dry wash at 33°18'3.87"N 111°14'41.15"W. Staging is in the wash if dry or along Hewitt Station Road.
The trail: Montana Mountain Trail leaves Hewitt Station Road and crosses a wide and normally dry wash. Stay right after half a mile as the wide trail slowly climbs through the desert. After 2.6 miles, the trail drops into a usually dry creek. The trail then parallels the creek as you head into a canyon. The trail crosses the creek several times after 3.4 miles. Depending on recent rain, this section may have water on the trail and may be impassable, but most of the year it’s dry. Off to the left at 3.9 miles is a natural rock just off trail. Off to the right at 4.1 miles is a small stone cabin up on the hill. The trail continues to wind through the canyon crossing the dry creek bed often. Conditions may vary in the wash.
Photo by Nicholas Hartmann