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Ascent of Stark Mountain on 2014-09-14

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Sunday, September 14, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Stark Mountain
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:7352 ft / 2240 m

Ascent Trip Report

From I-90 I took exit 61 (Tarkio), which is 61 miles E of ID or 40 miles W of Missoula. Zero your odometer at the interchange and head ENE. At 0.2 mile the road turns L and heads N. At mile 0.7 the road turns slightly L to detour around the TMR Ranch. At mile 1.1 I turned R on Nemote Crk Rd. At 2.2 miles I passed the War Horse Ranch entrance on the R and the pavement ended. The road condition was well-graded gravel, good for any street-legal vehicle. For the next few miles, the road hugged the L side of a valley with steep sides and the bottom was flat grass and pastureland. At 3.4 miles I stayed straight where side roads went into private property on both sides. At 4.3 miles I stayed straight where a major side road went R. At 5.7 miles I went L at a fork, following a FS sign to Stark Mtn LO. At 6.6 miles I went R at a fork where a FS sign said 8 miles to Stark Mtn Lookout. At this point the road gradually becomes narrower and rougher but still OK for most passenger cars. At 7.8 miles the main road makes a sharp L switchback and begins climbing, following a Stark LO FS sign, where a side road goes straight ahead. Additional switchbacks follow at 8.7 miles (R), 9.8 miles (L), and 10.5 miles (R). At 11.1 miles is an overgrown side road on the L where I stayed on the main road, following a damaged wood FS sign to Stark LO. More switchbacks follow at 11.6 miles (L), 11.9 miles (R), 12.7 miles (L), and 13.2 miles (R). At 13.5 miles is a locked gate with plenty of room to turn around. I parked here. The road is narrow and rough but most passenger cars should still make it here OK. Elevation is ~5880'.

I hiked the road beyond the gate. It's a simple and straightforward hike on the remaining road to the top. The trip takes about an hour. A trail sign identifies the Ninemile Divide Trail at point 6564. A few minutes after gaining the ridge crest at point 6810, the summit of Stark Mtn and its lookout tower become visible for the first time. Just before the summit, the road splits; you can go either way, as you're seeing the two sides of the summit teardrop turnaround loop. The windows of the tower cab are boarded up. The stairway headed up the tower is climbable but access to the deck around the outside of the cab is blocked by a locked trap door. A brand new portable outhouse, in good condition for its intended purpose, sits just N of the tower.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1472 ft / 448 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:FR454
    Trailhead:FR 454  5880 ft / 1792 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:1 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:45 Minutes



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