Weekend Wheeling in Billings, Montana
This technical 22.5-mile, one-way shuttle ride is not for the faint of heart. It requires excellent bike handling skills.
It passes through the Pryor Mountains and, although the mountains aren't federally designated as wilderness, it is well off the beaten path. If something goes wrong on this ride, help will be a long time comingif at all. The shuttle portion of the ride alone requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle and about an hour and a half of driving time.
Take plenty of water and extra bike tubes. Some type of water filter or purification method can be used to get water in a pinch. If your bike breaks down, you must be your own mechanic or be prepared to hike out. Veit also suggests taking a cell phone in case of an emergency. "A GPS unit could come in handy, too," he says. "The important thing to remember is to go prepared for self-rescue."
To get to the start, head south from Billings on Highway 212/310 to Rockvale and take the left fork onto Highway 310. Continue south another 64 miles, crossing into Wyoming and to the small town of Cowley. In Cowley, turn north on the main street (which is Highway 310) and continue another 12.6 miles. Turn left on the gravel County Road 16 and follow the signs a few miles to the fish farm. Park your pickup vehicle in the public parking area just outside the fish farm.
Retrace the route with the four-wheel-drive vehicle (with riders and bikes) to Crooked Creek Road. Follow this road for 30 miles as it climbs to the top of Dry Head Vista, where the route begins. Dry Head Vista offers a sweeping view into the Bighorn Basin. According to Veit, "You can see Chicago from there. The landscape is amazing."
Enjoy the view before you start pedaling. Once you're moving, the technical trail makes sightseeing nearly impossible. The trail follows both double-track and single-track as it winds its way to the basin below.
Stop periodically to enjoy the wildness of this country. If you're lucky you'll see wild horses that roam the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Ice caves can be found adjacent to the trail.
This 22.5-mile trail isn't all downhill. There are some good climbs. Veit describes it as "a full-on mountain bike experience for the advanced cyclist."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication