Weekend Wheeling in Billings, Montana
If pavement's your thing and getting the heart rate up is your goal, this route is for you. The 45-mile loop crosses through the Indian Reservation where traffic is light. Pedal with caution on the road's narrow shoulders.
To start from Billings, take South Billings Boulevard south out of town. This becomes Blue Creek Road and rolling hills, but no really heart-wrenching climbs for the first 8 miles. You'll pass through open prairie and some farm country but don't expect many shade trees along the route. Continue on this road for 20 to 25 miles.
Turn left (north) on Pryor Creek Road and follow the creek drainage with its cottonwoods and riparian habitat. At this point you are on the Crow Indian Reservation. The road narrows, but traffic continues to be light.
When you come to the Old Harden Road, turn left. This is an old highway with narrow shoulders but, again, light traffic. Enjoy the first three miles of rolling terrain before tackling the climb up Old Harden Hill. A triple chain ring comes in handy at this point. The final six miles into town are mostly downhill.
The Crow Tribe, known to other Indian tribes as the Absarokee or "Children of the Large-beaked Bird," was formerly of northeastern origin. As the United States expanded, the tribe was forced westward and eventually ended up in Montana on lands surrounding the Little Big Horn battlefield.
The Crow Indian Reservation covers about 37,000 square miles of rolling prairie and rugged foothills drained by the Bighorn River. About 7,000 tribal members live in the area, with a majority residing on the reservation.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication