April 3, 2021 - Crown Butte
In the early spring it is sometimes difficult to find a good warm-up hike that doesn’t involve snow. Yet, this is where the prairie landscape comes through for us. For years I wanted to explore Crown Butte outside of Simms, but I have often missed my window of opportunity as it is good rattlesnake habitat, and for those who know me, I would much rather deal with a grizzly bear than a rattlesnake. The other consideration with regards to accessing Crown Butte is it needs to be dry weather. The road leading to the trail head along a private ranch and through the Nature Conservancy property is impassable when wet. This isn't a situation to take lightly so we needed to time it correctly.
A small group of us decide to take advantage of a nice day to explore this unique geological feature that rises above the prairie landscape. Crown Butte is one of four laccoliths in the area formed by volcanic activity that created these crazy-looking vertically stacking, sedimentary rock layers. Viewing it from a distance, there’s no question why it’s called “Crown” Butte.
After initially missing the Cascade-Simms Road (I went too far), we were back on track and found our way to the trailhead. From there, it was a matter of following the trail up to a narrow, but easily maneuverable, break in the imposing rock wall to make our way to the top. While the area looks jagged and rugged from the bottom, once beyond the rock face, it’s rolling hills and coulees. Not surprisingly, the views are phenomenal. The Rocky Mountain Front stretched before us on one side, and it was interesting to easily see the enormous grain silos of Fairfield in the other direction. This was one of those early spring outings that makes you feel good to stretch your legs… and not a snake in sight.