“A very strenuous run to the Leigh Monument, offering some spectacular canyon views!”
— Jared Sostrom
Not recommended to travel during snow season as Forest Road #434
is not maintained in the winter. Recommend from June to September.
This is the only way (except for trad rock climbing) to see the Leigh Monument
up close. The trail follows old Forest Service roads, two tracks, and free-style trails to the monument, and overlooks Tensleep Canyon from a fantastic viewpoint! This trail has over 2,000' of elevation change from start to finish, so it will be quite the run!
Need to Know
At 1.5 miles from the monument, the trail disappears and becomes very steep. Bring PLENTY of water and a good supply of energy snacks. You must back-track, there is no other safe way out.
From US Hwy 16, turn onto Road 429 (dirt). Continue on to Road 434. Drive until you reach two locked gates, this is where the run starts (take the trail going uphill). The entire route is on Forest Service land, and is leased for cattle grazing, so expect to share the trail with some cattle! For the first 5.3 miles you'll following Forest Road #434
; the first few miles are old Forest Service / logging roads and the middle few miles are doubletrack road across the open meadows.
However, once Forest Road #434
, the last 1-1.5 miles are very steep with no established trail. You'll be descending off a few ridges; this is where most of the elevation change occurs. The south side of the ridge is less steep, but is still treacherous. The end of the route is the Leigh Monument
. This was erected by local ranchers in memory of Gilbert Leigh who fell from the canyon top and died in the 1880's. (A turnout on Hwy 16 gives some more details of the monument.) The views of Tensleep Canyon from this point are the best I've ever seen! To the northeast, you can see the highway comingdown the canyon. To the southwest, you'll see the fish hatchery and a campground.
Keep in mind, this run is 7 miles one-way. There is no other way out, so a total backtrack is necessary. You must ascend the steep ridges you came down.
Make sure to bring plenty of snacks/lunch. I cannot emphasize enough to bring lots of water! You'll spend most of the day in the high elevation sun. There are no facilities and no other way out. Bring water!
Flora & Fauna
Some animals you may see are cattle, blue grouse, whitetail deer, and various western birds.
Some plants you'll see are sagebrush, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, prairie grass, etc.
History & Background
The monument is to Gilbert Leigh, who fell and died while sheep hunting on September 14, 1884. The memorial was set up by the local ranchers.