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Hikes in Glacier National Park

To view most of Glacier Park, you have to leave the roads and hit the trails. There are countless hikes throughout the park. Here are a few of the more popular ones.

Avalanche Lake
This was one of John Muir’s favorites. The hike starts a few miles east of Lake McDonald on Going-to-the-Sun Road at the mouth of Avalanche Creek. The early part of the trail is a boardwalk which travels through cool, mossy, old-growth cedars. This part is known as the Trail of the Cedars. Once you cross the footbridge over Avalanche Gorge and its foaming whitewater, you break into the magnificent Avalanche Lake cirque. Here you are surrounded by jagged alpine peaks. The hike is handicapped accessible at the beginning. The rest of the hike is vigorous, but not exhausting. The entire hike offers breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife viewing opportunities.

The Highline Trail
This trail begins at Logan Pass. Parking is limited at the trailhead, so you will want to get an early start. Begin by heading due north to the Granite Park Chalet. You will be hiking along the Garden Wall. Once you reach the Chalet your best option is to return by the same route. You can pick up the Loop Trail here, but the scenery isn’t as good, and your more likely to have a grizzly invade your personal space—or the other way around. The best part of this hike is that it is a fairly level grade. The scenery along here is spectacular. Keep your eyes open for mountain goats, and an occasional grizzly. Plan a full day for this hike.

Dawson-Pitamakan Loop
This 18.8 mile rugged hike in the Two Medicine Area has a difficulty rating of 4 on a scale of 5. The hike is at best an all day event. The highlight is a traverse around Rising Wolf Mountain (elev. 9,513) offering excellent views of the Park’s interior. Start at Two Medicine Campground up Dry Fork Creek, past Oldman Lake to Pitamakan Pass. From there hike south to Dawson Pass, through Bighorn Basin and return to Two Medicine Lake. Plan B? Catch the Two Medicine boat for the last few miles back.

Ptarmigan Tunnel
Certainly among the most popular hikes is the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail. Find the trailhead at Swiftcurrent and climb about 4 miles to Ptarmigan Tunnel. This fine example of backcountry engineering is a path blasted right through the mountain by park trail crews. On the other side of the tunnel you will be treated to great views of the Belly River drainage. Keep your eyes open for grizzlies. This is one of the best areas in the park to see them.

Triple Divide Pass Trail
This 14 plus mile trail is rated a 3 on a scale of 5 for difficulty. Most of this hike is in areas of the park that are well off the beaten path. The hike begins at the Cutbank Creek Campground where it follows the north fork of Cutbank Creek before it starts the assent to Triple Divide Peak. At the top, you are standing at the source of three major watersheds: the Pacific Ocean, Hudson’s Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Red Eagle Trail
This is a fairly easy 15 mile hike along an old buffalo hunters’ route to Red Eagle Lake behind the St. Mary Mountains. The trailhead begins at the St. Mary Ranger Station.

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Information provided by the National Park Service

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