Scenic Point commands the demarcation line between majestic mountains and prairie.
Appistoki Falls occupies the end of a short spur off the Mount Henry Trail in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. From the viewpoint for Appistoki Falls, it is a brief jaunt back to the main trail.
There is a recollection of the trail-head sign listing Scenic Point at about 3 miles (4.8 KM) distance. It seems a waste to discard the recently achieved 260 ft (79 m) of elevation when the day still has time and potential. The backpack is standard equipped to handle a wide variety of situations and there is a modest supply of water.
Unfortunately the hiking guide-book remains in the car so elevation gain required to achieve Scenic Point is unknown. At the end of the hike, reference to the guide lists the Scenic Point hike at a reasonable 7¼ miles (11.6 KM) return with a net elevation gain of 2,242 ft. (701 m). If this had been known, it is likely this amazing hike would not have been tackled on a day dedicated to rest and relaxation. Fortunately, ignorance is occasionally bliss.
The trail-head is near 5,200 feet (1,585 m) of elevation. Gain in elevation is aggressive on excellent trail over long switchbacks up the steep side of Mount Henry. Within the first few minutes the hike passes the top of Appistoki Falls.
Terrain is arid and rocky with clustered sculptures of flagged (bent in the direction of prevailing wind) and bleached tree skeletons created by powerful winds and deep snow cover for a significant portion of each year. Mats of juniper hug the steep slope at the beginning. Today there is an intermittent, gusty breeze and predominantly clear skies with cloud cover gradually building on a relatively normal, superb day in the mountains.
Vistas are amazing and just keep getting better as elevation is relentlessly gained on long switchbacks up the steep face of Mount Henry towards Scenic Point. Appistoki Peak is directly across the valley from me. The hike is proceeding back and forth above Appistoki Valley towards a huge bowl of incredible colors and beauty.
Two Medicine Lake gets smaller and the view opens up to include Pray Lake at the east end of Two Medicine Lake and even a portion of smaller Upper Two Medicine Lake above the west end of Two Medicine Lake. Massive Rising Wolf Mountain, with its distinctive red crown, dominates the view over the lakes. Interestingly enough, the vehicle is visible in the parking area throughout most of the ascent. The hike proceeds over talus slopes and encroaches on the cairns at the pass for the first view of Scenic Point, which is inspiring even though the objective remains quite a distance away.
Mercifully, the ascent elevation gain is eased substantially by a flat stretch on the final approach with a small hill climb at the end.
The view from Scenic Point is about amazing scenery and overwhelming visible distance. In spite of the altitude and harsh environment, the ground is ablaze with richly colored, ground-hugging, alpine vegetation. Lichens are plentiful and range in color from orange to black. The red rock outcropping has sheer drops to the valley.
During this spectacular hike, there is opportunity taken to capture three short videos of the incredible surrounding terrain.
Video # 1 - Taken from Scenic Point of surrounding, mountains, lakes and prairie.
Prairie stretches across the high plains to the Sweetgrass Hills. The horizon is estimated to be 200 miles (320 KM) away and offers a minor appreciation for the curve of the earth. Below, at the bottom of steep cliffs, and 2,500 ft. (762 m) of air, is an awesome view of Lower Two Medicine Lake.
The Mount Henry Trail continues on to East Glacier but after a brief rest the return hike will proceed via the same route taken. Scenic Point is a noble and worthwhile achievement but the real show is the hike ascent and descent between the pass and the trail-head.
The hike is completed shortly after 5 PM and followed by the drive north on Mountain Road 49 which is another thriller. The narrow, paved, twisting, roller coaster road has unprotected steep cliffs on one side and sheer walls of precarious, gravity-defying, shattered rock on the other. There is no place to pull over and attempting to take in the ever-changing view while driving is likely the riskiest adventure of the day.