Glacier National Park in Montana, USA is an integral component and the largest part of the world’s first International Peace Park with Waterton Lakes National Park representing a smaller, but no less spectacular part in southwest Alberta, Canada. It is where prairies meet mountains. Both connected parks host breathtaking scenery. Click on the titles for a link to the specific journal post.
The hike from Many Glacier Hotel to Cracker Lake is a return distance of 13 miles (21 KM) with about 1,600 ft. (488 m) of gross elevation to Cracker Lake and the long-abandoned Cracker Lake Mine. Cracker Lake is hidden until reaching the final ridge. The vibrant color of the lake will stop you in your tracks. The long access is definitely worth the breathtaking impact of the moment. Siyeh Wall, with the much diminished Siyeh Glacier hanging below the summit, serves as dramatic background to Cracker Lake. There are lots of places to explore at the far end of Cracker Lake.
The Grinnell Glacier hike is a round trip hike of 11.9 miles (19 KM) and 1,585 ft. (483 m) of net elevation. Rolling land and additional effort will place gross elevation near 2,100 ft. (640 m). Vistas are continuous and spectacular within the valley along the lower reaches of Grinnell Point and Mount Grinnell. Near trail’s end, there is a steep climb over an ancient lateral moraine to arrive at the outlook. This is a must-do hike in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park.
Near the far end of Trail of the Cedars, the trail to Avalanche Lake trail branches off to the right. It is a touristy, well-travelled, wide trail of 5 miles (8 KM) round trip over rolling land with easy, estimated gross elevation of 1,000 ft. (304 M). The trail travels south-east along Avalanche Creek through incredible, mature forest past huge, glacier-deposited boulders and moss draperies.
The moderate day hike from Swiftcurrent Inn to Ptarmigan Tunnel is a round trip distance of 10 miles (16 KM) with an elevation gain of 2,480 ft. (756 m) to a maximum elevation of 7,200 ft. (2,195 m). The views from Ptarmigan Wall are breathtaking from the switchbacks above Ptarmigan Lake. The 250 ft. Ptarmigan Tunnel was blasted through the north-east end of the wall, just below the ridge summit to provide horse traffic access from Many Glacier to Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River Valley. The trail continues several miles through to, and beyond, the Canadian border.
The round trip hike to Iceberg Lake is 9.5 miles (15.2 KM) with gross elevation of about 1,250 ft. (381 m). The hike progresses alternatively through forested areas and open spaces offering spectacular vistas. The first view of Iceberg Lake is spectacular. Glacial flour makes the color of the water milky-blue. Iceberg Lake, at 6,100 ft. (1,860 m), is tucked away in a north-east facing cirque and receives little sunlight throughout the year. It remains frozen over until late spring and early in the season the lake is often banked with snow and congested with floating ice including icebergs from calving glaciers.
The hike from Many Glacier Hotel passes the south shore of Swiftcurrent Lake, tiny Stump Lake and Lake Josephine. Scenery is stunning and terrain is lush and varied with the final push to Grinnell Falls on raised platform over running water. The constant proximity to water is embellished by views of mountains around and glaciers above at the end of Grinnell Valley. The reward is relaxing emerald water and a waterfall at the end of Lower Grinnell Lake. There are many trail options.
Morning Eagle Falls (aka Feather Plume Falls) can be accessed from Grinnell Valley or more directly on the Piegan Pass Trail. The worthy hiking goals include creeks of crystal water flowing over brightly colored stone, lush forest surrounded by towering mountains and a magnificent waterfall with trail options to continue over the Continental Divide. Heavy horse traffic can compromise the trail condition in wet weather.
The round trip hike to the end of Swiftcurrent Valley is 7 miles (11.2 KM) with elevation of 275 ft. (84 m). Extending the hike to Swiftcurrent Pass changes the profile to 13.4 miles (21.6 KM) and 2,200 ft. (670 m) of elevation. The scenery is beautiful with long vistas over fascinating terrain, particularly as elevation is gained. There are a wide variety of features along this trail. It is a must do hike, and a truly memorable experience beginning at Swiftcurrent Inn in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park.
The Highline Trail originates at 6,646 ft. (2,025 m) Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road. The trail tracks the steep wall just below the summits of the Continental Divide. The Garden Wall is lush. The western side of the Continental Divide receives far more precipitation and plants are abundant on the steep walls above and below the trail. Waterfalls occur often and traverse the trail. The wow factor is high. Wildlife is abundant. This is an easy hike and one of the most popular in Glacier National Park.
The moderately strenuous hike to Scenic Point begins near Two Medicine Lake and is 7.2 miles (11.6 KM) return with a net elevation gain of 2,242 ft. (701 m). The good trail switchbacks up the flank of Mount Henry with increasingly spectacular views of Appistoki Mountain and Valley as well as Rising Wolf Mountain and Two Medicine Lakes. From Scenic Point, on a clear day, the view extends over 100 miles (160 KM) to the Sweetgrass Hills.
A Falcon Guide titled, ‘Hiking Glacier and Waterton National Park’ by Erik Molvar is an excellent reference for Glacier National Park in Montana.
For any trail you choose to hike, please, carry a map, consult and carry a good hiking guide, and obtain current trail conditions and forecasted weather from the Visitor Centre. Tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be there. On completion, let them know you have completed your day hike to avoid potentially expensive search parties leaving to look for you.
Stay safe. Carry layers and pack everything you may need to enjoy a great day.
Adventuring is a means to express one’s inner self. Anonymous
From Summit Stones and Adventure Musings by DSD