Glacier Day Hiking Questions

Chuck the Mauler

Formally known as "kcwins"
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Aug 20, 2014
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Greetings backpackers. Last year I made my first trip to Glacier and did a 73 mile figure 8 loop that started at Chief Mt. Customs, up (then back down) to Slide Lake. Then across the plateau and down to the Belly River. Past Cosley and Glenn Lakes. Up Stoney Indian Pass then back down to Waterton Valley trail. Up to 50 Mountain. Then across the Highline trail to Granite Park. Down to Many Glacier, (this is where the trip ended for everyone except @Joey). Through the ptarmigan tunnel. Down to Elizabeth Lake. Back through the Belly River area and back to the Lee Ridge TH.


This year my son has a job there for the summer. So, it was easy for me to convince my wife that we should "go visit him". She doesn't mind camping and enjoys day hiking. But won't backpack with me in GYE or Glacier because of her fear of brown bears. So we will plan to camp at Swift Current or down at Lake McDonald.


While we are there we hope to do some day hiking. What are some "must do" hikes? What are some of your favorites there? I'm thinking about trying to get a spot at the chalet in Granite Park and hike up to Swift Current pass, but being able to stay for the night would be awesome so we could take our time. I'd also like to do something around Two Medicine.


Thanks in advance for your input.

Side note: I still call the Tetons my home away from home.
 
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Joined
Aug 31, 2015
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I will say this straight away, no matter what you do in the park (even John's Lake Loop hehe) will be amazing. You just might have to change your frame of mind. My favorite day hikes are probably Grinnell Glacier (duh) Hidden Lake with a sidetrip to Reynold's Dragon's tail saddle on the easy climbers trail that is as good as any trail in the park, just steep in one spot with possible snow into mid-August (not super dangerous, to be honest).
In Two Medicine Rockwell Falls is great as well as Upper Two Med. If you want a super bomber day you can do Dawson-Pitimaken (never done it, but want to).
I have a major love of Snyder Lakes even though there are "better" places nearby but the trail is easy (there is always fish lake).
In Swiftcurrent I would do one of the four (one mentioned above): Iceberg Lake, Ptarmigan Tunnel, or Swiftcurrent pass trail to just before it starts heading up (so you get to the back headwall). You can also go to Lee's Ridge (not quite Swiftcurrent but close), that is my favorite view in the park, it just has a high price of admission(you would know after all you've been there).
Getting a spot in the Chalet could be very hard at this time of year, tis a popular time in the park. The Highline is great, and of what I've done on swiftcurrent pass is great.
There is always St Mary stuff, but this is getting unnecessarily long and I could go on all day.
Sorry that I kind of hit you with lots of trails to think about, but the area is just wonderful and there is tons to do there. Heck, there's even mostly off-trail stuff that I hear are absolutely fantastic, but have yet to do (I will, though). I just threw everything I like a lot out at you and wish you good luck on finding one that speaks to you.

Have fun there

Side note: how dare you call the Tetons your home away from home ;)
 

Chuck the Mauler

Formally known as "kcwins"
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
426
Thanks JC. The highlight of my trip there last year was definitely the hike from Fifty Mountain to Granite Park and the view from Swift Current Pass looking down the drainage toward Many.

I'll look in to Lee's Ridge, Grinnell Glacier and Rockwell Falls.

I don't mind big miles...especially without a full pack. My wife would prefer to keep it under 10 per day.
 
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well, lee's ridge is what you did going to slide lake, so 4 miles of trees and forest then bomber views down the belly river 12 miles total. Grinnell is just about 10 miles, and Rockwell is around 10 as well. Grinnell is all up and Rockwell is easy.
 
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Oh yeah, Iceberg lake is 9 miles roundtrip and is quite awesome. I need to get there again because of the infamous (in my family) Glacier Trip of 2011 :facepalm:
 

Joey

walking somewhere
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Apr 1, 2014
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878
Everything out of Many Glacier
Iceberg for sure, and Grinnell Glacier. Pretty much the intro to Glacier's hiking.
Cracker Lake is a sweet one as well.
Do a big day hike and do the Dawson - Pitamakin Loop out of Two Medicine.
The hike up to Two Med Pass from there is fantastic as well.
Avalanche Lake is beautiful. Lots of people, but beautiful.
Piegan Pass gets overlooked, but its an excellent hike from the road over to Many Glacier. You would need a shuttle.
The Gunsight/Sperry route is 20 miles, and can be done in a day. If you can stay at the Sperry Chalet, do it as an overnight route. Definitely hike up to Sperry Glacier if you do go that way. I would do that over Granite Park, since you've been there.
If you go up to the Granite Chalet, do a day hike up to the Swiftcurrent Fire Lookout Tower. Some of the best views in the park.
You could also use the shuttle, and do the high line trail from Logan Pass over to granite Park, and then take the Loop down to your car.

When are you going?
Looks like i'm heading that way shortly.
 

Chuck the Mauler

Formally known as "kcwins"
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
426
Thanks for the reply, SAU. Kim and I fly in to Kalispell 8-19 through 8-25. I've been eyeballing the hike to Granite Park from GTS road via the loop or Logan Pass. Although shorter, it appears to be a much steeper trip from The Loop vs the longer option from Logan Pass?

Iceberg Lake is on our list. While there should we take the 1 1/2 mile trip to Ptarmigan Tunnel?

Our son is working at the St. Mary Lodge. Yesterday he hiked through the Ptarmigan Tunnel down to Cosly Lake. Today he hikes out to his car at Chief Mountain Customs.

FYI: Matt and I are hiking in the Sawtooth Mtns. with @Ben the week after Labor Day if you're interested.

Take care, my friend.
 

Joey

walking somewhere
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
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878
Hike to Granite from Logan Pass, and then down to the Loop. You can use the shuttle the whole way. Take the shuttles up to Logan Pass. Then you can get picked up by the shuttle at the loop trailhead, and take the shuttle system all the way back to St Mary.
Don't hike up the Loop, its let scenic, and far more work to go up.

The Ptarmigan Tunnel is cool. You can get a great view of Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River drainage on the other side. But its a climb up there, and not the same as being at a pass.

My plans are constantly changing. I have a good friend spending the summer with me now, so its opened up trips that are bigger and more challenging. I believe I will be doing my 13 day Thorofare - Washakie trip the first 2 weeks of September. If i'm not, I'll be up in Glacier.

If you want a great (and expensive) restaurant, go to the Cattle Baron in Babb, just outside the park boundary at the turn off to Many Glacier. Really high end steaks there.
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
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As long as things go smooth today and tomorrow, my wife and my 8 week old daughter are going to try and start driving up to Glacier this week. It will be a very chill trip, we've only been to Glacier once, 5 years ago. We hiked Avalanche lake. The road was closed because we went to early. Even though this isn't my ideal trip (like that 13 days you're going out @Joey) Still very excited.
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
1,686
Plans are really loose, because of the little one. As of right now, mostly driving plans, with little short hikes.

Jackson wednesday, drive through Yellowstone thursday, drive up through Tower Junction and go NE to the 90, cut back west and head towards Glacier. From there I think we'll enter the park from the east, spend a couple days there, then... perhaps Coeur d'Alene, some other stuff could go further west. If the baby is liking driving/traveling we'll keep going. We both have a couple weeks before we have to go back to work. Trying to not get our hopes up too high, this whole new baby thing is pretty crazy :)
 
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