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Backpacker Magazine – April 2006

Adventure Guide: Glacier National Park

Explore six new routes through the most rugged, scenic, and wildife-rich mountains in the Lower 48.

by: Steve Howe, BACKPACKER Rocky Mountain Editor


3 Big Dayhikes

Get maximum Glacier exposure--fast.

Mt. Siyeh Climb the Lower 48's highest escarpment

At 10,014 feet, this peak is one of the park's highest, but it's a moderate climb by Glacier standards: only 4.23 miles with 4,200 feet of elevation gain, along with routefinding challenges and a bit of Class III scrambling. The views are worth it, with grand panoramas of the Garden Wall, Upper Grinnell Lake, and the pyramidal summits of Logan Pass. The scene beneath your toes is even more memorable: Siyeh's 4,200-foot north face is the tallest vertical cliff in the Lower 48. Bring a helmet and a 30-foot rope for hauling packs. Start from Siyeh Bend, 2.8 miles east of Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Follow signs for Siyeh Pass until just beyond a pond at mile 2.61. Then head north through open forest on a multiuse trail and climb the farthest right streambed gully (12U 0305267E 5399659N) up the eastern flank of Siyeh's south face. Use GPS to find the key gully (12U 0305242E 5400027N) for scrambling back down through the cliff bands.

Logan Pass to Sperry via Floral Park See it all on the park's premier dayhike

Take all the gorgeous photos you've ever seen of Glacier, merge them, and that might do justice to this 19.5-mile cross-country trip. Begin on the Logan Pass boardwalk, strolling 3 miles to Hidden Lake's outlet. Ford the stream, then hug the lake's west shore to its southwest end. A game trail angles up through scree to a saddle north of Floral Park. Once there, stay southeast until easier terrain lets you drop to Mary Baker Lake and Floral Park. Continue south into the Sperry Glacier Basin and ascend gradually along the glacier's foot; aim for Comeau Pass between Mts. Edwards and Gunsight. There you'll find tiny Gem Lake, then a stairstep trail that descends 2.5 miles to Sperry Chalet and 6 more miles to Lake McDonald Lodge on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Grinnell Glacier/Highline Loop Link two renowned trails in bear country

On this 14.2-mile epic, you'll climb past lakes, waterfalls, and the park's biggest glacier to the Garden Wall, then descend through the best wildlife habitat in Glacier. You'll need an ice axe, helmet, and possibly crampons, since you connect the Grinnell Glacier and Highline Trails via a snow gully. The best time is June, when solid snow fills the gully. Going this direction lets you see cornice conditions before committing. From Many Glacier picnic area, hike 5.5 miles to Upper Grinnell Lake and its namesake glacier. Round the lake's northern end and climb the snow gully to the saddle atop the Garden Wall. There you'll hit the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail and descend steeply .8 mile to the Highline Trail. Turn southeast and traverse 7 relatively flat miles through excellent bighorn and mountain-goat habitat to the parking lot at Logan Pass. You'll want two cars and an early start for the shuttle.




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Chez
Nov 19, 2012

Glacier sucks, don't bother coming. These hikes are such a disappointment, make sure to be prepared to walk around in the rain while fat tourists take your picture from the Disney-like train that circumnavigates this over-hyped park. Do yourself a favor and visit North Dakota instead, much more scenic.

Chez
Nov 19, 2012

Glacier sucks, don't bother coming. These hikes are such a disappointment, make sure to be prepared to walk around in the rain while fat tourists take your picture from the Disney-like train that circumnavigates this over-hyped park. Do yourself a favor and visit North Dakota instead, much more scenic.

Ellen
May 25, 2008

This is a great place to hike-no altitude issues, wildlifr, wildflowers, plenty of water. ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL

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