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Backpacker Magazine – January/February 2010

Readers' Choice Mountain West: Gunsight Pass, Glacier NP

See the park's famed glaciers from a high mountain pass.

by: Midwest Reader Map Team

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Gunsigth Pass, Glacier NP (Chuck Haney)
Gunsigth Pass, Glacier NP (Chuck Haney)


See which other trips made it into our annual awards.
Day two Climb to 7,050-foot Lincoln Pass before descending into Glacier Basin; continue to Sperry Chalet at mile two. Grab a bowl of soup at this mountain refuge ($3, before setting out on the spur trail (.2 mile beyond the dining hall) to the Sperry Glacier Overlook. You’ll gain 1,600 feet over 2.5 miles, climbing through rocky cirques and up a narrow stone staircase to Comeau Pass. See the gleaming Sperry Glacier and the milky, opaline lakes it feeds far below. Then retrace your steps and rejoin Gunsight Pass Trail to descend along clear and cold Sprague Creek to Lake McDonald—and complete a 14-mile day.

Driving From West Glacier, drive 22 miles east on Going-to-the-Sun Rd. to Jackson Overlook. At Lake McDonald Lodge, catch an Orange or Green shuttle, then transfer to the Red Bus at Logan Pass to return to Jackson.

Permit Required ($30, 406-888-5819,

Map and Guide Trails Illustrated Glacier National Park ($10,; Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, by Erik Molvar ($26,

Contact (406) 888-7800, nps .gov/glac

Trip ID 39440
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Reader Rating: -


Aug 14, 2011

We could argue about the best hike in Glacier until the cows come home or the grizzles hibernate. The simple fact is there are so many spectacular hikes in Glacier that it's impossible to pick the best. There simply are no bad hikes in Glacier. It's truly a magic place.

Jon Jeffress
Feb 09, 2010

I've been to Glacier many times, and in my humble opinion, the best hike in the best park in the world is many glacier --> elizabeth lake --> glenn lake --> stoney indian --> 50 mountain --> out (or stop at the chalet if you have the extra day). I've hiked all over the US, and it just does not get any more beautiful and uniquely "glacier" than stoney indian and 50 mountain, particularly stoney. Backpacker rated this loop, which I've heard called "the Northern Loop," the best Alpine Hike in a recent edition, but other than that you don't hear much about it. What tells you everything is that this loop books up within just a few days of the April reservation deadline. So get your request in there early and enjoy!

Feb 04, 2010

I agree that this hike has great views, but Glacier has better hikes than this one. Also, as with most of the trails in Glacier, the actual mileage is up for debate. I've been on this trail, and done this hike many times, and I put it somewhere between 19-21 miles if you don't stop off at Florence falls or Lake Ellen Wilson. Lastly, that picture is of Mt. Jackson, Gunsight pass is not visible.

Feb 04, 2010

Another good one is the Old Man Lake/Pittamaken Pass loop in the Southeast corner of Glacier National Park. If I recall correctly it is a roughly 20 mile loop that traverses forest, alpine meadow and high mountain passes. Tremendous views and an incredible camp spot next to the lake. There is a lot of Grizzly activity in that area so make noise.


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