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Backpacker Magazine – June 2011

National Parks: Glacier

Rule #1 when planning a hike through this iconic park: Let your ambition match the scenery.

by: Casey Lyons

The Highline Trail (Josh Miller)
Photo by Joshmiller_GlacierNPhighlinetrail_-7-Edit_445x260
The Highline Trail (Josh Miller)
Mountain Goats Above Treeline (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Mountain Goats Above Treeline (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Along The Highline Trail (Bret Edge)
Along The Highline Trail (Bret Edge)
Dawn Mist Falls (Michael Wegryn)
Dawn Mist Falls (Michael Wegryn)
Cosley Ridge (Michael Wegryn)
Cosley Ridge (Michael Wegryn)
Descent From Swifcurrent Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Descent From Swifcurrent Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Mt. Morgan And Oldman Lake (WildWestPhotos.com)
Mt. Morgan And Oldman Lake (WildWestPhotos.com)
Pitamakan Pass (Michael Wegryn)
Pitamakan Pass (Michael Wegryn)



TRIP PLANNER
Start from Many Glacier’s Ptarmigan Tunnel trailhead (1). Ascend past waterfalls to the tunnel (2) at 7,248-feet. Descend to Elizabeth Lake (3) and pass 50-foot Dawn Mist Falls (4) at mile 11.2. Continue to the wire-assisted crossing of Cosley Lake’s outlet and camp at the lake (5). The next day’s 14.5-mile section passes Glenns Lake and enters a glacial run-out en route to 6,908-foot Stoney Indian Pass (6) at mile 23.1. Descend 600 feet in .8 mile to Stoney Indian Lake (with camping), then reach a T-junction (7) at mile 26.3. Turn right toward Kootenai Lake (8), and camp along this grouping of reedy ponds with resident moose. Head south to pick up the Highline Trail (9). Snake across mountainsides and under pine canopy to Fifty Mountain Pass (10) at mile 35.7. Camp 1.3 miles later at the Fifty Mountain site (11). The next day starts with .3 mile across tundra and climbs to 7,422 feet, just below the Continental Divide. Stay high, enjoying big views of the Livingston Range as you contour past Cattle Queen Creek (12) and over Ahern Pass. Take a break at the historic Granite Park Chalet at mile 48.6 (13). Continue up to 7,161-foot Swiftcurrent Pass (14). Descend through bighorn habitat, and bottom out at Swiftcurrent Creek (15). Then it’s 3.9 lakeside miles back to Many Glacier.

The way The Apgar West Entrance is off US 2, 160 miles from Missoula.

Map Trails Illustrated Glacier/Waterton Lakes ($12, natgeomaps.com)

Permit $5/person per night; $30/trip for reservations

Season Ptarmigan Tunnel is typically open from mid-July through September. Late August is ideal.

Contact (406) 888-7857; nps.gov/glac

Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/manyglacier
 



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