Glacier National Park: Many Glacier Loop

This magnificent, 55.5-mile northern loop accesses the moose-filled Waterton Valley backcountry, and finishes with a grand finale along the Highline Trail, a topo line below the Continental Divide.
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This magnificent, 55.5-mile northern loop accesses the moose-filled Waterton Valley backcountry, and finishes with a grand finale along the Highline Trail, a topo line below the Continental Divide.

Start from Many Glacier’s Ptarmigan Tunnel trailhead. Ascend past waterfalls to the tunnel at 7,248-feet. Descend to Elizabeth Lake and pass 50-foot Dawn Mist Falls at mile 11.2. Continue to the wire-assisted crossing of Cosley Lake’s outlet and camp at the lake.

The next day’s 14.5-mile section passes Glenns Lake and enters a glacial runout en route to 6,908-foot Stoney Indian Pass at mile 23.1. Descend 600 feet in .8 mile to Stoney Indian Lake (with camping), then reach a T-junction at mile 26.3. Turn right toward Kootenai Lake, and camp along this grouping of reedy ponds with resident moose.

Head south to pick up the Highline Trail. Snake across mountainsides and under pine canopy to Fifty Mountain Pass at mile 35.7. Camp 1.3 miles later at the Fifty Mountain site.

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 and over Ahern Pass. Take a break at the historic Granite Park Chalet at mile 48.6. Continue up to 7,161-foot Swiftcurrent Pass. Descend through bighorn habitat, and bottom out at Swiftcurrent Creek. Then it’s 3.9 lakeside miles back to Many Glacier.

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

-Mapped by Casey Lyons

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 89.4

Waypoints

Wpt 051

Location: 61.53748, -142.906577

Turnaround

Wpt 050

Location: 61.53748, -142.906577

Crampon up!

Wpt 049

Location: 61.53748, -142.906577

Turn left to glac

Wpt 048

Location: 61.53748, -142.906577

Camp 1

Wpt 047

Location: 61.513084, -142.892696

Rubbly mor x

Wpt 046

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Toilet

Wpt 045

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Go strait to access better gl spot

Wpt 044

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Food lockr

Wpt 043

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Jumbo cr cross confusing

Wpt 042

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Cont lft hard to ree

Wpt 041

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Turn left at jumbo cr

Wpt 040

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Wpt 039

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Lnch

Wpt 038

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

View

Wpt 037

Location: 61.491112, -142.892696

Root glac th