Glacier National Park: Ptarmigan Tunnel

This 11-mile out-and-back weaves among pines, crosses over a waterfall, then passes through a rock tunnel above two alpine lakes.
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This 11-mile out-and-back weaves among pines, crosses over a waterfall, then passes through a rock tunnel above two alpine lakes.

PERMIT: Overnight camping in Glacier National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Glacier National Park, (406) 888-7800; nps.gov/glac/.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.9

Waypoints

PTT001

Location: 48.7995300292969, -113.679298400879

From main parking area, follow signs to Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead (behind Swiftcurrent Motor Inn); head N on dirt trail

PTT002

Location: 48.8026008605957, -113.679901123047

Stay straight @ 3-way

PTT003

Location: 48.8058090209961, -113.685997009277

Start mellow NW traverse, skirting edge of pine/spruce forest. Tip: Yell "Hey Yogi!" every so often; this is grizzly country

PTT004

Location: 48.8117599487305, -113.702598571777

Trail traverses the bare SW slopes of Mt. Henkel. In 1 mi., cross over Ptarmigan Falls on foot bridge, then snap photos of whitewater pouring over vertical rock ledges

PTT005

Location: 48.8222503662109, -113.712898254395

Bear R @ Y; head NNW toward Ptarmigan Lake. Side trip: Add a scenic 4 mi. to Iceberg Lake. (Read more at backpacker.com/hikes)

PTT006

Location: 48.8257217407227, -113.716003417969

Follow Ptarmigan Creek through open pine forest into a U-shaped valley

PTT007

Location: 48.8361129760742, -113.715377807617

Continue heading N between the gentle slopes of Crowfeet Mtn. to the R and Ptarmigan Wall to L

PTT008

Location: 48.842601776123, -113.711898803711

Walk around W edge of Ptarmigan Lake, a tranquil pool surrounded by a rock amphitheater. In .5 mi., start steady ascent of open slopes on long switchbacks

PTT009

Location: 48.8496017456055, -113.707801818848

Ptarmigan Tunnel: Walk through narrow rock corridor; breathtaking views of Belly River Valley and Elizabeth Lake await on the other side; retrace steps