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Secret Hikes: Glacier National Park

Score wildlife sightings daily, choice views hourly--and at least one juicy burger--on this weeklong circuit.
june 2010 secret zion 445x260Lake Ellen Wilson, Glacier (Mike Lanza)

“The snarls seized our full attention,” says our trail scout, who spotted a grizzly sow and her two cubs below 7,050-foot Lincoln Pass. “We stopped and watched them play and forage for two hours.” So it goes on this 92-mile trip through Glacier’s remote backcountry and best wildlife habitat. Don’t have time for the whole thing? We’ve planned the route so it can be downsized to weeklong or weekend chunks. Doing it all? By utilizing the park’s free shuttle, you can reduce pack weight by resupplying after 65 miles (and grab a cheeseburger mid-trip). The first leg: a 65-mile circuit north of Going-to-the-Sun Road, from Siyeh Bend to Logan Pass via Ptarmigan Tunnel, Stoney Indian Pass, and Fifty Mountain. Tip: On day one, hike 13 miles to the campground at Many Glacier (six sites are reserved for backcountry-permit holders), and grab dinner and brews at the restaurant across the street (further decreasing pack weight). At Logan Pass, resupply and hop on the shuttle to start a 27-mile route from Jackson Glacier Overlook to Lake McDonald Lodge via Gunsight Pass. Camp at Lake Ellen Wilson, set in a bowl of thousand-foot cliffs ribboned with waterfalls, and make the seven-mile detour to Sperry Glacier, traversing a moonscape flecked with tiny tarns. Cross Lincoln Pass to finish.

›› Magic Moment You emerge onto the tundra of the remote Fifty Mountain area, on day four, to boulder-hop through alpine daisies.

›› Local Knowledge
Hit the Highline Trail between Granite Park and Logan Pass before 8 a.m.—it’s a popular trail for dayhikers.

›› Do It All trailheads are on Going-to-the-Sun Road. Shuttle runs from early July through early September. Map Trails Illustrated Glacier/Waterton National Park #215 ($12; natgeomaps.com)
Contact (406) 888-7857; nps.gov/glac

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