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Readers’ Choice Mountain West: Gunsight Pass, Glacier NP

See the park's famed glaciers from a high mountain pass.
mtnwest rc gunsight 445x260Gunsigth Pass, Glacier NP (Chuck Haney)

Santa Maria Spring, Grand Canyon NP | Mr. Bubbles, Yellowstone NP | West Maroon Pass, CO | Mills Lake, Rocky Mountain NP | The Colorado Trail | Gunsight Pass, Glacier NP

“The best view in the park, if not the whole country.” That’s what Jerry Kessler promises hikers who trek from St. Mary Lake to Lake McDonald via Gunsight Pass.

Day one Begin this 25-miler at the Jackson Glacier Overlook. Follow the Piegan Pass Trail for 1.3 miles, dropping gradually to Reynolds Creek and 30-foot high Deadwood Falls. Turn right onto Gunsight Pass Trail and ascend through moss-covered pines. At four miles, pass Florence Falls Trail and continue toward Gunsight Pass. Reach Gunsight Lake at 6.5 miles and follow the trail along its south shore to see 9,258-foot Gunsight Mountain reflected in its waters. Bounce across a suspension bridge before sweating up 1,600 feet over three miles to 6,946-foot Gunsight Pass.

Gape at the Lewis Range to the southeast, but keep an eye on the clouds. If thunderstorms threaten (common in summer after 2 p.m.), duck into the stone hut to wait it out (safety up high is better than the long descent to treeline). Then drop 1,000 feet in one mile to camp at Lake Ellen Wilson (permit required).

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