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Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Albuquerque, New...
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Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Hello! My husband and I will be visiting Glacier July 7-14 and are looking for some guidance on hikes. He visited GNP once as a kid; this is my first visit. We love getting outside and are avid hikers.

Our tentative plan is:

Saturday 7/7

Arrive into Great Falls around 1 pm, pick up rental car, buy food and bear spray in Great Falls, and drive to St. Mary Lodge (where we will be staying the entire trip; we're hoping it will be a good base location, as most of what we're planning to do is in East Glacier/Many Glacier).

*Any suggestions for a short hike this evening?

Sunday 7/8

Hike Grinnell Glacier trail (9.7 miles according to AllTrails)

Monday 7/9

Hike Two Medicine Lake Loop (16.4 miles)

Tuesday 7/10

Drive Going to the Sun Road

*About how long is the drive likely to take if we start at the east entrance shortly after sunrise? Any must-sees along the way, especially on the western portion, since we won't be spending much time over there?

Wednesday 7/11

Hike Ptarmigan Lake Trail (8.9 miles)

Thursday 7/12

Horseback ride on the Cracker Flats route along Lake Sherburne

Hike Bullhead Lake Trail (6.9 miles)

Friday 7/13

Hike The Garden Wall (via Highline Trail) plus the spur to Mount Gould (my husband is into peak-bagging) (~16 miles)

Saturday 7/14

2 pm flight out of Great Falls

*General thoughts/suggestions?

*Are we missing any must-see hikes or other activities?

*How likely is it that all of these hikes will be open? Suggestions for others to consider if some are still too snowpacked?

*Do we need to be overly worried about bears? Though it will just be the two of us hiking together, I'm thinking most of these trails are well-traveled enough to make any encounters unlikely.

Any and all guidance is appreciated. Thank you very much!

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5 replies to this topic
Hudson, Wisconsin
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1. Re: Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Some suggestions:

Saturday - a good short hike option may be St. Mary/Virginia Falls (3.6 mi. RT). Just depends on how quickly you get up to the park.

Sunday - Just FYI, Grinnell Glacier Trail is more like 11 mi. RT.

Monday - When you say "Two Medicine Lake Loop (16.4 miles)", I'm assuming you mean Dawson-Pitamakan Loop (18.5 mi. RT), right? An amazing hike, but I'm not certain that one will be fully passable by 7/9 due to lingering snowpack. If it's not fully accessible, perhaps consider Medicine Grizzly Lake from the Cut Bank trailhead if you want a longer dayhike. If you want a more relaxing day in Two Medicine, do Upper Two Medicine Lake (w/ the boat shuttle) or Scenic Point.

Tuesday - Try to see Wild Goose Overlook near sunrise. Then get up to Logan Pass and do the Hidden Lake Overlook hike (should be still snow covered, but hikeable). If time, do Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake on the west side of the park and take in the views from Apgar of Lake McDonald.

Wednesday - Ptarmigan Lake will probably be accessible. But if the Ptarmigan Tunnel doors are open, definitely head up all the way to the tunnel. In fact, even if the tunnel doors are not open yet due to snowpack, I would still head up a switchback or two above Ptarmigan Lake for fabulous views.

Thursday - Looks good.

Friday - Highline may be open, but I'm not sure you'll be able to reach Mt. Gould or Grinnell Glacier Overlook.

As with all these hikes, check for trail updates frequently as your trip approaches and have alternatives in mind. Iceberg Lake and Cracker Lake may be a few other options I have not mentioned to consider if your desired hikes are still snow covered/impassible.

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Albuquerque, New...
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2. Re: Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Hi Jeremiah Z! Thank you so much for the great information. You highlighted several trails I wasn't aware of. A few questions...

Monday: It looks like we can take Two Medicine Road almost to the lake and then get on the Two Medicine South Shore trail to Dawson Pass (clockwise loop around the lake). Does that sound right? I should totally be used to AllTrails underestimating distances by now though!

From what I can find online, it looks like the boat shuttle takes walk-ons if we decide to go that route. Do you know if there usually tends to be space?

Friday: Is Highline worth doing if only a portion of it is open?

Hudson, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

It's much quicker (and more scenic) to hike to Dawson Pass via the Two Medicine North Shore trail (from Two Medicine Campground/Pray Lake...about 3/4 mi. drive from the boat dock/campstore on Two Medicine Lake). It's 13.6 mi. RT to do the hike this way. The South Shore trail is almost completely in the trees.

It looks like there are tickets available now ahead of time for the boat shuttle. You may be able to walk-on day of, but I wouldn't put a ton of confidence in that. If you took the boat shuttle, you would save 4.6 mi. of total hiking miles. Obviously, book the 9am tour if you go that route. If Dawson Pass isn't accessible yet, however, Upper Two Medicine Lake will be, and is a nice easy scenic day hike.

The portion of the Highline that usually opens last is the section closest to Logan Pass. It varies from year-to-year when it opens. So, if it isn't fully open, you'll have to hike up from the Loop to reach it...a daunting task!

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4. Re: Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Use these resources for hiking instead of AllTrails:

https:/…hikingthetrails.htm

enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierNationalPark.html

http://www.hikinginglacier.com/

https://www.hike734.com/hiking/

Albuquerque, New...
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5. Re: Guidance on Glacier Hiking July 7-14

Thanks for all of this information! Looking forward to an amazing trip.

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