Mar 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm #1287087
Was looking for some insight on great routes for a 3-4 night back-country trip in Glacier National Park in late July/early August? Not looking to burn 15-20 miles a day, but not looking for the easiest routes as well.Mar 14, 2012 at 7:26 am #1853542
@davecLocale: The West Slope
Dave, some more specifics about your goals and preferences would be useful. Regardless, that's a very popular time of year, I would say you need to put in a permit application to guarantee yourself a trip. When you do, I'd suggest holding fast to your desired plan, but being flexible with a range of dates (ie can start on any day between the 25th and 30th).Mar 14, 2012 at 7:32 am #1853547
I'm no Glacier expert, but I did go two summers ago. All I can comment on is the route I took, but I'll be happy to help if you have questions. I began at Bowman lake, over to Lake Janet, then back up over to Lake Kintla. It was kind of a horseshoe hike, with some hitchhiking involved.Mar 14, 2012 at 7:36 am #1853548
Yeah, going to put in the application for permits. I think you can submit as of April 18th if I am correct. Unfortunalety it's the only time we can get out there, and I know it's the busy season. Looking for maybe 10-12 miles a day(15 max), so that the wife and I can take our time and really enjoy ourselves. Looking to get away from the general flatness of Michigan and see some real terrain.Mar 14, 2012 at 9:02 am #1853585
You mention 3-4 days and then 4 nights in your post, so I'm confused by what your real time-frame is, but I did the northern circle in 4 nights on walk-in permits.
Day 1: Many Glacier to Glens Lake (15-ish miles, 3k ft elevation gain)
Day 2: Glens Lake to Kootenia Lakes (another 15-ish miles and 3k ft gain and a bunch of descent from stoney to kootenia )- you could probably cut this mileage down significantly if you can get a campsite at Stoney Indian
Day 3: Kootenia to Fifty mountain (9 miles…maybe 2k ft gain)
Day 4: Fifty to Granite Park (11.9 miles….maybe 1k ft gain)
Day 5: Granite Park to Many Glacier (7.6 miles – mostly descent 3-4k ft)
This hike ranks up there with the best I've ever done and that list includes quite a few classics.
And I did this during my "ultra-heavy" days. I think my pack weight for this trip tipped 50lbs.Mar 14, 2012 at 9:37 am #1853606
Mary RBPL Member
I did a route very similar to the one Spencer posted. It was pretty incredible and I recommend it. I would definitely try to get a site at Stoney Indian rather than Kootenai. Stoney is probably one of the best campsites in the park and Kootenai is slightly out of the way. It requires a long descent then ascent through thick brush that is miserable to go through in the rain.
You could also try going across the norther part of the park. There are some pretty great views and campsites up there and I don't think it is as busy/crowded as the area around Many Glacier. However, any route like that will incur some hefty shuttle fees.Mar 14, 2012 at 9:50 am #1853615
@davecLocale: The West Slope
It pushes your mileage a bit, but the classic Northern Circle (Many Glacier to the Loop, going through Ptarmigan Tunnel, Stoney Indian Pass, and over Fifty Mountain) is a strong contender for single best trailed route in the park. You get a good variety of terrain and lots of time above the brush line (5500' or so).
The northern traverse (Kintla to the Belly River TH) is also good, but the logistics are quite the nuisance.Mar 14, 2012 at 10:06 am #1853627
Yeah I remember that descent to Kootenia Lakes after a long day being a real kicker. Plus it felt as if I was going to come-up on a bear on every switch back in that brush. The one good thing I remember about Kootenia was the wildlife. The camp is right on the lake and I watched a couple moose wading in and eating vegetation on the bottom while I myself was eating breakfast:Mar 14, 2012 at 11:26 am #1853678
And the bad part about kootenia lakes is the mosquitos I did the northern circle starting the day after getting married in polebridge. The ptarmigan tunnel trail was closed due to bear problems so we had to go from many glacier to poia lake then to lake elizebeth through red gap pass it was a beautiful trip I hope to do again some day. Doing it in 4 days staying under 15miles aday sounds possible as its like 55 miles starting at the the ptamigan tunnel trail and not doing kootenia lake but that would really depend on camping availability. Otherwise St marys lake to gunsite pass to sperry chalet to lake Mcdonald is not a bad trip and although not a loop it starts and ends on going to the sun rd so a shuttle or hitching a ride dont get no easier. Question to O.P. how many days do you have to spend in the park total? Have you ever been there B4? You might want to spend so time car touring the parkMar 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm #1853997
Yeah, sorry for any of my inconsistencies. The wife and I could go for either a 3 or four night stay, depending on the route, distances, etc. Just trying to get any trips that others have taken so I can look at the map and figure it out. Thanks for all of the suggestions. Really appreciate them.Mar 14, 2012 at 9:48 pm #1854020
Mark, that's awesome you got married in Polebridge! I proposed to my girlfriend on top of Boulder Peak.Mar 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm #1854423
Yes we were married by John Fredricks who was a justice of the peace then stayed in one of his tiny log cabins that night behind the hostel then went for a hike and had a close encounter with a mama and cubs. Two nights later had my head sniffed through the tent by a griz at lake elizebeth and had our first married fight the next morning, when I found all the food and smelly stuff that she didnt bearbag. We made it ten years together total I do miss hiking with her and we are still friends. Travis I remember reading your trip report, it was beautiful man… sniffMar 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm #1854434
Mark, that's crazy close to a grizz! Glad it wasn't an aggressive one. Sheesh, gives me the willies.
Look for my follow-up trip report about the honeymoon. Should be up within the month.
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