Nov 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm #1296451
So, what are good 50-60 miles hikes in Glacier NP? It's someplace I've always wanted to go but about which I know relatively little. (Just ordered the Falcon Guide.) Since I'm not likely to get back there soon I'd like to make the hike as perfect as possible, so I'm starting my 2-year planning…
What I'm looking for:
1. Crowds as small as possible- I don't do this for the opportunities to socialize.
2. The classic Glacier views- mountains, U-shaped valleys, lakes, wildlife, etc.
3. So, some high and some down in the valleys would be ideal, but given a choice I favor high.
4. Not necessarily interested in bagging peaks, but not opposed either, should the route happen to hit one.
5. As mentioned, 50-60 miles or so. We have to fit this in around my hiking partner's spouse-imposed schedule, and that means 5 or 6 days on the trail.
6. I don't mind vague trails but would like to avoid overt bushwhacking (slow).
7. Likewise, a scramble is OK, but no mountaineering (i.e. ropes) please.
8. Loops are always nice, but not required. I could probably do a car shuttle, too. (Bus?)
9. Avoid the need for snowshoes. Microspikes would be OK. (See below)
NOTE- advice about dealing with bears is not solicited- the subject has been beaten to death. However, advice about trailheads, where to leave a car, etc., is always welcome.
Timing is vague- this far ahead I can plan the dates of the trip to suit the hike, but I'm definitely thinking 3-season, not winter. I could especially do something in the shoulder seasons if that is well-advised and avoids crowds, but would prefer not to need snowshoes or such. And I'm willing to take reasonable risks with the weather- I'm not delicate.Nov 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm #1931077
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
Check out Dave's "A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent" as a starter. Note also that crowds are seriously dependent upon the time of year. September can be excellent in Glacier–if the weather holds and the fire season is not too strong.
Also, I'd avoid the Belly River unless late in the season. The area is spectacular, but given the combination of low elevation, relatively level terrain, and campgrounds every four or five miles, it is packed.
If I were you, I'd go north and go high such as the Boulder Pass (east of Kintla Lake) and Hole-in-the-Wall areas then down into Goat Haunt. From there you can get out to the Loop via the Highline or Flattop Mountain or get into Many Glacier through Swiftcurrent Pass. I don't much care for Brown Pass northeast of Bowman Lake at least if you are heading east. The trees along the trail are just tall enough to kill a breeze but not tall enough to provide much in the way of shade.
Or you can go south and link Two Medicine, Cut Bank, and cut over to Gunsight Lake and Pass to have a very nice few days. The Two Medicine Pass area is also quite excellent and spectacular.
The best options would be to do some off trail travel if you feel up to it. Gordon Edwards' A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park is the definitive guide, and he has several off-trail routes that I'll be exploring this upcoming season.Nov 25, 2012 at 10:20 pm #1931102
Backpack JackBPL Member
@jumpbackjackLocale: Armpit of California
Dean here is what we did, I was in the same boat as you and this trip will be one that is unforgetable. Fairly easy hiking, not to strenuous, with beautifull views.
Any questions you can pm me and I will give you my phone # or email
JackNov 26, 2012 at 7:12 am #1931157
Going in Kintla, over Boulder Pass and Fifty Mountain, and out the Highline to Logan Pass is probably the best intro 60 miler. Figuring out the car spot will be a pain, but is worthwhile.
Early to mid September is a worthy gamble, weather-wise. You'll see a lot of people on this hike in August.Nov 26, 2012 at 7:59 am #1931170
Thanks, All. It's always especially nice to get the dope from locals. It seems that there are really only two (general) regions that are being recommended, though with many variations. I'll start researching these, but keep the ideas coming.
I am willing to go off-trail, but would prefer to avoid bushwhacking through thimbleberry jungles and the like.
And, yes, I'm thinking early September, but…
@Jack- what were the dates of that hike?Nov 26, 2012 at 9:13 am #1931181
Gary DunckelBPL Member
Do you suppose the 45 mile Nyack loop merits inclusion in this discussion? I've not done it, but the solitude and wildness appeals to me. Maybe the grunt work involved isn't worth it for the few great views you get?Nov 26, 2012 at 10:45 am #1931205
Coal-Nyack is a great hike (confession: never done it in summer), but the big views most come to Glacier for are lacking there, which is why I usually don't recommend it for first-timers. The southern loop I mention in my article (linked to by Clayton above) gives a good balance of scenery with more solitude.
Last month I was at a party and talked with the Walton backcountry ranger, whose beat is everything south of Lincoln Creek and east of the divide. She saw eight backpackers during her entire season of patrols. The other BC rangers would usually see thrice that many on any given day during August.
Dean, if you want to get adventurous buy Edwards' book and look into the Norris Traverse from Triple Divide Pass to Gunsight Lake. No bushwacking if you do it right, nothing worse than easy class 3, but big exposure in a few spots and route finding over Almost-a-dog Pass and down into Blackfoot basin that is quite unforegiving. Using this, Nyack Creek, and the trail along the Middle Fork and up Lincoln Creek to do a loop from Lake McDonald would be a great trip.Nov 29, 2012 at 4:45 am #1931890
OK, sure, I'll look at it. That hike sounds like my idea of solitude, but my partners are going to want the views.Dec 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm #1932621
Backpack JackBPL Member
@jumpbackjackLocale: Armpit of California
The dates were Aug. 27th-Sept 1stJul 8, 2013 at 2:38 am #2003637
Sorry to resurrect, but your profile says that you aren't set up for PMs. Hopefully you read this…
"I was at a party and talked with the Walton backcountry ranger, whose beat is everything south of Lincoln Creek and east of the divide. She saw eight backpackers during her entire season of patrols."
Did you mean WEST of the divide? That would seem to make more sense, since south of Lincoln creek east of the divide includes the popular Two-Medicine area.
Here's the obvious route that I came up with south of Lincoln Creek and west of the divide:
How does that look?
(Also included on that map is the other hike you recommended, through Brown pass and Goat Haunt to Logan's pass, as well as a gigantic loop in the middle of the park. I gave my hiking partners a list of 14 general areas for our hike next year, and it looks like they may settle on GLAC, so I'm researching GLAC hikes again.)
Do you know of a good guidebook for the Bob? (I can search Amazon as well as the next guy, but it's hard to know just what you're getting…)
DeanJul 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm #2003831
Yes, I meant west of the Divide.
Your map looks good. Be sure to dot your Is with the advance permit reservations if you decide on Glacier.
I've glanced through Erik Molver's Falcon guide to the Bob on a few occasions, and the book has a good reputation. I don't use guidebooks very often and thus can't be more specific.Jul 8, 2013 at 10:02 pm #2003977
I ask because The Bob is still on our list of possibilities. The Bob route you describe in "A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent" looks like about 90 miles if you make it a true loop, which is a bit long for what my partners want:
It can be cut down to 70 miles or so by hitchhiking or shuttling, but nonetheless after our Grand Canyon experiences the instructions from my partners include a "no death-marches" provision. (Wimps.) So I was just looking for *something* to give me ideas about routes that were possible, then I can hook them together however I like. I'll check out that book.Jul 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm #2004713
1. What's floating the Middle Fork of the Flathead like between White River and Spotted Bear River? I've found descriptions like "class I+ or II at worst." Clearly this is seasonal- but what approximate timeframe could I expect it to be gentle yet floatable on a packraft, if any? I note that you leave this section out of your Ultimate Packrafting Grand Tour description in "A Lightweight Guide to the Crown of the Continent,", presumably to avoid Meadow Creek Gorge and to hit Chinese Wall. I could portage anything too hairy, and my recon on GoogleMaps doesn't show anything that's likely to surprise me before I could make the bank, assuming similar flows to when they took the images. The lower part has the aforementioned Meadow Creek Gorge, which looks somewhat fatal, but I can put out and hike again that bit.
For that matter, what is White River itself like?
2. Speaking of, how far from Chinese Wall does the camping prohibition extend? Can one camp near My Lake, or below Larch Hill? How far up the Burnt Creek drainage is camping permitted? I'm in Afghanistan so my available information sources are limited, but what I found on the Forest Service webpage implies that camping might only be prohibited east of the divide between Salt Mountain and Moose Mountain. (In other words, in the upper Moose Creek drainage.)
EDIT– Hey… there's a packraft rental outfit in Whitefish… Hmm.
Damn- this is sounding more and more possible. What is the lower part of Youngs Creek like? The hike in to the South Fork is about 25 miles, but it looks like you can put into Youngs Creek earlier than that.Jul 11, 2013 at 6:20 am #2004740
For your packrafting questions I'd humbly suggest my own guidebook: http://bedrockandparadox.com/glacier-np-packrafting-guidebook/
3-4000 cfs at Twin Creek is probably the best overall level for floating on the South Fork. The uppermost sections, and lower Youngs Creek, are good and the more constricted sections lower down the S Fork aren't too forceful.
The camping restriction below the Wall is pretty much just the head of Moose Creek. There are some nice meadows right off the trail that get pounded otherwise. My Lake is a nice camp.Jul 12, 2013 at 6:43 am #2005120
Actually I've been trying to get to your website for a few days now, Dave, and it isn't loading. It just keeps trying to load but the page stays blank. I've cleared all cookies and caches- no dice. But, as I mentioned, I'm in Afghanistan again, so Lord alone knows what kind of shenanigans the Army is playing with my connectivity. If my partners do decide to try packrafting that region I'll definitely try to get your book when I get back.
I've ordered some maps which I am cautiosly optimistic may arrive here before my deployment ends, and after I've investigated them I may try to pick your brain again.
DeanJul 12, 2013 at 6:54 am #2005126
Weird. If you like, email me (dave at backpackinglight dot com) and I'll forward you a PDF.
Youngs Creek constricts about a mile below Hahn Creek. This gorge is really fun. It gets pushy above 4k cfs and stays runnable until a bit below 1k cfs.
The South Fork from the confluence to Big Prairie is slow and you'll run aground a bit below 1200 cfs or so. Above the White River you'll have issues at less than 600 cfs. Below the White is floatable year round. There area a few rapids in the Burnt Park area (about 5 river miles above the White) and a few between Black Bear Creek and the Meadow Creek takeout, which are worth paying attention to at almost any level.
The White River is fun and splashy. Below 3500 cfs it's probably too low to bother with.
All figures reference the Twin Creeks gauge.
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