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Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions
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Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 01/25/2010 21:40:26 MST Print View

I'm planning on doing a trip to Glacier, and it basically follows Sam Haraldson's suggestion he made in a previous post. Here's the trip outline:
-----------------------------
Trip One - "The Northern Traverse" - 7 days, 6 nights This trip consists of 7 - 10 +/- mile days and will allow participants to experience the entire Northern span of the park. It brings you up and over both the grueling Stoney Indian Pass as well as the mellower Brown Pass (the continental divide). As a means of reference as to the difficulty of this route, I did this route in three days and two nights last summer, averaging 20+ miles per day. It recommended as a 5+ day hike, so to do it in 7 would allow time to appreciate the scenery and relax in camp.

Day 1. Hike from Chief Mtn. Ranger Station (Northeastern corner of the park) to either Cosley or Glenn's Lake campsite

Day 2. Hike to the gorgeous Stoney Indian Pass campsite

Day 3. Hike to the Goat Haunt area (can't remember the names of camps here).

Day 4. Hike to the Lake Francis campground which is in my opinion the first or second best campsite in the park.

Day 5. From Lake Francis, climb the mellow Brown's Pass switchbacks, and head to either Hole-in-the-Wall or Boulder Pass campsites. Boulder Pass is the other "best" campsite in Glacier. Even the toilet (an open air "low-rider") provides a spectacular view of the Whitefish Mtn. Range.

Day 6. Drop down the pounding switchbacks to either the camps at Upper or Lower Kintla Lake.

Day 7. Finish the trip by hiking out to the Kintla Car camping area.
---------------------------

My plan is to park at the trailhead near Chief Mountain Customs (I think Sam called it Chief Mountain Ranger Station) in the northeast corner of the park. After hiking the suggested route outlined above, I'll hitchhike to the Apgar Visitor Center. Then, I'll take the park's free shuttle over to St. Mary Visitor Center, and finally take the Glacier Park Inc.'s fee-based shuttle back to my car.

For those of you who know this area, does this sound like a good plan? Do you have better ideas?

Is hitchhiking advisable and/or reliable here?

Please, any and all comments and suggestions for this trip are very welcome! Thanks!

Edited by T.L. on 01/25/2010 21:43:51 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 01/27/2010 20:20:45 MST Print View

Bump.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Glacier Park on 01/27/2010 21:09:34 MST Print View

Travis, most of my hiking in that corner of Montana has been next door in the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness Areas, so I can't comment on your itinerary beyond noting that the Belly River Valley, where you'll end your trip, is terrific scenery and great fishing. I do know that hitchhiking in GNP is commonplace and the Park Service Shuttles reliable.

I'm jealous; have a great time. Richard

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
hitchin' on 01/27/2010 21:47:25 MST Print View

I've only hiked portions of that route, and those parts were awesome. Stoney Indian Pass is just fantastic (I had the good fortune to have the lake camp all to myself last summer).

The few times I've tried to hitch in Glacier has been easy enough. At the end of the aforementioned trip, while standing on the side of Going-to-the-Sun road in pouring rain at 7pm, the first car by picked me up. Up north near Kintla might be a longer wait, but I think it'd be doable. Bring a sign and a smile.

I would certainly not embark on such a trip without my fly rod, camera, or mosquito net (if hiking in July to maximize flower viewing.

Edited by DaveC on 01/27/2010 21:52:30 MST.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
GNP on 01/27/2010 21:55:03 MST Print View

Travis, exactly when are you making this trip? I can suggest some things...

Do you have your camp permits already, or are you hoping to get them soon? If you have them, what is your exact itinerary?

Edit: My avatar shows the view south up the Belly River toward Cosley and Stony Indian Pass.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 01/27/2010 22:01:20 MST.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
GNP Trip on 01/27/2010 21:55:51 MST Print View

Hey Travis - I did a decent portion of your hike this past August - all beautiful sections of the park! We started at Kintla Lake and then exited at Goat Haunt for one half of the trip and then took the shuttles back around and did a loop from Many Glacier for the second half. We camped at Upper Kintla Lake, Boulder Pass and Hole in the Wall on the first portion. I would highly highly recommend Boulder Pass - it was probably the best camp site I saw in our entire trip. It's a amazing place. As you probably know - you have to apply for your trip through the NPS which means you might not get anything you asked for so I wouldn't do too much planning before you receive your itinerary from the park service if possible...I didn't get anything I requested but my take away from my trip to Glacier is that you cannot go wrong with any of it - it is all amazing. What you are applying for is a popular hike so depending on your flexibility with dates you might not get your ideal itinerary. But maybe you will be luckier than I was. I would suggest looking at some hikes in the southern end of the park like around Dawson Pass. The southern end of the park is not quite as popular but, from everything I have heard, is just as spectacular as the northern end that I saw.

Logistics for the first part of your hike won't be a problem however the logistics on the second end could be problematic as Kintla Lake is the most remote trail head in the park which means the fewest number of cars coming and going each day. If you plan to camp there at night this will help to make sure you are waiting early so that you have every chance to hitch a ride with each car leaving. I would think you would most likely be able to get out but there isn't a guarantee you would get out the first day you tried.

If you have any other questions I'll try to help answer them but I'm sure there are some folks here that have been to Glacier multiple times that could provide better advice. Best of luck planning the trip! It'll be an awesome trip!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: GNP Trip on 01/27/2010 22:15:42 MST Print View

Thanks everybody!

David
>I would certainly not embark on such a trip without my fly rod

Maybe a good excuse to get the Tenkara Hane rod?!
How tough is Stoney Indian Pass?

Gary--I'm about to send in my request for the first two weeks in August. I'm guessing that's a pretty popular time, so we'll see what I get. From what the GNP website said, all applications received before a certain date (I think sometime in March) go into a lottery anyways. I wonder if it really is luck of the draw.... I'll post my itinerary when I get it, but that could take weeks!

Richard and Trevor--Thanks for the information! Its (relatively) tough to change an itinerary when you've got your heart set on one, but as I've read here and many other places, you just can't really go wrong in Glacier. I've got an opportunity to go, and I don't want to pass it up.

William McCreight
(whmcc)

Locale: Oregon, USA
Mokowanis and Margaret Lakes on 01/27/2010 22:46:13 MST Print View

If you have the time and the inclination, at the west end of Glenns Lake, there is a drainage which goes south on the east side of the divide, and takes you to Mokowanis Lake, and further up alongside a beautiful waterfall, mostly on goat trails, to Margaret Lake and Ipasha Lake. I do not recall what the current campsite permitting is in that area, as I was there probably in 1974 or so. However, it is a lovely side dayhike if you want to leave your camp below, or even better a great high camp if the crowds are in the area that time of year. Check it out on Google Maps or such, or better yet in Google Earth with the pseudo-3D you can achieve with that! Fond memories of that hike and that country. Also hit Fifty Mountain between Stoney Indian and Granite Park Chalet (if it is still there) if you hike "The Garden Wall" south to Logan Pass.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Mokowanis and Margaret Lakes on 01/28/2010 09:21:07 MST Print View

I plan on doing this in 6-7 nights simply so I can really enjoy and take in all I can. It can be done in 3-4 nights, but I'd like to be able to do the little sidetrips you suggest.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 01/28/2010 15:28:20 MST Print View

I've done this route three times. Once with friends at a leisurely pace, once solo making as many miles as possible, and a third time during my thru-hike of the PNT. It's a beautiful route that doesn't deserve being hurried through.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
wildlife? on 01/28/2010 15:32:54 MST Print View

Could anybody comment about the presence of wildlife along that trail? I've photographed the normal Glacier wildlife, but I would love to find a wolverine or something.
--B.G.--

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 01/28/2010 23:49:53 MST Print View

Sam,
I got your other PM earlier. Thanks a bunch for all your help. I just hope I get my itinerary!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Stoney Indian on 01/29/2010 22:44:38 MST Print View

"How tough is Stoney Indian Pass?"

That depends on your standards! I'd say not at all, really. Glacier doesn't have many passes that are that high, nor trails that are especially steep. Coming from the east is harder than coming from the west, but it's cake (both in gain and grade) compared to anything in the Grand Canyon.

Coming up from the east, you'll be so busy looking around at all the amazing scenery that the gain will just fly by.

As for wildlife, I saw goats above Stoney Indian Lake, and had my pole handles gnawed on by deer overnight. On that trip (mid-July) I saw no bears at all, though on a dayhike south of there in August (over Iceberg Lake notch and Swiftcurrent Pass, as a loop from The Loop) I saw five Griz and one black bear in 10 hours.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
deer on 01/30/2010 00:22:14 MST Print View

It sounds like the deer went after the sweaty parts.
--B.G.--

Will McElwee
(wmcelwee) - F
Glacier on 02/02/2010 13:41:31 MST Print View

Hi Travis. I did pretty much the same route you are describing in reverse back in 2007. We started at Kintla Lake and hiked to Goat Haunt. Then from there through Stoney Indian Pass, the Belly River area, and exited via Chief Mtn Customs. The entire trip took 5 days, which is ideal if you actually want to enjoy the areas you are passing through. I can tell you that approaching Stoney Indian Pass from the opposite direction was strenuous, but not killer. I'm a marathon runner and it still felt like hard work to me. I can't really comment about approaching it from the Belly River complex, except that it did seem like we lost a good bit of elevation coming back down the other side. I can only imagine it is a hard climb from either side. A few suggestions I would make are as follows:
(1) Don't forget about Hole In The Wall campground. It is right up there with Boulder Pass and any other scenic campgrounds in the park. HOL would be a great backup plan in case you don't land Boulder.
(2) Shoot for Upper Kintla Lake campground on your last night in the backcountry. It is very pleasant to wake up in the morning and see Kintla & Kinnerly Peaks reflecting off the lake while eating breakfast.
(3) Check out Gordon Edwards' guide to mountain climbing in Glacier. Even if you are not a rock climber, there are still lots of non-technical peaks that can be climbed with a good hard scramble along the way. If you have 5 or 6 days (or more) to hike, then you should plan to ascend at least one peak along the way. Try Mt. Merritt (the route from Mokawanis Lake) to one of the best views in the entire park!
(4) Don't camp at Goat Haunt. Staying there among the tourists getting off the ferry, and having to camp on a concrete pad under a man-made shelter is a real bummer after being in the backcountry for a couple of days. Enjoy Waterton Lake for a few minutes and then press on away from from civilization for a couple more days :)
(5) Consider taking the shortcut from Stoney Indian Pass to Fifty Mtn campground (again, see Edwards' guide). This is kind of a trade off, because you'll actually bypass Stony Indian Lake and campground (which are both extraordinary). But, you'll have the added adventure of taking the true "high" route to Fifty Mtn (perhaps the best campground in the park). From Fifty you can hike back down to Goat Haunt and then continue on your original route.
Hope I haven't given you too much advice but I get excited about hiking in Glacier country! Lots of Luck! WillHole In The Wall from Boulder Pass

Will McElwee
(wmcelwee) - F
Picture on 02/02/2010 13:46:06 MST Print View

That last picture was Hole In The Wall take from Boulder Pass. Here is a picture of Boulder Pass taken during my 2007 hike.Boulder Pass

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Glacier Pictures on 02/02/2010 19:50:50 MST Print View

David--thanks for your insight on Stoney Indian Pass. I know its hard to give an answer to a question like that.

Will--great pictures! You gave a great amount of information, and I'll have to check out Edward's book. Unfortunately, I sent out my reservation request about an hour before I read your post, so didn't really get to consider your input. However, I may still be able to work in bagging a peak or two (as long as I can find some non-technical ones).

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 02/02/2010 20:40:27 MST Print View

Glacier is full of non-technical ascents. And the views from the peaks are like nothing else. There is something to be said for being able to see a literal sea of mountains for hundreds of miles to the North and South of you.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Glacier National Park Trip Suggestions on 02/02/2010 20:51:07 MST Print View

Sam,
What would be some specific peaks along this route? I've planned for 7 nights, so I'll have time to do these types of things.

Will McElwee
(wmcelwee) - F
Mt. Merritt on 02/08/2010 15:22:38 MST Print View

My friends and I are planning to hike through some of the same areas you are talking about in September. We are hoping to climb Mt. Merritt if the weather will cooperate. Its supposed to be one of the best views in the park. You could probably climb the Stony Indian Peaks along the way, or there are several others with all the territory you are covering. Again, I would definitely grab a copy of Edwards' book.