Glorious Glacier: short hikes for August

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 13-19, 1998
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Glorious Glacier: short hikes for August

Glorious Glacier: short hikes for August
Question: I’m taking my husband to Glacier National Park for a week in late August and would like information on moderate day hikes (under six miles) that will allow him to feel challenged without overwhelming me. I’m in moderately good health but want to stick to a six-mile daily max. He bags a major peak every year, including Whitney, Rainier, and Grand Teton. We are staying at Many Glacier but will have a car. Thanks for any help/suggestions you can offer.

Jodee Becker
Sherman Oaks, California

Bright yellow wildflowers thicken the meadows of Logan Pass
Adventure Adviser: You picked a great spot — Glacier National Park (and northern Montana in general) is pretty spectacular in late August. Most of the high snow has melted, leaving beyond thick meadows of purple lupine, yellow asters, red paintbrush and blue columbines. And Many Glacier, on the dry east side of the Continental Divide, is a perfect spot to relax for a week and breath in that cool Montana air. Enjoy a beer and watch the sunset from the lodge’s vast wooden deck!

You can walk right from Many Glacier onto Iceberg Lake trail, one of my favorites in the park. It’s a bit longer than what you’re after (4.5 miles each way, and just under 1200’ of climbing), but if you take it slow it shouldn’t be too bad. Iceberg is a shimmering high alpine lake, and even in late summer you’ll see chunks of ice floating in the turquoise waters. Bring lunch, picnic on the flower-covered slopes and be on the look-out for the many mountain goats scaling the nearby cliffs.

For a shorter option, head to Grinnell Glacier, 3.8 miles each way if you take a boat ride from Many Glacier. The trail leads to an overlook above the Glacier. Grinnell Lake is another exquisite lake, and a very easy and gentle hike. It’s 6.8 miles round-trip, or just under two if you hitch a ride on the boat.

You might want to take the morning hiker’s shuttle one day (call Glacier Park, Inc. at 406-862-2539 for details, or inquire at Many Glacier) from Many Glacier to the trailheads at Siyeh Bend, Logan Pass and the Loop, and enjoy a higher-elevation hike. Elsewhere in the park, don’t miss the Two Medicine area. Take a boat ride across the lake, or head out on the Cobalt Lake/Two Medicine Pass trail, just over eight miles round-trip but fairly moderate. There are lots of great waterfalls around Two Medicine. Another day, head over to the Lake McDonald region, in the rainier and more forested east side of the park. Two good choices here are the four-mile round-trip trek to Avalanche Lake, surrounded by high peaks and waterfalls, and the more challenging Granite Peak, a seven-mile hike accessed from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Since you’ll have a car, I’d make the trek north into Waterton, Glacier National Park’s Canadian extension. Try either the 6.8 mile trail to Bertha Lake, which passes through forest and by waterfalls, or the 7+-mile hike to Rowe Lakes and some great views.

Wherever you’re hiking, remember this is prime grizzly country — a Glacier ranger was killed by a bear earlier this year. Stay out of the low willow trees, and sing or jingle a bear bell while you hike.

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