Glacier NP - August

10:24 p.m. on March 19, 2014 (EDT)
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In process of planning out the permit request for our trip to Glacier NP & seeking input from those with Glacier experience.  Looking at a 6,7 day backpacking trip with my 11yo daughter.  Here is the route that I was initially looking at. 

Logan Pass to Granite Park (7.6m)

Granite Park to Fifty Mtn (11.9m)

Fifty Mtn to Goat Haunt Shelters (11.1m)

Goat Haunt Shelters to Stoney Indian Lake (8.1m)

Stoney Indian Lake to Glenns Lake FT (8.3m)

Glenns Lake FT to Elizabeth Lake FT (7.3m)

Elizabeth Lake FT to Many Glaciers

Is this route reasonable?  Other suggestions?  Am I missing anything?


10:57 a.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Hi Doug.  That is one ambitious trip you are planning , especially with an 11 year old.  I have done Logan Pass to Granite Park a few times.  That is a relatively flat trail that starts high and slowly climbs up to Granite Park Chalet.  It has breathtaking views the whole way.  If you do it early in the morning you are guaranteed to see lots of big horn sheep, hoary marmots, maybe some mountain goats, mountain grouse, and maybe some bears in the meadows near the chalet.  Granite Park to Fifty Mtn may be your most challenging leg of the trip because you climb up over the continental divide from Granite Park.  The Fifty Mtn campground is nice but be weary of the local wildlife.  The deer and the critters can be somewhat aggressive and want to steal your food and play with your gear.  I have also been to Many Glaciers many times but from the other side of the divide (not via Logan Pass).  There is a high concentration of Griz in the Many Glacier area.  A couple of your other destinations I am not sure if I've been.  I am going to have to look at my GNP map tonight. My little brother pretty much lives in GNP over the summer so I may be able to talk to him about those other destinations if you are needing more information.

My suggestions:

Make sure you and your daughter both have bear spray.  That is a must.  

Make sure you have bear canisters.  

Plan for good and bad weather no matter what the weather report says.  I am not sure what month you are going but I have been in Glacier in July and August and got snowed on, rained on and sunshine all in the same day.  Freak storms can come in at the higher elevations at anytime.  My Dad who lives semi close to GNP says Montana has had a rough winter so the snow pack at the peaks and alpine valleys can last well into the summer so make sure you do a little research there depending on how early in the season you are planning on going.  The park formally opens later in the summer sometimes due to the snow pack and when they can get Going to the Sun highway clear for traffic.  The last 3 summers there has been heavy construction on that highway as well so it can be slow going to get to Logan Pass sometimes.  My suggestion would be to start early in the morning.  You will beat the crowds at Logan Pass and you will also see lots more wildlife.  

That sounds like an epic trip and I am a bit jealous but I don't think my 10-yr old boy is ready for a trip like that yet.  He is going to get a good test next month when he and I do Havasupai in the Grand Canyon.  I can't wait!!

Make sure you take lots of pics and please do share a trip report.  I would love to hear about it.  Have fun!!  

8:17 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Jason, Thanks for the detailed info.  This seems to be the standard for the Northern Loop route, except that I added a night at Goat Haunt.  I do need to get some additional info such as elevation changes, etc.   We're planning for mid-August, probably a total of 15 days at Glacier.  Half backpacking, half camping.  This might be an once in a life time experience, so we want to get in as much as we can.  On a side note, I wish the NP system would have options for those who would like to visit without a car.  I was hoping not to rent a car, but I don't see anyway around it.  

I will definitely pack for all of the potential weather scenarios.  

 We did the Grand Canyon last year in April along with my dad.  4 days/3 nights, down South Kaibab, up Bright Angel.  Such as awesome time.  We could have spent another week exploring, my daughter didn't want to leave.  I should have posted a trip report, but didn't find the time.   We bought a dslr camera just for this trip.  I believe that we had taken 7,000 pictures!

Your going at a good time of the year, not too hot.  Have a great time! 

The start of our trip-

8:40 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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You have a little superstar there Doug.  Way cool.  

Snow pack won't be a problem in August.  

There are shuttle service options in GNP.  I have used the shuttles within the park on occasion. There may be shuttles from the hotels in Kalispell as well but I am not sure.  Hitchhiking is also pretty common.  I used to pick them up all the time when I was driving a beer truck in and around Glacier.  You might check the cab companies in the Kalispell, Columbia Falls area.  They may be able to shuttle you to and from the airport/hotel if you don't want to rent a car. 

You guys are going to have an amazing time.  Prepare to take about 14,000 pics.  lol.  Have fun.

8:54 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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The biggest issue is storage.  We travel light, but we'll still have stuff that won't be going with us in the backcountry.  As for as I understand, the park doesn't offer lockers, etc for storage.  Can anyone offer advise on this?


9:41 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Sounds like a great trip!  I actually went to GNP last August between 18- 23. I met with college friends and it was a bit like a reunion.  Not having any particular plans but just an urge to see one or two sites (Iceberg Lake, Swiftcurrent Lookout), we decided to pass on getting a reservation and instead take walk-in permits.  Because of this, I can only speak for part of your itinerary that crosses paths with what we did. We spent a few nights in the frontcountry with day hikes to occupy us and then two night/three day in the backcountry (Poia Lake campsite, Elizabeth Lake Head campsite).

I'm not aware of any food locker storage, but we didn't pursue that option so I can't say for certain.


The temps ranged from high 30s to high 60s.  Thankfully there was no rain during any of the time we were there, just smoke on the last day due to forest fires in CA blowing up north.  The Logan Pass to Granite Park Chalet area didn’t have an abundance of trees/shade, nor areas near Ptarmigan Tunnel and Red Gap Pass a few miles from Elizabeth Lake.  Keep that sunscreen or hat handy. 

Thankfully no rain during our time there, but as you said expect anything.  Nor did we have any problems with bugs and I actually didn't even think about that until I was writing this just now. 

Trail Conditions

All of the trails we were on were excellently marked, no issues there.  Near Ptarmigan Tunnel and Red Gap Pass there was loose stones/gravel so keep in mind when watching your footing.  Some of the trail was pretty steep. Between Logan Pass and Granite Park Chalet, it can get busy during the day.  We set off first thing. 

We were actually parked on the Going-to-the-Sun road in line for it to open.  Went straight to Logan Pass and took off.  We had to be one of the first and it was great.  One day we took a shuttle along the GTS road and we could actually see lines of people on that portion of the Highline Trail.  Abnormal, maybe or maybe not?


There shouldn’t be any problem with find and filtering/purifying water.  The Many Glacier area is very wet.  During our August trip finding water was very convenient.


We say plenty of the smaller critters like pikas and chipmunks but also happen to come across a black bear only feet after starting on our path to Poia Lake (near entrance of Many Glacier).  A bull moose was also in the distance at another point.  Like Jason Ruff said, just be mindful. 


It was one year ago so I’m not sure on the current status, but some of the GTS road was having work performed.  There were some areas with only one lane open at a time.  We had our own car, but ended up using the shuttle system along the GTS for convenience.  We wouldn’t need to wait in the car and we would ALL see great views.  It worked out

Day Trips

Since you’re planning on 15 days, I’ll throw out those day trips we did and thoroughly enjoyed.

Logan Pass Visitor Center to Hidden Lake – 6 miles round trip or 3 miles roundtrip if only going to the overlook.  The picture below is from the overlook.  Mostly a wooden and concrete path leading from Logan Pass Visitor Center to the overlook, it can be very crowded, almost to a point of detracting you. We passed maybe 250 on the way up, people of all ages.  The view was fantastic and it was only 1.5 miles one way.  Then we decided to go the 1.5 miles down to the lake shore…maybe coming across 5 people!  We took a break and relaxed on the pebbled shore.  Short trip, very quick, views of mountain goat…highly recommend going all the way down to the lake. Elevation might have been 400 up and 400 down.

Apikuni Falls is off the Many Glacier road and only 1 mile to the falls.  A bear passed this trail, it’s in a more wooded area and more susceptible. Beautiful (100ft??) falls. The mist at the bottom is fantastic.

If you go near Two Medicine (southeast portion of the park) Cobalt Lake is a fine day hike from the frontcountry campsites. It’s 12 miles round trip but very doable and has many turnaround points if you don’t want to go all the way to the lake.  A few places with elevation, but nothing unexpected.  This was actually our first day of hiking at GNP. Nice shaded areas as well as open expanses.

If I think of anything else, I'll post it.  You two seem like you have things planned nicely and will be prepared.  I'm having issues posting pictures at the moment, but will show you a few of what you can expect. Have fun!

9:47 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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View from Hidden Lake overlook...just 1.5 down to the lake's edge!

From Poia Lake down to Elizabeth Lake. Atop Red Gap Pass, like previously mentioned more of a rocky trail surface.

At Elizabeth Lake (Head) looking up toward Ptarmigan Tunnel.

11:43 p.m. on March 20, 2014 (EDT)
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Great pics and feedback Daniel.  You've motivated me to share a couple pics. 


Garden Wall Trail on the way to Granite Park Chalet:



Message Board inside Granite Park Chalet.



Avalanche Lake:



Always lots of wildlife:



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