Glacier National Park Three-Day Trips

Glacier National Park Three Day Trips

You’re getting excited about heading out to Glacier National Park for that sweet three day/two night backpacking trip and you look at the map and see 734 miles of trail and 65 campsites. What to do?!

Here are a bunch of my picks in video form with me walking you all over the map. There are views, great chance of animal sightings and just all around Glacier goodness. Below the video are all of the trips listed out with distances which I covered. If you think I missed a trip or want to ask about one, comment below! (You may want to click on the video and watch it on youtube in HD so you can see where I’m pointing)

(number after leg is trip length in miles)

Three day backpacking trips in Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road region

Gunsight Pass
Jackson Glacier Overlook to Gunsight Lake(6)
to Sperry Campground (7.5)
to Lake McDonald Lodge (6)

Jackson Glacier Overlook to Lake Ellen Wilson (11)
to Sperry Campground (2.5) Day trip up Lincoln Peak and/or Sperry Glacier
to Lake McDonald Lodge (6)

Logan Pass to Granite Park via Highline (~8)
to Many Glacier over Swiftcurrent (~8)
over Piegan Pass to Siyeh Bend (12.5)

Many Glacier

Apikuni Flats to Poia Lake (6.5)
to Elizabeth Lake over Redgap Pass (10)
to Many Glacier through Ptarmigan Tunnel (10.5)

Apikuni Flats to Poia Lake (6.5)
to Gable Creek over Redgap Pass (13.5)
to Chief Mountain trailhead (5.5) (day hike to Bear Mountain Overlook)

Apikuni Flats to Poia Lake (6.5)
to Elizabeth Lake over Redgap Pass (10)
to Chief Mountain trailhead (9)

Belly River

Chief Mountain trailhead to Elizabeth Lake(9)
to Cosley(4) (day hike 3 mile round trip to Bear Mountain point)
to Chief Mountain trailhead (8.5)

Chief Mountain trailhead to Elizabeth Lake (9)
to Mokowanis Lake (9)
to Chief Mountain trailhead (13.5)

Chief Mountain trailhead to Cosley (8.5)
to Stoney Indian Lake (9.5)
to Goat Haunt (7)

Chief Mountain trailhead to Glenns Lake Head (12)
to Kootenai Lakes (10)
to Goat Haunt (3)

Chief Mountain trailhead to Slide Lake(8)
to Cosley Lake (8)
to Chief Mountain trailhead (8.5)

Logan Pass to Granite Park via Highline (~8)
to Fifty Mountain (12)
to Goat Haunt (10)

Goat Haunt to Lake Frances (6)
to Hole-in-the-Wall (4)
to Goat Haunt (10)

Two Medicine

Old Man Lake trailhead to No Name Lake (4.5)
to Morningstar Lake (8.5)
to Cutbank trailhead (6.5)

Old Man Lake trailhead to Old Man Lake (6.5)
to Morningstar Lake (5)
to Cutbank trailhead (6.5)

Old Man Lake trailhead to Old Man Lake (6.5)
to No Name Lake via Pitamakan and Dawson Passes (8)
to Old Man Lake trailhead (4.5)

Old Man Lake trailhead to Morningstar Lake via Pitamakan Pass (11)
to head Red Eagle Lake (13.5)
to Old Ranger Station in St. Mary (8.5)

Cutbank trailhead to Atlantic Creek (4.5)
to head Red Eagle Lake (9.5)
to Old Ranger Station in St. Mary (8.5)

North Fork

Kintla Lake to Upper Kintla (10.5)
to Hole-in-the-Wall (8)
to Goat Haunt (10)

Bowman Lake to Bowman Lake head campground (6.6)
to Hole-in-the-Wall(8.5)
to Goat Haunt (10)

Bowman Lake to Quartz Lake via Cerulean Ridge (6.2)
to Lower Quartz (3)
to Bowman Lake via Quartz Ridge (3)

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162 responses to “Glacier National Park Three-Day Trips”

  1. Do you have anything that includes Lake Isabel? A few buddies and I are looking for exactly this length of trip! We thought maybe Cobalt Lake to Isabel from Two Med?

    1. I hiked from Park Creek to Lake Isabel and that was looooooong, but I loved the hike from Isabel out. It’s 5 miles from Two Medicine to Cobalt Lake and 5.6 more to Lake Isabel with a cool hike up and over Two Medicine Pass. I think any combination there and back would be great! Keep in mind that Cobalt’s campground takes a bit to open up as snow lingers there a bit.

  2. Stef Dreher Avatar
    Stef Dreher

    Thanks for putting this up! We are looking to do an early July trip (only time we can go this year) and I have been struggling over books, maps, trail guides etc to try and figure out what backcountry sites would be suitable for that early in the season. Thanks!

    1. Did you get what you needed from the blog or do you need more info?

  3. Edward Avatar

    Which one of these do you think would be possible without advanced reservation for August? How would you rank these three day trips? Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure which ones would be available honestly. I think any trips that have Stoney Indian, Elizabeth Lake foot, Granite Park, Fifty Mountain, Hole-in-the-Wall and Lake Ellen Wilson, you’ll struggle to get a site in unless you get there super early. Other than that, I think that Two Medicine/Cutbank/St. Mary should be pretty good. Many Glacier and Highline are pretty tough while the Belly (minus Elizabeth Lake) should be okay. I would say that the Highline, Two Medicine and the Belly are probably some of my favorites, so I’ll let you figure it out from there. 😉

  4. Which of these would be doable the first week of July?

  5. Jason Hansen Avatar
    Jason Hansen

    Wow, just WOW I am very very inspired. You wouldn’t happen to have a 4 day segment would you? I am planning an adventure with my last big summer with my oldest son next year. I have been getting the books – getting in shape etc. etc. I am an old army grunt who still likes the outdoors and feel that Glacier would be one hec of an adventure. The challenge I am having is making SURE that there is fly fishing opportunities along the way. I know it’s early for next year but looking to get my map and form submitted timely.

  6. […] a route! So one of the funniest parts of the preparation was deciding a route. I used hike734‘s writeup on great 3 day hikes  to get some good ideas, and spent a lot of time looking at […]

  7. WOW!!! Wish I would have come across this site 2 months ago. Still stuck on the daunting task of what to submit for Permits. This helps immensely! Thank you

  8. Hi, love your website and all the useful information. We are planning a visit to Glacier right after Labor Day this fall. We are putting in for the lottery. Our first trip choice is an in and out from Lake McDonald up to Sperry and Lake Ellen Wilson and back out. But we also want to put in a second option as we know how hard it is to get your first choice. We can’t decide between 1) going from Goat Haunt up towards Hole in the Wall and back out or 2) going in from Chief Mtn. towards Glen Lake and out. Any thoughts? There is so much to see in Glacier but we are limited due to the shuttle system being shut down.

    1. So are you looking for a 3 day/2 night trip then?

      1. adkkeg Avatar

        Hi Jake, 3 nights.

        1. I’m sooo sorry for not responding! I would try for Hole-in-the-Wall as it’s way more epic.

  9. Stephanie Symms Avatar
    Stephanie Symms

    Love this! Being from Texas and not knowing how to do this, what would you suggest? It would need to be a July trip for us. We are planning a 2016 summer trip, to give us time to train with packs. Would like a trip that would not have a lot of snow, and being able to leave after day 3, grab a shuttle back to our car, so we can grab a hotel, restock, and then do another 2-3 day hike elsewhere. Would love any and all suggestions! is my email.

    1. Hello Stephanie! I’ve shot you back an email. 😉

      1. Great site, Jake! My wife and I would be looking for a similar route with a similar timetable (late July 2016). We will be coming from the east and after 3ish days (2 nights camping) in Glacier, heading north towards Lake Louise BC. We are in good shape, both with a fair amount of backcountry experience and are not averse to snow. We would very much appreciate any suggestions? Also, any recommendations on an interesting place to stay the night before we head out that will make it easier for us to get out early?

        1. Hello John! The first piece of advice will always be to keep an eye on snowpack as that can affect what’s open. Late July is right at the cusp of everything being open… low snowpack such as this past year is good for everything being open.

          As you can tell by the list I have above, there are a bunch of different options. I think you would be well served to pick a couple of areas that you would like to explore and create a sublist of hikes within there. Usually, your trip is more determined by what’s available. I’m a huge fan of the loop in Many Glacier that includes Poia Lake, Elizabeth Lake and then back out for a quick trip. Make it longer by hitting up Elizabeth Lake and exploring Helen or heading up the Mokowanis drainage. You can always start at the Belly River trailhead and working your way over Stoney Indian Pass and come out via boat in Canada… or hike up that way. For a slower option, do the Dawson-Pitamakan Loop in three days.

          Is there anything in particular you’d like to see?

  10. Hi Jake,

    Thanks for your wonderful site. We’re planning on visiting Glacier for the first time in July 4th, 2015, so we’d like to book ahead :-). We’re looking for a 2-3 day backpacking trip that will be beautiful, but will most likely also be open that early in the summer. Probably not more than 20 miles total. Any suggestions?

  11. Hi Jake,
    So happy to find this site – many thanks.
    My daughter already made a flight reservation so we are committed (before I really knew what was involved.)(son and I live in CO) and I have to get our BP application form in.

    Son, daughter and I want to do a 3 night backpack trip – July 21,22 and 23.
    She’s flying into Glacier Park airport on the 20th. Flies out 24th – early evening.

    Would LOVE any suggestions (I’m feeling overwhelmed by the size and options)
    *prefer a loop *like lakes * passes rather than peaks * daily segments 10 miles or less *hope to get a feel for the area rather than do a macho-push trip

    Many thanks for any advice or recommendations.


    1. hike734 Avatar

      Don’t worry about trying to get your backcountry permit in as most of the trips are pretty booked for advanced reservation. Watch my Walk-in Backcountry Permits blog as it will give you some advice on how to do that. For three days, one of my favorite recommendations is some combination of the Belly River and Mokowanis River drainages in the far northeast corner of the park. Perhaps hiking into Glenns Lake Foot the first day, then day hiking up to Stoney Indian Pass, spend another night at Glenns, then hike to Helen Lake, then hike out. Something along those lines would be super sweet. I’m a big fan of the “two nights in one place” kind of backpacking so you can explore without tent/stove/fuel/food/sleeping bag/etc. Basically, you’ll need to have a few different options when you go into the backcountry office and you should be fine. Another option would be to start or end in Two Medicine and work your way to No Name Lake, Morningstar Lake, then either head back via Old Man Lake or move camp slightly to Atlantic Creek and then day hike up to Triple Divide Pass. Hope that gets you a bit started.

      1. Thanks for the note Jake.

        Appreciate the suggestions and the advice not to sweat it as I was getting a bit anxious.
        LOVE the map – lots of work in it that makes it a very helpful tool!

  12. Jeremy Avatar

    Hey, I was informed of this website and found it to be extremely resourceful. My brother and I planned to do a summer hiking expedition without doing much research and we excitedly booked our vacation and flights. Now, I wished we researched more on best time to go because we will be traveling there late June (24-28th). Seeing that most of the backcountry hiking, passes and high elevation trails are not open until later July and August, I’m hoping you could offer this idiot some ideas for multi-day backcountry hikes for late June. Your input would be valuable and helpful!


    1. hike734 Avatar

      I think that you may be in luck this year with the low snowpack. Some places like Hole-in-the-Wall won’t be accessible still as we’re not that ahead of schedule, but I think quite a bit will be open. Are there a few places you had in mind?

      1. Jeremy Saling Avatar
        Jeremy Saling

        Thanks for the responses and news! We were looking at several hikes going from Kintla Lake to Brown pass and down to Bowman lake or Kintla to Goat Haunt. The other one we considered is the gunsight pass trails. Then seeing how the pass might be difficult due to snowy condition, it became challenging to find a 30-mile three day hike through Glacier. Any suggestions or what to look for would be helpful.

        1. hike734 Avatar

          I’d look at maybe hiking to Helen Lake the first day, Mokowanis Lake the second day and out through Waterton the last day and shuttle back to Chief Mountain. Remember to bring your passport! The other two options you said you were interested in might just be too snowy like you mentioned. The alternative to my option would be to come out back to Chief Mountain if Stoney Indian Pass was inaccessible. But you could do a little day scramble up there to see what it looked like until the snow was too much.

  13. Jake: what is the chance of this coming Sunday through next Saturday, getting a 3 or 4 nighter that includes: (REF or REH), to Triple Divide to (ATL or MOR), to (OLD or over Dawson to NON), and finish at TMC?

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Hello Frank! Keep checking for what is coming up and available. As of today, the first couple stops look really good. I can’t see past that. Just remember to go in to a backcountry office first thing on Saturday morning if you can to get your permit. Check the availability on Friday night so you know what trips are there still. Also remember that you can do that trip backwards and it is fantastic that way as well!

  14. Jacob and Jamie Bessberger Avatar
    Jacob and Jamie Bessberger

    Hi Jake,

    After having looked around for good info on Glacier for months we finally came across your site. Thank you so much!

    We are going on a 3 or 4 day hike in the second week of August and just wanted your opinion about two or three trips we could make. We especially want your opinion on the ongoing fires and closures in the park. Do you think there is a chance that we won’t be able to make it into the park?

    As for your recommendations, since we will be walking in without a reservation we are looking for two or three options. We are driving in from Seattle so potentially are looking for trails that start from the west. We will try to get the permits very early in the day. We are looking for something quite physically challenging but not technically challenging (no ropes etc.). We would like a route that is diverse and offers significant vertical gain.

    We have seen your recommendations of the Highline, Two Medicine and the Belly to other people. Do any of those routes match our wishes?

    Thanks for the advice.

    Jacob and Jamie

    1. hike734 Avatar

      You’ll definitely be able to get into the Park! Number one, even when things were the most “closed” most of the Park was still open.

      In regards to getting a walk-in permit, make sure you watch my video on walk-in permits so that you can give yourself the best possible chance.

      I would strongly consider trying to get a permit that would allow you to get into the Boulder Pass/Hole-in-the-Wall area. I would come in via Bowman Lake as it’s a nicer walk than Kintla (even though the Upper Kintla campground is quite nice). From Boulder Pass, Boulder Peak is a pretty straightforward scramble to a summit. That would be my first recommendation. I would also consider the Belly River area, specifically looking into the Mokowanis Drainage. Stoney Indian Pass is exceptional. I don’t think you’ll have time to do the Northern Circle, even if you got the permits. Honorable mentions would be hiking up to Sperry campground and spending a day going up to the Glacier (maybe summiting Gunsight Mountain), evening climb up to Lincoln Peak, maybe hitting up Lake Ellen Wilson if you are lucky enough to get that with a day stroll up to Gunsight Pass.

      1. Jacob and Jamie Bessberger Avatar
        Jacob and Jamie Bessberger

        Hi Jake,

        Thanks so much for the quick and detailed response!

        Since one of us is in the process of getting a green card, we cannot leave the US and enter Canada. Does that eliminate your suggestion of Chief Mountain Customs to Mokowanis Drainage and then Stoney Indian Pass? We would end up at Goat Haunt at have to cross the border right?

        Could you say a little more about the:
        Chief Mountain trailhead to Slide Lake(8)
        to Cosley Lake (8)
        to Chief Mountain trailhead (8.5)
        Would we park our car at Chief Mountain Trailhead? And then walk along the Mountain International Highway until we reach the trail to Slide Lake? Is that easy to find?

        Alternatively, with the current fire situation do you think we could do the:
        Logan Pass to Granite Park via Highline (~8)
        to Many Glacier over Swiftcurrent (~8)
        over Piegan Pass to Siyeh Bend (12.5)
        We have heard that the road between Logan Pass and Siyeh Bend is closed due to the fires. So is that option not possible? How would we get from Siyeh Bend to Logan Pass?

        Thanks again. This is so helpful!
        Jacob and Jamie

        1. hike734 Avatar

          Yes, you would enter Canada at that point after Goat Haunt. Another option would be two days at Cosley. The first day would be getting to camp, the second would be exploring up to Stoney Indian and the last day you could wake up, climb to Bear Mountain Point, break camp and head out.

          Yes, you’d park at the Chief Mountain trailhead. I’d actually first park at the Lee Ridge trailhead, unload everything, then have the driver go down and part the car and walk back so you didn’t have to haul everything…. it’s a pretty short walk. The trailhead is right before the sign that says something like 1/4 mile to customs.

          Yeah, the Logan Pass all the way around to Siyeh Bend won’t work at this time because of the fire. I’d still also have you consider Hole-in-the-Wall/Boulder Pass area. 😉

          1. Hi Jake,

            Thanks for the recs. I think top of our list now is some Belly river combination (depending on availability – maybe Elizabeth, maybe Slide). However, we would like to have multiple options in case we are not able to get reservations in the morning.

            The boulder/hole-in-the-wall option looks good too. To avoid backtracking what do you think about this option?

            Bowman Lake to Hole-in-the-Wall (15)
            to Upper Kintla (8)
            to Kintla Lake (10.5)

            Do you think it’s easy to hitch a ride from Kintla to Bowman afterwards? In the video it sounded like you are not that fond of Kintla. – Should we just backtrack out of Bowman?

            It’s a little frustrating that we are challenged by not being able to enter Canada – and by the fires in the east. We would even consider a 4 day trip if that would allow us to fully enjoy the diversity of the park. What do you think about this idea?:

            Bowman Lake to Lake Francis (~15)
            to Fifty Mountain (~13)
            to Granite Park via Highline (12)
            to Logan Pass (~8)

            Only challenge is then to shuttle back from Logan Pass to whereever we park our car. Do you have a suggestion?

            Sorry for all the questions – it is really hard to do research and figuring out what’s possible.

            Jacob & Jamie

          2. Jamie and Jacob Avatar
            Jamie and Jacob

            Hi Jake,

            Thanks for the recs. I think top of our list now is some Belly river combination (depending on availability – Cosley, maybe Elizabeth, maybe Slide). However, we would like to have multiple options in case we are not able to get reservations in the morning.

            The boulder/hole-in-the-wall option looks good too. To avoid backtracking what do you think about this option?

            Bowman Lake to Hole-in-the-Wall (15)
            to Upper Kintla (8)
            to Kintla Lake (10.5)

            Do you think it’s easy to hitch a ride from Kintla to Bowman afterwards? In the video it sounded like you are not that fond of Kintla. – Should we just backtrack out of Bowman?

            It’s a little frustrating that we are challenged by not being able to enter Canada – and by the fires in the east. We would even consider a 4 day trip if that would allow us to fully enjoy the diversity of the park. What do you think about this idea?:

            Bowman Lake to Lake Francis (~15)
            to Fifty Mountain (~13)
            to Granite Park via Highline (12)
            to Logan Pass (~8)

            Only challenge is then to shuttle back from Logan Pass to where ever we park our car. Do you have a suggestion?

            Sorry for all the questions – it is really hard to do research and figuring out what’s possible.

            Jacob & Jamie

  15. Matt Boepple Avatar
    Matt Boepple

    Thanks for your site. Great information. We are heading out there the last week of July/first week of August 2016. Our background: we will have 8-12 backpackers, a few of us have 25 nights plus in each of the last few years in the backcountry (North Carolina, Virginia, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc.), the rest will be middle of the road skill level, all of us are in great shape and will have the best light weight gear, and prepared for any weather. We are an adventuresome BSA Troop and are all about “Leave No Trace.” Any suggestions on a four day loop, and then followed by a two day loop (or 5 day and overnighter)? We would like to maximize hikes that have altitude (views), alpine lakes, wildlife, and solitude. But we are not above doing the tourist thing to see something memorable. We like miles and steep climbs. We train on a local mountain out here, the Black Mountain Range, were we get 4,000 feet of elevation gain in 5 miles. A concern, and where I could use some help, is last year in Yellowstone and the Tetons (12 of us), it was hard to get campsites near each other (we had to separate many nights and hike 3-4 miles each way on spurs to get backcountry campsites) so any suggestions would be great.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Yikes! That IS a big group. My guess is that you’ll have to plan on that again if you do epic loops like the Northern Circle. Most campsites are made so that it feels like you’re in the backcountry and not front country camping. If you all want to stay together, I think your best bet would be the Coal/Nyack Loop. It wouldn’t be my first choice for all of the scenic views, but it’s beautiful and great wilderness (of course, the fire in there is currently reshaping it, so it’ll be interesting to see what it ends up looking like). Other options would be starting at Kintla and ending up at Bowman via Boulder Pass or vice versa. Once again, not sure if you would be able to camp together in that scenario. Shuttles are a problem between those two lakes, but with larger groups, you probably will have more than one vehicle to shuttle.

  16. Jake – Great site, exactly what I’m looking for. I’m leading a group of 6 relatively experienced backpackers for a trip in early August 2016. We are looking for a 4-nighter and were considering something with Boulder Pass, but there are so many amazing options in GNP that it’s overwhelming. Any recommendations for a 5-day / 4-night trip?

    Most of my backpacking experience is in the desert, so I’m excited to not have to haul gallons upon gallons of water.

    1. Ha! I wouldn’t understand what you were talking about until backpacking down in Zion. I guess I took it for granted that there is water all over the place in Glacier. Just remember to have a filter as a good practice.

      In regards to suggestions about 4-5 day trips, have you looked at my extended trips blog? That is a great place to start. Watch both of those videos first, then feel free to drop me a line!

      1. Thanks, Jake. We’re looking at the Northern Traverse but the logistics are going to eat up a day of our precious time getting to/from Chief Mountain and/or the boat from Waterton to Goat Haunt. So, am thinking about dropping a car at KLE, getting a ride to the Going-to-the-Sun Road to PRE/LTE trailhead.

        For the hike, my initial thoughts starting from Loop Trail or Packers Roost trailhead to FIF > JAN > HOL > UPK > Kintla Lake parking area. The question is which route to take the first day – via the Continental Divide Trail from LRE or from PRE through the Lake McDonald area?

        I really want to do COS > STO > HOL > UPK, but again, the logistics are daunting.

  17. Jake,
    I am trying to plan a 5 day back country hike for 3-4 guys. I have done the Two Medicine area in the past and this time I would like to try the Goat haunt ..Hole in the wall.. Area.
    1) can you give me a suggestion for a 5 day hike (would a hike of GLF/STO/GOA/BRO/KIN) be good?

    2) how would I get back to the Gable Creek entry point from Kintla lake?

    Thank for any and all help

    1. Jake I saw your videos after this post…sorry

      I think the Northern Circle is the path I will try to book

      Love the page

      1. That’s definitely a great route. I’d still look at alternatives as some of the campsites involved are very difficult. As to you original questions, You may try a route where you start at Chief Mountain, then work your way up to Hole-in-the-Wall, then work you way back to Goat Haunt and take the boat, then a shuttle back to the border. You’ll need a passport for that, but that would be a sweet trip! The hard part of the Northern Traverse from Chief Mountain to Kintla is indeed the shuttle. It’s usually done by having friends drive or by a key swap.

        1. So you are talking maybe a trip like:
          1)MOKO Lake or junc
          2)KOOTENAI lake
          3,4)Then Two Nights at Hole in the wall or Brown Pass.(we could do some day hikes)
          5) GOAT HAUNT
          Out the next day on the boat

          1. Now you’re talking! I would opt for Mokowanis Lake or Glenns Lake Head over the junction as it’s a mundane camp compared to the lake sites. I’d also Stay at Lake Francis over Goat Haunt. If Lake Francis isn’t available, consider Waterton River site. (or even camping along one of the Waterton sites!)

            1. Thanks we will see what happens in about a month when I can register.

              If getting in wasn’t a question… Would you rather do the Goat haunt Hole in the wall hike

              The northern circle ?

              1. I think that your question is like asking a parent which child they like better! I might lean towards the Northern Circle because you aren’t retracing steps, but there is more solitude with the Goat Haunt hike.

                1. well I got the reverse of the Northern Circle

                  pretty excited … seems like the first two days will be harder… but then the last few get easier.

                  1. hike734 Avatar

                    Nice! The first few days will be more difficult, but you’ll be fresh and the scenery will easily keep you moving along. 😀

  18. Steve S. Avatar

    Hi Jake,
    First off, thank you for creating such an amazing site! It has really helped us plan our trip out to glacier for this summer. With that said, my girlfriend and I have waited to the last minute to submit for our permit, and it is slim pickings for camp grounds. We are looking to pack a 3-4 night trip in late Aug/ first week Sept, and have found the following open:

    A. Redgap to Poi, to ELF, to MAN and back to the car

    B. TwoMed to OLD, to ATL, to REF or REH, to St. Marys.

    C. Bowman LK to BOW, to BRO, to UPK, UPK to Kinta lk trail head (this seem like the most difficult for transportation,

    I would sincerely appreciate any insight or recommendations on which/ which not to submit for. Im leaning towards B based on your Video of the area, but am seeking suggestions. Thanks so much!

    My best,
    Steve S.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Hello Steve! Here are my thoughts:
      A. You can’t come have MAN be your first or last campsite, so it won’t work how you have it. Consider looking for another night in the Belly/Mokowanis (HEL, COS, GLF, GLH) and come out at Chief Mountain and pay for the GPI shuttle back to Many. Super great trip!
      B. This one is also amazing. I think I’d go for this one, start out on the boat across Two Medicine, up to Dawson Pass, around Pitamakan Pass to your camp. The second day, when you get to ATL, consider day hiking to Medicine Grizzly Lake (keep your eyes looking in the avalanche chutes for moose!).
      C. Transportation is wonky up there and you’ll spend some frustrating hours trying to hitchhike most likely. Unless you have a plan in place, skip this one…. Although if you can get HOL, this trip is worth the out and back!

      I’d just submit the first two on the itinerary (with my changes to A) with B being first and A being second just in case!

    2. Katelyn Avatar

      Hi Jake, AWESOME site, thanks for the great info! Steve, were you able to get any of your requests? We are doing bowman to kintla mid-august and are trying to figure out the ride situation 🙂

      1. hike734 Avatar

        That’s always the toughest part of that hike. I almost think you might want to try and park at the turn by Bowman Lake Road (check with the park service to make sure you can), then hitchhike into Bowman Lake in the morning when people are going in. Then, when you get out in the afternoon at Kintla, people are leaving Kintla and getting to your car would be easier. The big problem with hitchhiking when you are at either lake is getting back up the road in the evening as most people are either already there or leaving).

  19. Steve S. Avatar

    Hi Jake,
    Thank you for your swift response and suggestions. We just submitted all our itineraries and have our fingers crossed! Look forward to following more of your adventures.

    My best,
    Steve S

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Let me know how it turns out!

      1. Steve S. Avatar
        Steve S.

        Hi Jake!

        Thanks for your help before. We successfully scored permits for our trip this September. We will be Starting at Two MED, to OLD, to ATL, to REH, to St. Mary. It would be my girlfriend and I hiking. Any concerns/ suggestions for such a small group in back country with bears? We keep reading how we should travel in a larger group, but wanted your advice based on experience.

        We will be parking our car at St. Mary, and taking the shuttle to Two Medicine. Downside is that it will get us there by 11AM. We were hoping of taking the Dawson pass route over Pitamakan, but are unsure if this is our best option with such a late start. Also would have to hike down the switchback to OLD, and back up the next day Any thoughts on this?

        Lastly, are these routes typically crowded, or have a remote feel? We were not sure if we would be following large groups/ in crowded camp sites.

        Once again, thank you soo much for your help and support!

        My best,
        Steve S.

        1. hike734 Avatar

          I love your trip! As far as bears go, I don’t see any problem with what you’re doing. Rent bear spray at Glacier Outfitters before you head out on the trail if you don’t have any. Stay alert, make noise, etc. This is part of one of my favorite day hikes. I would try and do the section from Dawson Pass down to Pitamakan. I know it’s more effort, but it’s worth it. I’m not sure what the day length is by then, but that’s your biggest foe. You could always set up camp, then day hike up towards Dawson Pass. It’s worth it to get the view over to a place we call Pitamakan Overlook near Cutbank Pass. This section of trail should be much quieter than other sections… especially in September. You’ll see people doing the Pitamakan-Dawson loop and others hiking to Triple Divide, but for the most part, it will be pretty quiet.

  20. Bryan Street Avatar
    Bryan Street

    Hi Jake,

    We are a family with 2 teenagers looking to do a 4 day backpack with 2 nights in one site. We are trying for 6 miles or less in one day and not extreme amounts of elevation gain. Looking at what’s still available for our dates in late July, we could do the trip from bowman lake to Quartz lake, then lower Quartz and back to Bowman. What’s the elevation gain for this trip? Which of the two campsites Would you recommend staying at for two nights? Is there a good day hike from one of those sites?

    Another option could be to hike into Hawkins and do day hikes from there.


    Thank you in advance. Your site Is excellent.


    1. hike734 Avatar

      I think hiking into Quartz is a fine hike. I’d stay at Quartz Lake and then day hike to Lower Quartz. Go back out the same way you came in as it’s a lot more friendly on the elevation if you’ve already day hiked to the other two lakes. I think you’re referring to Hawksbill which is a site that I don’t like. I would get the Quartz Lake site and plan for a couple of others. Watch my blog on walk-in permits to see how to plan for that. You can always get a different route to something that you might rather have such as Cosley or Elizabeth Lake or even Gable Creek) with multiple day hikes from there.

      1. Bryan Street Avatar
        Bryan Street

        Thank you. That’s great advice. We were planning to try for a walkup somewhere else with Quartz being our safety.

        Given our parameters (sixish max miles in a day. 3 nights with two nights in one place, not much elevation gain,) can you recommend a hike to try for? We will use the process you outline in your blog for walk up permits, it’s very helpful. you suggested Cosby or Elizabeth Lake or Gabel – do those fit? Thanks again, I really appreciate your knowledge.


        1. hike734 Avatar

          You can’t stay at Elizabeth for two nights and Cosley will also be difficult. Gable isn’t my favorite campsite, but it does give you great access to day hiking up to the Belly River and Mokowanis drainages, so I’d think about that one. Another cool trip might involve heading up to Waterton and taking the boat down (you’ll obviously need passports) and stay at Lake Francis and/or Kootenai Lakes. Both are sweet.

    2. Steve S. Avatar
      Steve S.

      Thanks again, Jake! Much appreciated! Hope you have some great trips planned out this summer.


  21. hi I’m headed to glacier about the third week of june an was wondering what are some good high altitude three day hikes to do there that time of year.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Things are opening up pretty fast, but snow still sticks around at passes and such creating some dangerous patches. The only high altitude one that I can recommend off the top of my head would probably be doing Poia Lake and then out Chief Mountain. You’ll then shuttle with GPI. When you’re actually in the backcountry office, they’ll know a bit more.

  22. Katelyn Avatar

    Hi Steve,
    We are doing bowman to Kintla mid-august. Any suggestions on who/where to pre-arrange rides/car swaps? Thanks!

  23. Marie-Claude Provost Avatar
    Marie-Claude Provost

    hi! thank you so much for this information, exactly what I was looking for.
    Question: I would love to have your app to look at the maps on my Mac. I have Avenza on my iPad which is great, but the screen is too small :-). Any help to get the App would be fantastic. Thanks again! Marie-Claude (From Québec), going to Montana this summer 😀

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Which app are you talking about? I only have videos and this website, but maybe I’m misunderstanding you!

      1. Marie-Claude Provost Avatar
        Marie-Claude Provost

        sorry! must be my French 😉 in your video where you describe all the three day backpacking options, you show maps on you computer screen. it looks like you are using an app on your Mac to display the maps. hope this makes more sense 🙂 thank you again!

        1. hike734 Avatar

          Ha! I see what you are talking about now (and I’m the one who feels silly now!) Yes, I used the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Explorer app. I’m not sure it’s a current title any more actually. You can look for it at your local hiking shop or on Amazon or something. The other option would be to go to or something like that. They also do trail profiles. One last one that I’m working with as well would be which is the source for the REI national parks app. Hope that helps a bit!

        2. hike734 Avatar

          Lastly, you can just go old school with a map and get my day hikes map which is an excellent topo map with distances between junctions as well as a way to see how steep a trail is. I also have campsite codes which aides in planning. 😉

          1. Marie-Claude Provost Avatar
            Marie-Claude Provost

            thank you ! I will look into all those options. Did order maps from NG (I love maps), but I’m impatient to start doing some hard planning 🙂 and “sell” my backpacking idea to my companions.
            Again thank you, hope we see you somewhere along the trails!
            PS: I’m also looking at Flathead NF for options. if you know of a good source to find direction for three day backpacking trips there, that would be awesome.

  24. Hey Jake, thank you for the helpful information! My friend and I are going to Glacier in late June. For our first hike, I was thinking it would be more convenient to shuttle to Chief Mountain, then hike back toward Many Glacier, doing nights at Cosley, Elizabeth, and Poia Lakes. Do you think going one direction or the other is preferable?

    Also, what’s the best way to track on the opening of the Going to the Sun Road?

    1. hike734 Avatar

      I agree with getting the shuttle out of the way first. That way you can relax knowing that you’re hiking to your car, not a clock. Either way is going to be fantastic. Going the way that you are planning has a lovely walk out instead of the climb out of the Belly River drainage. If you go the other way, when you climb over Redgap Pass, there is a moment of taking your breath away that is pretty special. I might lean towards heading north, but either way is a win.

      As far as tracking the opening of the road, the park keeps it pretty close to its vest as it’s a big deal and they don’t want to have to explain why they are going back on their prediction to angry crowds. I would keep an eye on the road status page, but even moreso, probably check the Daily Interlake newspaper and maybe follow one of the Flathead Beacon reporters on Twitter if that’s your thing. Oh and both of those papers should mention something on Facebook, but you’ll have to check. My plan, as usual is to run up there and get a blog in by the afternoon. I’ll try and let people know I’m heading up.

      1. We decided to do the hike heading south so we wouldn’t have to worry about shuttling on the way out. I see what you mean about the breathtaking moment coming over Redgap Pass from the south side, but it was pretty cool to look north and see the drainage that we had come up. Also, hiking south makes the Chief Mountain to Cosley stretch amazing, as you’re moving through meadows closer and closer to the mountains!

        1. hike734 Avatar

          I agree! I also hate coming out of the Belly River. Uphill through the trees at the end of a hike. 😀

  25. Allison Avatar

    Hi Jake! what a sweet website, thank you! Spontaneous Fourth of July weekend (I know, I know… early and crowded…) roadtrip/backpack to Glacier. Husband, wife and 16 month old. Would like to travel 12-24 miles 3 day/2 night trip. Suggestions? Thanks!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Belly River! Lots of level hiking with options to get up if you want. You can’t go wrong with any site that has the word “lake” in the campsite.

  26. We’re attending a wedding in the end of May near Glacier National, and decided to make a week of it. Would it be insane to try to backpack in the late spring? Should we stick to day trips?

    1. The good news is that you won’t have to get reservations, so you can play it by ear. That being said, I’d be surprised if there were great trips to be had then. I’d plan on day hiking for the most part.

      1. Jake – glad to see you’re still at it! Looking at August – North Fork. KLE-KIN-UPK-BOU-HOL-BRO-BOW-BLE. Hopefully overnight at HOL and somewhere else.Not sure which direction would be better (inclined toward as laid out above, but open to…). Suggestions on how to break this one up?

        1. Hello Gregg! I’m not as big a fan of the Kintla side (with the exception of Upper Kintla Lake which I LOVE!) so I’d consider getting to UPK and skip KIN if you want. It’s a slog up to BOU, but as you get closer, it gets amazing! From there out to Browns Pass, you can just hang out in those campgrounds and be happy (especially HOL). I would probably go the route you suggested as you’ll be fresh to go up and down the ridge which the Kintla trail inexplicably does. Then you can cruise out along Bowman Lake which is more level and stays near the lake more. Not sure how much that helps.

      2. Thanks so much! This blog is super helpful!

        1. No problem!

  27. Neely morin Avatar
    Neely morin

    We are trying to plan a trip for late July or early August. Wanting to spend 2-3 nights in the backcountry. What would your top two routes be, and what would be the most scenic campgrounds? We’ve day hiked 24 miles before but would prefer to keep it to 10ish with the heavier packs. we want to do the most scenic route as possible. Thanks so much. Your site is wonderful

    1. hike734 Avatar

      First of all, you’re going to need a few options as you may or may not be able to get your first choice. My favorite campground is Fifty Mountain followed closely by Hole-in-the-Wall. The trick is that Fifty Mountain usually is part of a longer trip and Hole-in-the-Wall isn’t the most scenic until you get in the alpine (although Bowman Lake is beautiful on the way there). You may be able to start at Logan Pass, then go to GRN, then FIF, then back out through either FLT or GRN. Hole-in-the-Wall could be done as BOW-HOL-BRN or BOW on the way back.

      Other trips that I think make for better shorter hikes are starting in Many Glacier and hiking to Poia Lake, then over to Elizabeth Lake, then back out… or in reverse. You can stay at either Elizabeth Lake foot or head. Make it one day longer and visit Helen Lake and stay there.

      I also would consider employing shuttles through GPI (see my blog on shuttles) and go from Two Medicine to St. Mary or from Many Glacier to Chief Mountain and visit Cosley Lake on one of your nights.

      The thing about it is that the campsites are competitive, so you’ll want to have a few trips in your pocket if you don’t get your advanced reservation permit for your first choice, you have to do walk-in because you don’t get any of them, or your advanced permit gets cancelled because one part of your route is closed.

      Hope that helps somewhat!

      1. Neely morin Avatar
        Neely morin

        Thanks so much for your response. I think we are going to try to start at chief mountain and end at goat haunt. Probably try to stay at cosley lake the first night.

        1. Stoney Indian Pass might not be passable, but you’ll find that out when you pick up your permit. A trip to Cosley Lake the first day, then a morning climb to Bear Mountain Point, then move camp to Mokowanis Lake and then get up as high as you can in the Stoney Basin would be sweet, then move over to the Elizabeth Lake/Helen Lake area, then out would be a sweet backpacking trip with level days with heavy packs and great access to high places.

          1. Neely morin Avatar
            Neely morin

            Oh wow. So Stoney Indian may still be closed in August? Will definitely need to keep that in mind. If it is open….would a hike from Stoney Indian to lake Francis be possible or would that be too much in a day? We routinely do day hikes up to 20+ mile range. I just hate to not see hole in the wall.

            1. Dang, I might have gotten your request confused with someone else. Stoney should be accessible by then. You may encounter some old snow, but it should be passable by then. Like I said before, however, is to make sure that you have a couple of trips in your back pocket. Trail closures, late snow, fires, etc can wrinkle your plans and it’s good to have something else to go on instead of scrambling at the last minute. 😀

  28. Would you recommend any of these 3 day hikes for mid June? we are looking to take our first trip to Glacier this June.

    1. Your biggest issue will be going over passes. The only pass that really opens up earlier is Redgap Pass which may or may not be open… who knows until we get there! When you arrive, you can confirm with park service to see what is and what isn’t passable. Assuming it is, here are a couple of options:

      1. Anything that goes from Apikuni Flats to Poia and out via Chief Mountain
      2. Entering and exiting via Chief Mountain… both drainages are amazing to explore!
      3. Upper Two Medicine and No Name Lake could be open and that might let you day hike to Dawson Pass

      Those would be my first choices that early. Overnighters would also include Red Eagle Lake, maybe Gunsight Lake (big maybe, but if it’s open you may be able to link the two together) and Bowman Lake.

  29. I’ll be taking my first trip to Glacier this June. We’ll be there from June 21-26. We wanted to do Gunsight Pass but it looks like Sperry is closed till July. Any other 3 day trips you might recommend? Thanks!

    1. Hello Chris! June is a really tough month to do a lot of backpacking. Gunsight Pass will be super buried still (and really dangerous with steep snowy aspects draining to precipitous cliffs). Your best bet will be heading into the Belly River and Mokowanis River drainages. From there, you’ll be able to explore any high country that has opened up, but aren’t committing to a campsite. You should have no problem getting a permit. The folks in the backcountry office should be able to help you out. On route that might be great would be to start at Many Glacier and go to Poia Lake, then to Elizabeth Lake, then out via Chief Mountain. You’ll need a shuttle for that trip. Check out my shuttles blog for more info.

  30. Jordan Ryan Avatar
    Jordan Ryan

    This amazing and just what we needed! We’re planning to go in mid-August this year for a 3 day trip. Does Gunsight Pass get very crowded? If it does, is there anything that’s a little more remote and offers just as spectacular of a view? I know you gave a lot of alternatives but they’re a LOT (which is great!). Just was wondering if you’d narrow it down to any itineraries in particular. Thank you!!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      All of the campsites in the park are limited, so they don’t tend to be “crowded”, but most routes that you’re describing will end up being fully booked. If you’re looking for more remote with views, once you get north of Granite Park Chalet on the Highline Trail, it gets much quieter. The Belly River area is quiet as is Hole-in-the-Wall/Boulder Pass area. All of these areas feature great alpine sections that are less busy.

  31. Luke Newton Avatar
    Luke Newton

    Wow Jake, you have something really special with this site! So glad I came across it!

    I’ve got my flights booked and planning on somewhere between July 6th – 14th. Just waiting to get permits and need your help.

    Right now, looking at getting there and camping on Saturday (8th) or Sunday (9th) and then heading into the back country for at least 3 nights ideally. I’ll have a buddy with me and we can both take cars if needed. I am turning 40 (the reason for crossing this off the bucket list) not in the greatest shape (yet) but not new to backpacking. Both of us have bum backs so it will be slower going.

    What I’m really looking for is just the amazing “wake up in a postcard” views. Also hoping to avoid any floods of people so hoping the week after July 4th and during weekdays will help.

    All that to ask, where would you go if you were me? 🙂

    1. hike734 Avatar

      I think that the “waking up to postcard views” part will be easy. The snowpack looks pretty high this year, so not sure how much of the high country will be open when you arrive, so sites like Gunsight Pass and some along the Northern Highline won’t be open, but I’d look at trips going from Two Medicine to St. Mary as well as the Belly River. Later in the summer, everything is open which makes it more overwhelming. What I like about doing the Belly River for you is that you can get to any one of the lakes in the Mokowanis drainage or the Belly River drainage, then do hikes up into elevation with day packs such as hiking up to Bear Mountain Point from Cosley Lake.

      Regardless of what you apply for, you may need to tweak things when you show up. I always think it’s a good idea to brush up on the walk-in permits blog to make sure you’re prepared for alternatives when you show up.

      Anyway, I would probably focus on something like COS-MOL-ELF or some permutation of that in the Belly River area or OLD-ATL-REF.

      1. Luke Newton Avatar
        Luke Newton

        Jake, thanks for the help!

        I put in a bunch of variations of the Belly River trail on opening day for reservations – after I read up on the area it sounded perfect. I’m tempted to bring the fishing pole now 🙂 I also picked up your map, really looking forward to the trip and super appreciative of your guidance. Seriously, thanks man.

        1. Luke Newton Avatar
          Luke Newton

          Update – got Chief Mountain to GLF, ELF, HEL, and COS. Super excited!

          One question for you…we are doing the GTTS road to St. Mary campground our first day and doing a couple small day hikes that day off the road in between (Virginia Falls and Hidden Lake Overlook) . Out of an abundance of caution I got 2 nights at St Mary. Would you forego GLF and instead take that day in Many Glacier (Grinnel, Iceberg, Ptarmigan, etc) then go pick up at ELF the next day from Chief Mountain (essentially the same miles)?

          I only have 5 days and want to make sure I don’t miss anything too epic. However I don’t want to disrespect the backcountry permit gods because I am thrilled with the itinerary. Curious to your thoughts and thanks again!

          1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
            Jacob Bramante

            I think your trip will be really fun. I’m not sure that you can change an itinerary like that. Those sites are reserved for you, however, so you may be able to ask the park service to have you start on the second night… do it when you get here. If you end up doing that trip, I would get to camp and set up. If you have time either that evening or the next morning, head up further up the valley to the Stoney Indian area. It’s pretty ridiculous.

  32. Any idea as to where I can find elevation and difficulty for the legs of these trips. Would be happy to purchase

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Kirk, your best bet would be my day hike map. On it I have two things that are helpful. The first are topo lines which are pretty standard fare for maps these days. The second is that I’ve broke the trails up into small segments and calculated the slope. I’ve then color coordinated them green for level (0-5 degrees), yellow for moderate (5-15 degrees), and red for steep (15+ degrees) using the Mountain Biking Association’s recommendations as a guide. I don’t have elevation profiles for every leg or every route at this point, but I think that those two should get your where you need to go.

  33. Hey there! My husband and I are visiting the park memorial day weekend and are wanting to do a 2 night backpacking trip. Will it still be snow packed around that time?if so, what are the best routes during that time?

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      Thought to tell at this point. Many passes will still have snow, but will hopefully be clearing out. Keep an eye out on the trail status page on the park’s site (Trail Status)) Redgap Pass is a good early season pass. You may end up spending time in the Belly River/Mokowanis River areas as well. Like I said though, the trail status page and the backcountry office will have a great idea. You’ll have some options though for sure!

  34. Jacqui Avatar

    Hey there. We recently didn’t get our requested reservations for backcounty camping and basically just are wondering if we should still go without a reservation and take our chances, or move the dates to try to get a different time? It’s our first time out there, so I’m not sure exactly what to do. I know the campsites are 50% walk-in and we’re very flexible with what route we take. Currently we’re planning on going the first week in August, but I was also wondering if the last week in September is too late in the season? Thank you so much for this site. It’s daunting to plan a trip and this site helps immensely.

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      That’s always a tough judgement call. I’ve done most of my reservations via walk-in, but I’ve also usually had a few places in mind. Preparedness and flexibility are key. I love hiking in September, but that month can be fickle… especially towards the end. I would stick with August. It will be busy, but show up at the backcountry office early to get a good spot in line and know what is and isn’t available so you can quickly snag your trip!

  35. Rachel Avatar

    Hey so I am a Canadian going to hike in Glacier. I’m completely unfamiliar with the US parks system and from what I can tell, it varies a bit from Canada’s. We are planning a short trip: looking at either dayhikes, or a 2-night trip in the backcountry. We are planning on going the week after Labour Day. Do you have any tips/suggestions for trails? It’s pretty overwhelming, even to someone accustomed to trail research.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      Check out my day hiking page. I’ve ordered them by my recommendations. You may want to pick up my map as it’s got even more detail and I think you’ll love the map.

  36. Chris Randall Avatar
    Chris Randall

    Hi Jacob, your website is incredibly helpful! I’m looking to do an early season 3-day hike June 23-25th (open to West Glacier as well, but from what I’ve gathered so far, East Glacier around the Many Glacier area is best for this time of year). I’m thinking I’d hike in from Many Glacier to Poia Lake day 1, hike over to Elizabeth Lake day 2 and hike out via Chief Mountain day 3. However, I’m not sure where makes the most sense for parking my car and shuttling around. I’m guessing the easiest would be to park at Many Glacier trailhead, but I read that the GPI shuttle no longer runs up near the border where the Chief Mountain trailhead meets up with Highway 17. Any tips/updates on shuttles that run in that area or am I S.O.L. and left only with hitching my way back to Many Glacier (or wherever I park… if Babb would be the better place to stash the vehicle)?

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      I think your plan sounds great. The shuttle is definitely the frustrating factor. Check out my shuttles page for the Chief Mountain Cab company to get you from Chief back to Many… unless you do your shuttle first and hike to your car. Also keep an eye out on the trail status reports for what’s open as you get closer:

  37. Hi Jake! I messaged you a few months back! I’ll be going to Glacier next week and we’re staying in the backcountry for 2 nights. We were going to enter at Lee Ridge, stay at Slide Lake, Cosley Lake, then exit at Chief Mountain. Apparently, Slide Lake will be closed til late June according to the trail condition webpage. Any idea how this would affect our reservations? If we need any backup plans, do you have any ideas? Thank you!

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      Ugh. Sorry for not getting back with you! Let me know what you ended up working out with the backcountry office!

  38. Helene Avatar

    HI jake
    2 questions:
    I haven’t seen any mention of bear canisters to store food. Is hanging food in a separate bag sufficient?
    And, we have two sites that allow fires. Is it reasonable to expect we will be able to find wood? My sense is that fires are on,y allowed where there is an adequate supply. We are staying in gable creek and goat haunt.

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      You won’t need bear canisters as hanging is sufficient. Bring a separate stuff sack for hanging. If, for some reason, the pole is broken or something like that, the park service has canisters to lend you courtesy of the Glacier Conservancy. In regards to fires, your assumption is correct!

  39. Delaney Avatar

    I’m trying to plan a backpacking trip in Glacier – My brother and I are in our early twenties and my parents are in their early sixties. We are trying to decide between doing Gunsight pass or the Belly River basin area. We have some backpacking experience (did Garibaldi Lake in British Columbia last summer). What would you recommend?

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      Gunsight Pass has more elevation than cruising around in the Belly River area… unless you head over to Stoney Indian. If sore knees are a big concern for some members, I would stick to Belly River and then do day hikes up to cool places like Bear Mountain Point, Stoney Indian basin, Redgap Pass, Ptarmigan Tunnel, or Lee Ridge. Otherwise, Gunsight is an epic trip to remember. Either one is a coin toss for me though. I’m in love with both. (don’t tell them that I said that) 😉

  40. Hi Jake, thanks for your website it is awesome. My brother (60) and I (57) are looking at the 3-day Backcountry trips to the North Fork in late August – either KLE to UPK to HOL to GOA or BLE to BOW to HOL to GOA and according the advanced reservations those sites are booked. So I’m thinking we will have to hit the Polebridge backcountry Permit office early the day before (or day of?) and get a permit(s)??
    Can you shed some insight on that process and likelihood of success? I’d hate to fly all the way up there from STL and then end up with only day hikes…although that wouldn’t be such a bad alternative.
    Also, since we will only have 1 car will it be possible to thumb a ride from someone from GOA back to our starting point, or do you have any other suggestions for us?
    Your insight would be very appreciated.

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      That is an epic commute back to your car. You can get a shuttle back to the border where you’ll walk across, then rent a cab back to St. Mary or Many Glacier (if Many, then take another paid shuttle) then take the park’s free shuttle to West Glacier, then a taxi or hitchhike to Polebridge, then hitchhike back to your car. Ugh. Most likely, it would be easier as an out and back, although not as much fun.

      I think you’ll be able to get an advanced reservation permit, but show up as early as possible the day before your backpacking trip starts and know what is available by checking the park’s Walk-in Availability page

  41. VJ Erabelli Avatar
    VJ Erabelli

    Wow! Awesome information Jake! We are a group of 3 families (about 12 to 16 people including kids from 10 to 16). We are from Texas and looking at being around GNP area from Aug. 11 to 19th and are looking at doing a 2 night 3 day backcountry camping trip. Unfortunately SPE, ELL and MCD campgrounds are all taken. Looks like LIN and REY are available. Can you suggest an itinerary around these two sites? If not any other trails you can suggest where the campgrounds would be available?
    Greatly appreciate your help! Would love to visit any part of GNP as to us Texans any of it is beautiful 🙂

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      With that big of a group, it’s difficult because you’ll need a few sites for your whole trip. I think that you will kind of have to wing it when you get here. I know it sounds lame, but it’s kinda crazy. I think you’ll have a great time in the Belly River area because it’s mostly level with lakes and plenty of opportunity to explore from the campsites. REY is a campsite that needs to be part of a longer trip and LIN is a bear to get to. I wouldn’t recommend that for a family outing like you’re suggesting. 😀

  42. Hi Jake.
    Last summer while I Glacer I pick up one of your day hike guides. I’m starting to plan a one or two week hike for this summer. I’m thinking of making a loop covering as much of the park as possible. Would you hike Nyack creek trail or coal creek trail? And Why. Do you know if the ranger stations or other places except food drops for food resupply? I like to dehydrated my food in advance. Also I don’t know if I can make this happen with the permits. I’m used to hiking by hours in the day and just finding camping as it apears each night. What happens if you get off schedule?
    Thanks. In the mean time I’ll keep reading through your site

    1. The Coal/Nyack Loop is a great way to get away from Glacier’s crowds (and get a lot of creek fords). It’s not my favorite area however as I prefer to be hiking to passes, seeing Glacier’s vast summits, alpine meadows, and lakes. The best bang for your buck is the Northern Circle which starts at Many Glacier and goes to the Belly River Area, over Stoney Indian Pass, then south along the Highline Trail to Granite Park where you go over Swiftcurrent Pass. That trip is pretty difficult to get because it has a lot of popular campsites and will require approximately 5 days. Another incredible trip involves heading up to the Hole-in-the-Wall area via Bowman Lake or Waterton Lake. Ultimately, Glacier is a massive place, so one loop doesn’t see it all like say the Teton Crest Trail. Feel free to pick an area and plan on coming back. 😀

      1. Hi Jake
        Thanks for getting back to me. I have unfortunately scrapped my Glacier plans. Getting to permits was highly unlikely to work out. I’m not use to having to camp in specific spots. I hike by hours in the day, not miles and camp as I find it. I wanted to start at East Glacier go over Firebrand pass through the Walton area back to west side of Two Medicine. Back one side or the other in Nyack/coals. Resupply in Apgar. Continue over Gunsight pass to Siyeh bend. Hop a bus to the highline trail. Then take Stoney Indian to either ptarmigan or redgap. Then just CDT back. I figured I could leave resuppies in bear cans along the way before starting out where I could not reach a store. It seemed highly unlikely to get permitting for such a hike. I’m now thinking about exsploring the High Unitas wilderness.
        Thanks again.

  43. Stephanie Avatar

    Hi Jake,

    A few friends and I are planning a trip but I am the only experienced backpacker in the group (and by experienced, I mean I have been once). I am also worried about the distances being too long or too strenuous based on our physical capabilities. The last trip I did was three days and it was 7.5 miles out, 8 miles the second day, and 7.5 the third day. I don’t think it would be wise to go beyond 8 for this group and I worry even that might be too difficult but it’s hard to gauge. I love all the options you provided in the blog. I am wondering if you have any recommendations in terms of a 3 day trip that is reasonable in terms of mileage and difficulty?


    1. hike734 Avatar

      I would probably think about days in the Belly River area with side trips up the valleys to Stoney Indian, Bear Mountain Point, Ptarmigan Tunnel, Redgap Pass, and Helen Lake all as options. The other option would be to do a slower, three-day hike around Dawson-Pitamakan.

  44. maggie Avatar

    I am planning to be out there in June for a 1/2 marathon (June 14-18). I plan on doing some hiking before and after my race which is Saturday morning. I am physically capable of long hikes in strenuous conditions and would love to do overnight backpacking in backcountry. HOWEVER, I am solo! I don’t mind solo day hikes but being from Miami, I’m not sure I’m equipt to do overnight trips :). Do you know of where or how I can find people to do some hiking or even overnight trips with? I don’t know where to turn, I’m sure i’m not the only one looking for company.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      That’s a tough one. The easiest recommendation would be on one of the Glacier hiking/backpacking pages on Facebook. Not sure if the 1/2 Marathon has a glacier page as well for group discussion. Have fun!

      1. Maggie Avatar

        Thank you. I did find a forum on Facebook. Being up there, you think it will be extra cold this year in June?

        1. hike734 Avatar

          I don’t know if it will be extra cold or not. It will have more snow on the ground than an average year. You’ll be restricted to lower elevation stuff, but the waterfalls and rivers will be amazing!

  45. Thanks for this website! Got any advice for a 2 or 3 night backpacking trip in late May/early June? Is that too early? It’s the only time I have off work!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      That’s always a tricky time with the snow (especially this year). I think that you’re just going to have to keep an eye out on the trail status page as you get closer and see what you can get! It’ll probably be something low. A spring trip into the Belly River is sweet! I was there in May one year and it was divine. 😀

      1. Thanks for the advice!! Might try late September when I’m off work then. 🙂

        1. hike734 Avatar

          September is my favorite. 😀

  46. Rachael Rayfield Avatar
    Rachael Rayfield

    Could you possibly recommend a resource where I can look up the elevation changes of all of these hikes?

    1. hike734 Avatar

      I think Hiking Project would be a decent place to look. You’ll have to do a bit of piecing together, but it shouldn’t be TOO cumbersome! 😀

  47. Ann-Marie Breen Avatar
    Ann-Marie Breen

    Hi Jake,
    Thanks for your helpful information. My family is going to Glacier in early August and will be trying for walk up backcountry permits. I have a lot of options and just wanted your opinion about a few knowing I may just have to take whatever we can get. Also, we didn’t get passports in time so have to stay in the US which limits some backpacking options. I’m super interested in Gunsight Pass from Jackson Glacier Overlook to Lake McDonald. Also just looked into an out and back in the Mokowanis Drainage from Chief Mtn. Customs camping at Cosley and Mokowanis Lakes and hopefully going up a bit past Mokowanis Lake to see some of the waterfalls past there as well as going to the Bear Mtn. Overlook. Also Highline to Fifty Mountain and then back along FlatTop Mtn. Trail (can’t go to Goat Haunt) but can’t really find much out about Flat Top Mtn. Trail. Wondered how Ahern pass usually is the first week of August. We don’t have ice axes. Will have hiking poles, possibly yak trax if needed. Also looking at a couple of Two Medicine options. Any feedback on those options in terms of best scenery, solitude, ability to secure spots? We will be in the park for about a week so want to do one backpacking trip then day hikes. Kids are 13 and 15, we live in Western North Carolina mountains and all hike a bunch. Thanks for your site and your help. Already purchased your map for Glacier.

  48. Love all of your videos! I’m stuck with going late June & was hoping to get in an out-and-back trip from Bowman over Brown Pass to Lake Francis, then Kootenai and back out. Do you think there’s much hope of that being a successful trip?

    1. My guess is that you’ll encounter too much snow when dropping down from Boulder Pass to Hole-in-the-Wall. Plan on it, keep your fingers crossed, and have a few other options too. You might just have to get whatever is open at the time. Sounds lame, but spring is fantastic! (Spring in Glacier extends into June btw). 😀

  49. Kristen Weise Avatar
    Kristen Weise

    Hello! We really want to do two backpacking trips (due to logistics / split the trip) and have a couple questions:
    1st trip – Chief Mt. – COS – MOL – STO – WAT/GOA (Spend a night or two in Waterton and shuttle back to Chief Mt.
    2nd Trip – Highline to Granite Chalet – Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier – Many Glacier to Piegan Pass/Siyeh Bend
    Questions – – When I put in my backcounry permit that’s 2 different entries right? Does it do me any good to put both on a single permit (1 permit with Trip 1 first and 2nd as an alternative) then put in a second permit with trip 2 as the first trip and #1 as the alternative?)
    So the rules with GRN and MAN state I have to have a minimum of 3 nights with Man not being the first night of my trip. But I can’t do any road walking and Reynolds cant be used if its on a trip starting or ending on Going to the sun Road…… Our only other option I see is day hiking Highline to Many Glacier, Staying there for a night or two then hiking over Piegan on another day hike to pick the car back up. But that’s a long day hike.
    Help? Suggestions? Please…

  50. Hi, I have a similar question to Kristen Weise’s. This statement in the park rules for backcountry camping:

    “Itineraries must be contiguous. You cannot exit one trailhead and drive to another trailhead to access campgrounds on the same trip.”

    We’d like to stay a few nights in our base camp (we have reservations for a week). This is an example of what we’d like to do: Stay in base camp Saturday & Sunday evening, backpack and camp at a backcounty site on Monday evening.
    Go back to base camp for a few nights, more day hikes, then another backcountry site overnight on Thursday night.

    Is my application going to be turned away?

    Thanks, and your site is very helpful.

    1. Basically, you need a backcountry itinerary for each of your separate trips. Sounds like you’ll be putting in for two reservations.

      1. Thank you! I’m going to try a phone call.

  51. Hi – great site! Went and did day hikes at Glacier on my first trip there last summer.
    Looking at a second week of July trip and wondering whether that *tends to be* a good time for this 2 night, 3 day route:

    Chief Mountain trailhead to Elizabeth Lake(9)
    to Cosley(4) (day hike 3 mile round trip to Bear Mountain point)
    to Chief Mountain trailhead (8.5)

    Will be submitting my possible routes and wondering how popular it may be that time of year. Most importantly, how buggy that time of year!

    I hope you make money off this site. It’s the best!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      That’s a great trip for that time of year. You may end up needing to get the head of the lake as the foot is super popular at that time. You’ll pass a couple of waterfalls and get some great views. Things change quickly around that time of year, so keep your eyes open for other trips that may come available as well!

  52. The Highline Trail to Granite Chalet to Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier to Piegan Pass to Siyeh Bend is no longer doable. The Many Glacier backcountry site must be part of a 3 or more night itinerary. whomp whomp…

  53. Elizabeth Avatar

    Hi – Thanks for this!

    I will be in Glacier the first week of July, and am hoping to do a 2-3 day backpacking trip. After watching your video, and spending hours in the rabbit hole of youtube GNP backpacking, I am slightly more overwhelmed with options than before – However, I realize going early in the season limits my options (which sad, but also a relief).

    My travel parter is Canadian and would like to make the trip across Waterton lake. I was thinking of going from Goat Haunt to Hole in the wall, as you suggested, but I think it’s too early in the season. Are there other options in this area you recommend?

    Alternatively we can backpack further south, saving the boat trip for another afternoon. For early July would you recommend Poia Lake to Elizabeth Lake? Or Gunshot pass to Lake McDonald? Is there anything open in Two Medicine?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Not sure this is still helpful, but here goes. Hole-in-the-Wall and Gunsight Pass are later July trips (especially HOL). The boat trips this year are in flux due to staffing issues, so that’ll be a decision that happens when you show up anyway. Poia to Elizabeth Lake is a great option as is anything that stays a bit lower in the Belly River/Mokowanis River area. You can always hike to Mokowanis Lake and camp there and do a splendid day trip up to the Stoney Indian basin.

      It’s really all about elevation and what has opened up by then. As you get closer, keep an eye out on the trail status page and think about a walk-in permit. Follow the instructions for getting a walk-in permit, be prepared and get in line early!

  54. Jacob Peterson Avatar
    Jacob Peterson

    Hey Jake. It’s Jacob. Haha. I may have posted this in the wrong spot before so I am reposting:
    My wife and I are planning to go to GNP this summer. We were looking at “being in Glacier” the 13-20. We plan to do that going to the sun road and Logan pass drive one day. We want to see hidden lake and the day hike to Grinnell glacier. I would really love to surprise her with a beautiful 3-4 day backpacking trip in Glacier. I could hike 10 to 20 miles a day and be just fine. She would be 5 or 10 at most. What would be your suggestion for a 3-4 day backpacking trip in Glacier? I want it to be really pretty for her, she is afraid of heights and not used to steep climbs yet. But we have done these and always just take our time and she does great. Really appreciate all you do. Ordered your day Hikes map, but it won’t be here by the 15th.. any help is appreciated! If there are better ways to get her into some beautiful country than 3 day trips two days, longer/shorter that’s fine. 3-4 days is what I had in mind. I really think it would be a great experience for her. What better way to get someone addicted to hiking in the backcountry than at Glacier!!!
    Thank You again.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Sorry that I didn’t get back to you by the 15th. Watch the video and shoot me an email if you still have questions. 😀

  55. Michelle Avatar

    Hey Jake, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me! I’m planning a trip for 4 people about the first week of July and we were hoping to hike in the Lee Ridge area and do the loop back to Chief Mountain trailhead. Do you think that area would be okay that time of year? And obviously I’m late on trying to get the advanced permits, would it even be worth it to submit an application for that and a backup at this point or would we be better off going for the same day permits? Thank you!

  56. Hi! We are trying to plan a 3 day backpacking trip in Glacier from March 21-23, but not sure about conditions. Any recommendations of trails and campsites sites that would be open? Trying to avoid snow camping and anything too risky. Would love some insight from those with any experience with this!

  57. Marianne Bell Avatar
    Marianne Bell

    Hi there,
    My husband and I will be visiting GNP July 4-8, 2020. We are hoping to backpack and will be applying for advanced reservation on March 15. We’re hoping to backpack 3-4 night, approximately 10 miles a day. We fly in on July 4 in Kalispell. I know we have to pay attention to snowpack when we arrive. I also read the alert to avoid Many Glacier area due to traffic delays. Can you share any plausible itineraries? Thanks so much. Oh, and we are experienced backpackers. This will be our 21st National Park.

  58. Jennifer Avatar

    Of all of these trips, which one would you suggest for kids. I have three daughters from 8-13. They can do up to 10 miles in a day but less elevation is more enjoyable and the 6-8 mile range daily is ideal. More shade, water (stream crossings/waterfalls) and animal sightings make the traveling easier for them.

    What are your top 3? Thanks so much for this fabulous information!

  59. Gillian S Brennan Avatar
    Gillian S Brennan

    Hello Jake!
    My name is Gillian Brennan. I just graduated high school and I want to plan a three day hiking trip for my dad and I. I have been on a couple of local backpacking trips and one four day trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I had a few questions for you, one being which hike has a mix of above tree line and valley hiking? I want to make the most out of the trip and get the most variety. My second question is (which may be a stupid one) but these hikes include sleeping in a tent right? That is what we would prefer. My third is: is there a shuttle at the end of the trail heads to take you back to your car? I would also like to know if there any fees for doing these hikes? I am young, so my budget is tight. We would also like to be challanged, my dad has never done a backpacking trip before, but he is in great shape. So what do you suggested for a very medium to medium to hard hike? Thank you for all of this great information. I would love to be able to call you or email you so there is a more direct line of contact, if you are willing to do something like that. Thanks again!!

  60. Skip Schweiss Avatar
    Skip Schweiss

    Any maps or guidance on the Ptarmigan Trail to Cosley Lake hike, from Many Glacier trailhead (and back)?

  61. What are your top suggestions for a 3 night, 4 day hike in Glacier?

    Thank you!

  62. James Franklin Avatar
    James Franklin

    Hi Jake! I’m planning a 4 day, 3 night trip. Can you recommend a couple trips you think would be the best? Thank you, Jim

  63. Rachel Schwartz Avatar
    Rachel Schwartz

    Hi! I’m thinking of doing a multi-day backpacking trip in Glacier Park in August, but I know that will be a busy time. Do you have a recommendation for which trip will maximize natural beauty and solitude? What are some of the less busy routes? Thanks!

  64. Hi! I’m looking at a few possible areas to backpack to and was hoping to get your opinion on the “best” choice in terms of scenic trips since I would only have time to visit one area.
    1) Boulder Pass/hole in the wall/ lake francis/ lake Janet area
    2) Stoney Indian Pass/ Mokowanis Lake/Glenns Lakes/Cosley
    3) Elizabeth lake/ Helen lake (might could include Cosley and Glenn’s)

    Thanks for all the information in your article!

  65. Cacey Dornbusch Avatar
    Cacey Dornbusch

    Is there a trail that I could do a multi day hike with my 5 year old

    1. Jake Bramante Avatar
      Jake Bramante

      Hello Cacey! That’s a surprisingly tough question to answer due to the great variation of abilities in 5 year olds and the parents that will be hauling extra gear. I suggest figuring out how many miles you all can do with your kiddo and then look for campsites that are amenable to that distance. I think that basecamping and doing day trips might be a swell way to go, that way you are spending more time doing lighter hikes. My day hike map also shows the elevation steepness of each trail (green/easy, yellow/moderate, red/steep) which can help you visualize effort along the way.

  66. Connor Hoemann Avatar
    Connor Hoemann

    Any 3 day 2 night recommendations with the available reservations left? thank you so much for the info this helps alot

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