Chief Mountain

Lee Ridge – Gable Pass – Slide Lake

In the remote northeast corner of Glacier National Park, lies a ridge that is between Chief Mountain and the Belly River drainage. A long alpine terraced ridge, Lee Ridge gives one incredibly breathtaking panoramic views once you get above the pines.

At the head of Lee Ridge and to the east, Gable Pass lies between Chief Mountain and Gable Mountain and will take you down a steep slope to Slide Lake. The trail leading to the lake follows a fantastic limestone boulder field that houses many pikas. Nestled at the base of Yellow Mountain, Slide Lake is really two lakes connected by a small creek. Following the creek out approximately a mile and a half will take you to the other trailed access to the valley where the trailhead is at the end of a long bumpy drive through Blackfeet Reservation land.

At the head of Lee Ridge and to the west, a small trail goes down to the Belly River right at the Belly River Ranger Station. Save for the very top, it’s a steep, densely treed trail and one I wouldn’t recommend to access the ridge. The ranger station and the valley that it inhabits is full of meadows and aspen stands surrounded by peaks with the Belly River running through it.

Lee Ridge - Gable Pass - Slide Lake
Belly River looking towards Gable Mountain

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14 responses to “Lee Ridge – Gable Pass – Slide Lake”

  1. Mark Hufstetler Avatar
    Mark Hufstetler

    Haven’t been up to Gable Pass for years, now … but I remember how glorious it was. And there’s something particularly cool about those most-remote corners of Glacier, the amazing places that hardly anyone manages to get to.

    Thanks for the memories!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      I agree. The variety of places in Glacier is amazing. The fun thing about the Chief Mountain area is, almost everyone you see is a backpacker… and you see a lot less people overall. 😉

  2. Mike Kinsella Avatar
    Mike Kinsella

    When I first came out of the woods and saw that beautiful meadow with the split-rail fence and ranger cabin, and Chief Mountain in the background, I thought: “Wow, this looks like a scene out of a John Wayne Western!”

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Absolutely! I love the feeling you get when you look at these old cabins and just sense the history of them. I’m starting to read about Joe Cosley. So fun to put historical context with these places.

  3. Bob Hughes Avatar
    Bob Hughes

    Hi Jake,

    Tonight my sister is attending your presentation at the Seattle REI store.
    Through their website I surfed to this website. Epic adventure!

    Last year I exchanged a few emails with you about Chief Mountain.
    Thanks again for the info.
    You described the Lee Ridge trail; but I chose to get to the base of Chief Mountain from the east and through the Blackfeet Reservation.
    The Blackfeet were very gracious to grant me access to their sacred mountain.

    This year I took the boat up Two Medicine Lake (so named because two medicine women set up separate medicine lodges on opposite sides of the lake). From the upper landing I backpacked to Upper Two Medicine Lake, where I had an hour standoff with a Bull Moose–I was at the Pit Toilet and he laid down along the trail between me and my tent (two medicine lodges re-enacted?)

    Back in East Glacier Village at the Luna Restaurant I tried to ask a Blackfeet elder about Running Eagle, a 1700’s woman warrior, who was killed in her raid of the Flatheads–all he would say is the truth, “Many stories, many stories.”
    (another Bull-moose/Chief standoff)

    After I got back home I deduced that the elder was none other than Earl Old Person–the honorary lifetime Chief of the Blackfeet Nation.

    I really appreciate your accompanying slides of flora and fauna.

    Thanks again,
    Bob Hughes, Post Falls, Idaho

  4. […] affected by a warming of the planet. We decided on a Pika and, since I’d not been to Lee Ridge since my project, we decided to head on out to one of the best pika sites I’d […]

  5. Hi There!

    What time of year is Lee Ridge usually passable? I am looking at a trip in late June and we were thinking of doing: Lee Ridge to Slide Lake night one, Cosley Lake night 2 and 3 (using it as a basecamp and dayhiking). My concern is Lee Ridge won’t be open by then.

    Thanks for the awesome info on your site!

    1. I think that you may be good this year. Snowpack is lower than normal. I’d keep an eye out on the trail status reports. I think you’ll probably find some snow on the section of trail from Gable Pass down to Slide Lake more than anywhere else. That’s my best prognosis. 😀

  6. Denise Page Avatar
    Denise Page

    Hi Jake,
    I really enjoy all your posts, pics and tips. How would you prefer to do the Lee Ridge/Slide Lake/Gable Pass route if you were to make a loop of it. I was thinking of trying to get backcountry camping at Slide Lake and then either Cosley ( if I’m lucky enough) or Gable Creek, but not sure what order would be best.
    We also want to do the Belly River and through Ptarmigan Tunnel, but wonder which way is best on that one, too. We have done Gable Creek, Glens lake Head, up and over Stoney Indian Pass to Kootenai a couple years ago.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      The hike up to Lee Ridge from the Belly is super steep (of course the hike from Gable Pass to Slide Lake anything but level itself!) so I would think that I would probably do Slide Lake the first night. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of the hike out of the Belly as that last part is mind-numbing. My gut, however, tells me to do Slide Lake first, but it’s not a clear cut choice.

      I think for the Belly River one, I might start out at the Chief Mountain trailhead so you are coming out on a downhill instead of climbing back up to your car. If you decide to do a shuttle, it’s nice to shuttle first and hike to your car which would probably be the case here as well.

  7. My girlfriend and I are doing a loop next month that starts at the Lee Ridge trailhead and comes out at the Cheif Mountain Customs trailhead. Is there suitable parking at either of these locations to leave our vehicle or are we going to need to park at Many Glacier and cab from there? I can’t find much information about it.

    1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
      Jacob Bramante

      I’d drop off the packs and a person at the trailhead, then park at the Chief Mountain trailhead where there’s plenty of parking, then walk the 1/4 mile to the trailhead and begin the sublime loop!

      1. Thanks Jake! I would assume it’s fine for us to leave our car there? We’re doing 3 nights in SLI>GAB>ELF. Regarding that hike, how is the Bear Mountain overlook? Would it be too much additional mileage to add to our 3rd day from GAB>ELF?

        Thanks for all the info in this site! It’s been invaluable to our planning over the last couple of weeks!

        1. Jacob Bramante Avatar
          Jacob Bramante

          This is probably too late now, but it’s fine to leave your car there for three nights. I think that Bear Mountain is about 7.6mi round trip from Gable. Do it if you have the energy. 😉

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