Piegan Pass 2015

Morning Eagle Falls

While the hike up to Piegan Pass and back is a great trip in Glacier National Park, through hiking this exceptional day trip down to Many Glacier takes it to the next level. Dropping down into Many Glacier has you passing terraced, alpine landscapes, beautiful waterfalls and a series of emerald green lakes in the Grinnell Creek drainage.

After getting our shuttle all situated, we took off from Siyeh Bend up towards Piegan Pass. We gained our elevation through the trees and broke out into beautiful flower meadows with the requisite pollinators that can sometimes be a bit much. Peaks became more and more visible until we broke out of the trees altogether. The trail leading all the way up the pass, cut through the alpine with summits all around, the treed valley below, and glacier fields in the distance.

White-tailed Ptarmigan

At the pass, we encountered ptarmigans, bighorn sheep, hoary marmots, pikas, and columbian ground squirrels. Views down toward the Many Glacier area were more than breathtaking. Normally, we’d stop at Piegan and head on back, but we had a vehicle in Many Glacier, so down we dropped.

On the north side of Piegan Pass, where we were heading, the trail wandered over terraced terrain. A sapphire blue tarn sat below the cliffs of the back side of the Garden Wall. Summits that my wife and I had climbed the previous day looked down on us from impossible heights.

As we descended, the various feeder creeks from snowfields came together to create Cataract Creek. On one such creek, we found another female white-tailed ptarmigan with her chicks.

Further down, we came across the exceptionally beautiful Morning Eagle Falls which spills over a red rock layer in grand fashion. From here, the trail drops into a basin that is lush and full of moose and bears. While we came across no bears, we did jump a moose with only the first couple of folks in our group seeing him.

After passing the tall Featherplume Falls, we decided to take the trail that drops down to Grinnell Lake and follow that trail to Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake. Despite that trail being a bit longer, it’s more scenic and gave some of our crew views that they’d not experienced.

Mountain Death Camas

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5 responses to “Piegan Pass 2015”

  1. Mike Kinsella Avatar
    Mike Kinsella

    You’re giving me the urge to do this hike again. How many miles is it from Siyeh Bend to catch the boat on Josephine Lake? 10? 12?

    Small quibble- you’re starting to pan too fast again. Count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two….

  2. Would it be possible to combine Piegan and Siyeh Passes in a single day hike? Any reason you might recommend against it? The route I’m envisioning would start from Siyeh Bend up to Piegan Pass, then turn around and head east to Siyeh Pass and end at Sunrift Gorge.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Absolutely possible. Only issue would be that it’s a big day. 😀

      1. big day means—>how many miles if you combine? If i did the combined hike of Iceberg and Ptarmigan tunnel, could i do this??? (i just want to add the side trip up to the overlook at piegan – and then head back down to Siyeh trail and end up at sunrift gorge…. Thanks!!!

        1. Brad Murrell Avatar
          Brad Murrell

          Hi Debbie. I combined these hikes in August and I estimated it to be around 13-14 miles (I don’t use anything that tracks my distance). If you can manage, I definitely recommend doing this – the view from Piegan is a must-see. I parked my car at Sunrift Gorge, took the shuttle to Siyeh Bend to start the hike, and then hiked out to my car back at Sunrift Gorge. This route is a Y-shaped hike – taking a left at the junction and hiking up to Piegan Pass first, then backtracking to the junction and proceeding east to Siyeh Pass. I got a late start that day, but had no problem finishing with plenty of daylight. I also ended up tacking on Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls afterward.

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