Despite the smoke from fires in the west hanging in the air, we decided to head out to the Two Medicine area to hike Scenic Point, a favorite of ours.
While the smoke affected the views somewhat, it also kept the day a bit cooler. We ended up seeing ample wildflowers, picked some huckleberries, and saw plenty of birds.
We arrived at the trailhead around 8 in the morning on Monday, July 19th to a surprisingly empty parking lot. While Scenic Point isn’t one of the more popular hikes in Glacier National Park, it certainly gets some traffic.
Of course we weren’t complaining about the lack of crowds as we entered into the forest at the beginning of the hike. Huckleberries hung from the plants and we snacked on them as we wandered through the level start of the hike. The trail gains a little bit of elevation as it comes along Appistoki Creek, then up to Appistokie Falls.
Appistoki Falls is a quaint little waterfall. It’s not one you can get to the base of (and doesn’t make for incredible pictures), but it’s pretty and the creek both going into it and coming out of it dances, pools, and cascades. The trail follows along the creek to the top of the falls where you get to see it from a few angles.
Once on top of the falls, the trail leaves the forest below and enters into the wide open expanse that is so typical and wonderful of the east side of Glacier National Park. We continued to cruise up the Appistoki Creek drainage, passing low growing wildflowers and gazing up at Appistoki Peak, Medicine Peak and watched Mt. Henry come into view.
Blister rust and pine beetles have decimated Whitebark Pines in the west. This has left stands of gray, gnarled trees which look so incredible along this trail, sad as it may be (you can find a few still alive higher up on the trail).
The trail alternates between the open, low growing vegetation, Whitebark Pine stands and stands of Subalpine Fir as it switchbacks up the mountainside. Two Medicine Lake becomes visible as Rising Wolf Mountain towers above it.
Eventually the trail comes to a saddle with new views that look down onto Lower Two Medicine Lake and across to Scenic Point itself. A traverse across the hillside lends another variety of plant life and flowers which we enjoyed watching the butterflies dart between.
After the traverse, we traveled across the rolling terrain with Horned Larks tinkling overhead. This point of the trail usually gives sweeping views out to the plains, but the smoke obscured much of those views. After taking the spur trail to the summit, we joined the marmots at the top.
After a snack and a visit with a couple of other folks, we turned around and headed back down finding more birds and more huckleberries. While we saw tracks and scat, we never saw any Bighorn Sheep which was surprising as they frequent the area… and I’ve never been up there and not seen them, but that’s part of the serendipity of getting outside. You just never know what you’re going to get.
This time we got views, flowers, birds, and a few huckleberries which was just fine by us.