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A fantastic hike that leads from the St. Mary valley to the Cutbank area goes over a fantastic pass called Triple Divide Pass*. While it seemed that most people started at the St. Mary side, I started at the Cutbank trailhead on August 10, 2011. You start out walking in meadows on either side. The Cutbank side is more of a pine forest as it follows the north fork of Cutbank Creek and begins gaining elevation at the turnoff for Medicine Grizzly Lake. You can break your trip up by camping at Atlantic Creek campground if you wish, but it’s really just a campsite in trees. Once you begin climbing, you leave the trees and have views that just keep getting better as you look down on Medicine Grizzly Lake.
Once at the Pass, you have your pick of amazing views looking in each direction. Keep your eye out for bighorn sheep and make sure the local residents (marmots and ground squirrels) don’t make a meal out of sweaty pack straps and poles. From there you descend into more flowers, waterfalls and breathtaking views. Keep your eyes up on the cliffs for mountain goats.
When you cross over Red Eagle Creek, you are close to the head of the beautiful Red Eagle Lake. I think you’ll have a better chance of seeing big game at the head of the lake, but the foot of the lake is a prettier site as you’re looking into the mountains. Midsummer is fantastic with wildflowers and there are an amazing variety of birds. I was fortunate enough to watch an enormous moose frolicking in the water.
The walk out to St. Mary, by the old 1913 Ranger Station, is fairly level with burnt areas, flower meadows and aspen groves intermixed creating great habitat for a variety of animals.
Overall I loved this trip. It has all the things I love about Glacier National Park. Big game, birds, beautiful flowers, waterfalls and lakes, fantastic views and wonderful alpine settings.
*Named so because water that lands on the peak there will end up in the Pacific, the Atlantic or the Arctic Oceans depending upon which face it lands
10 responses to “Triple Divide”
This website is awesome! I have never been to Glacier Park, but I’ll be working there this summer, and living in St. Mary. This hike is definitely on my rapidly growing to-do list.
I look forward to watching more of your vids as you post them, and I’m counting down the weeks till I hike them myself!
My son & I were about 4 days behind you. We went over Triple Divide on August 14th as a part of a 4-day backpack. Oldman Lake, Atlantic Creek, Red Eagle Lake (Foot) campgrounds. I live near Atlanta, GA and I’ve been coming to Glacier NP for a backpack (sometimes two backpacks) each season for the past 10 years. I’ve covered a lot of the park but not as much as you! Doing Kintla to Lake Francis and back this year (I don’t have the logistical support that you appeared to have on your Waterton to Kintla trek). This summer’s effort will “connect the dots” for me – allowing me to say I’ve done the Great Northern Traverse… just not in a single backpack.
I am very impressed with your Hike734 project but equally impressed – perhaps more so – with the effort & professionalism you are putting into the documentation. I hope you are able to monitize this effort in some way.
See you on the trail!
Jake, thank you so much for sharing your love of Glacier with the rest of us. I live in Troy, MT, and I, too love Glacier Park. I am a newly single Dad of two great kids, 7 and 11. We make it to the park at least once every year for car camping, and I make it once a year for a real hike. Last year, I checked off Triple Divide Peak from my Bucket List. I did it as a solo day hike from the Cutbank Campground side. This peak, with its’ special triple divide feature, had been calling me for years. So glad I did it, someday I hope to do it again with my kids. Also, the side hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake, is downright spiritual. I was compelled to hike all the way to the bottom of the waterfall and found a heart-shaped rock in the cascade for my daughter. That is definitely my favorite lake in the park, and I’ve been to many. Thanks again. Keep on blogging! Hope to meet you on the trail someday.
Nice! I love stories just like this. What’s next on your list?
I am a teacher in Sandpoint, Idaho and hike in the park quite a bit. Your videos are wonderful to watch and give me great ideas for future hikes. Just finished cross country skiing near North McDonald Falls and heard a great grey owl. I had to just stop and listen. So AWESOME!
I’m super jealous! I’ve yet to see a Great Gray. Get out enough and just maybe I will. Looking forward to meeting you in Spokane!