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Itinerary - August 2009

Watertown, New York
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Itinerary - August 2009

We are taking a 2 week (hiking) trip to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier from 8/18 to 9/1. We will have 6 full days in Glacier and I have started to plan the itinerary for each day. I understand some trails may be closed due to bear activity, in that case I have a guide to day hikes so I could easily find something else on the spot. I would love to hear any comments or suggestions. FYI we are staying in East Glacier Park all 7 nights. Thanks for the help!

Day 1:

Grinnell Glacier with boat shuttle ( 8 miles)

Swiftcurrent Lake picture taking

Day 2

Iceberg Lake (9.5 miles)

Redrock Lake (3.6 miles) - to take up time while waiting for laundry at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn

Day 3:

Waterton-Lakes Crypt Lake hike with boat shuttle (10.6 miles)

Day 4:

Highline Trail (7 miles or less depending on when we decide to turn around)

Avalanche Lake (4 miles)

Lake McDonald for picture taking

Day 5:

Cracker Lake (12.2 miles)

Day 6:

Hidden Lake (3-6 miles)

St. Mary Falls (2.4 miles)

Something in the Two Medicine Area

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indiana
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1. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Sounds great. I would suggest on the hike to St. Mary Falls that you go the additional mile or so to Virginia Falls. I also recommend for a back up hike, Siyeh Pass, in case one of the other trails you have picked is closed. You can go in from Piegan Pass and down to Sunrift and catch a shuttle back to your car or hike up and back on one trail. If you go up and back the ranger suggested to us to use the Sunrift trailhead. It gains a thousand feet more than the other trail, but he was right, the views are much more spectacular. The hike is in the 10-12 mile range, depending on whether you hike thru or up and back.

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2. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

You've got a great list.

It is a good idea to go with a list of hikes you want to do but not be tied to particular days, so you can adjust based on weather if need be. Last summer we hiked the Highline Trail on a warm and sunny day in late August; two days later the GTTS road was closed due to snow and high winds!

If it is a good day on the Highline Trail I wouldn't rush and shortchange that one to get to Avalanche lake the same day.

And if you are staying at East Glacier you will need to add driving times to the trailheads.

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Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Just wanted to comment on your plans for Day 3 - to Crypt Lake. Your shuttle to Crypt Lake leaves the marina at 10 am. I would want to be leaving East Glacier at least 3 hours before that time to ensure you get on the boat. Also, you will want to ensure that you have your passports with you (or other gov't approved ID) for the border crossing.

I hope you love Crypt Lake, I really think it's worth the effort to get there!

- CG

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4. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

I'm sitting here with my map in front of me and remembering the road from St. Mary to East Glacier and wondering why you want to stay in East Glacier when so many of the hikes are on the Going to the Sun highway or in the Many Glacier area? It seem like you will have a long slow drive pretty much every day going and coming back. I'd prefer the St. Mary area as much more central and faster to get places. JMHO

Charlotte, North...
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5. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Everyone has given you some great information and advice. I, too, would suggest (if you are able to) consider changing your lodging to St. Mary rather than East Glacier. If you cannot, then I'd suggest spending at least one day just hiking in Two Medicine. You will be driving a lot by staying in East Glacier.

I agree that if you get a good day to do the Highline Trail, don't get your mind set on having to do another hike that day. The Highline Trail is worth just hiking leisurely and taking in all the beauty!

As far as your shorter hikes (Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake Overlook, and St. Mary/Virginia Falls) I would say Hidden Lake Overlook is the best and a must-do. The others are nice but not completely necessary if you run out of time.

One thing to mention...when/if you hike to Red Rock Falls, make sure you stop by Fishercap Lake. During the morning or late afternoon/evening you are almost guaranteed to see moose. I've never gone to Fishercap and not seen moose there.

If you do choose to Cracker Lake (which I do recommend) I would suggest consideration to hike past the head of the lake and begin walking up the terminal moraine (big rock hills above the lake) for an amazing view of the lake and entire valley.

As was mentioned, Siyeh and Piegan Passes are well worth consideration. I, too, agree the most scenic way to hike it is from Sunrift Gorge to Siyeh Pass, but it is more strenuous. I hiked the loop from Siyeh Bend to Sunrift Gorge (10.3 miles) and it was awesome. Waiting for a shuttle bus, however, was not so awesome.

If you hike in Two Medicine, there are some nice hikes there as well. Scenic Point is only 6.4 miles but is very steep. The view is great, though! One hike that I absolutely love (although long and requiring all day) is the Pitamakan-Dawson Pass loop. This hike is about 17 miles roundtrip if you take the boat shuttle, so it may not be something you'd consider. It's beautiful & amazing, however, and I highly recommend it if you're up for the challenge. Another good one that is longer is Two Medicine Pass. With the shuttle boats, it's about 14 miles. You get an amazing view into a wild and remote area of the park.

Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake are both great choices. If for some reason you can only choose one, I'd go with Iceberg. Ptarmigan Tunnel (near Iceberg Lake) is also a great hike from what I understand (but I've never hiked it). It's about 11 miles roundtrip I believe.

If I was staying in East Glacier, I think I would choose an itinerary like this...

Day 1:

Grinnell Glacier

Photographing moose @ Fishercap Lake & Swiftcurrent Lake

Day 2:

Iceberg Lake

Red Rock Lake

Day 3:

Waterton/Crypt Lake hike

Day 4:

Pitamakan/Dawson Pass...if you think you're up for it

Scenic Point (if not) or Two Medicine Pass

If you don't want to spend a day in Two Medicine...Siyeh Pass

Day 5:

Highline Trail

If you have time...Hidden Lake Overlook

Day 6:

Cracker Lake

Again, this is just what I would probably do. You've got a fine itinerary right now. Please let me know if I can help you any further! I have provided a link to my photos from last summer. I hiked Scenic Point, Cracker Lake, Highline Trail to Many Glacier, Grinnell Glacier, Siyeh Pass loop, and Pitamakan-Dawson Pass. The second link is to all my travel pictures. You will notice links that say "Glacier Day 1, 2, 3, etc." There, you will find pictures from my 2006 trip when we hiked Cobalt Lake, Red Rock/Bullhead Lake, Apikuni Falls, Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake Overlook, Iceberg Lake, and Grinnell Glacier. Please let me know if you have questions about the trips/hikes.

…photobucket.com/albums/…

s143.photobucket.com/albums/r122/TNsoccer07/

Sean

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buffalo
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6. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

I agree with most of what's been said above. I would not shortchange Highline (which is really spectacular) to do Avalanche Lake (which is mainly in the forest and I found to be incredibly mediocre). Do as much of Highline as you can.

The rest of the hikes you have chosen are excellent.

I also agree that with the hikes you have planned, it would save you a lot of time and aggrevation if you stay in St. Mary, Many Glacier, or Rising Sun. The drive up from East Glacier to St. Mary's is tedious through slow, winding, and not particularly scenic roads. It would cost you nearly two hours a day to stay in East Glacier vs. the other site I've mentioned.

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Watertown, New York
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7. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions! We will definitely make the Highline trail a priority.

As for the lodging, we are staying in East Glacier because we are on a two week trip and trying to keep the costs low. We found a nice cabin with all the amenities for only $125 a night versus more expensive lodging in St. Mary and Many Glacier that were not rated good at all. In fact, I couldn't find anything reasonable in either of those places (maybe I am not looking hard enough).

Furthermore, I do not see it as a problem due to the fact that we always stay on eastern time when vacationing out west. This allows us to wake up very early. When visiting Yosemite, we stayed out of the park, drove an hour and a half on the winding road to the entrance, and still had plenty of time to hike each day.

indiana
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8. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

I laughed when you said you stay on eastern time, as we do the same thing and everyone thinks we are crazy! I have to have a friendly difference of opinion with TNSoccer in that I would rather hike Grinnell Glacier instead of Iceberg Lake. You get great scenery on the hike, the glacier and lakes. TNSoccer mentioned last year that his family stayed at Don's Hideaway near Babb, which is close to the Many Glacier area and he liked it. Others have given it good reviews. You can check it out at www.twosistersofmontana.com. I think it may be a little more expensive than your cabin, but look and see. Have a great trip and just be flexible with your plans based on weather, bear closings on trails and the things that are important to you.

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9. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Great advice again! hikes...i'm not really sure why I like Iceberg better than Grinnell. I just think sitting at the shore of Iceberg Lake is spectacular. The views along the way to Grinnell are better IMO as well. I think what really swayed my opinion was because last summer I did the Highline-Many Glacier Trail plus Grinnell Glacier Overlook the day before hiking to Grinnell Glacier. So I had already seen the glaciers/lakes from the Overlook when I was hiking the Grinnell Glacier Trail and it just didn't seem as awesome. They are definitely two of the best day hikes in the park, and I don't think there's any doubt about that. I'd like to do Iceberg by doing the Shangri-la route sometime too. Oh...and btw hikes...I don't think I've mentioned this, but I'm fairly certain I'm going to try to get a summer job in the park next summer (2010)! : )

And, yes...I did stay at Don's Hideaway last summer. I highly recommend Don's because of its excellent location. It's about 4 miles north of St. Mary and 5 miles south of Babb, so really perfect if you're looking to hike mainly in Many Glacier and off GTTS Road. I cannot be completely certain on the price, as my parents made the reservations, but I believe it was about $150 or $160 per night. It's not luxurious by any means, but we all really enjoyed it and, again, its prime location.

Sean

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10. Re: Itinerary - August 2009

Oh...and outdoorventurer...if you all do plan on waking up early, then the driving time may not be too much of an issue. Also, another hike I didn't mention is Triple Divide Pass. It is in the Cutbank area of the park, which is between Two Medicine and St. Mary. It would be a roundtrip distance of about 13 miles. I plan to hike Triple Divide the next time I'm in the park.