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7 nights - itinerary help please

Colorado
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7 nights - itinerary help please

Hi,

We will be in Glacier for 7 nights next year. We'd like to spend 3 nights in Many Glacier, 2 nights at Lake McDonald and are wondering what the best choice is for the other two nights. East Glacier, Waterton, St. Mary's Lake, Sperry Chalet? As far as Sperry, I'm concerned about the hassle involved if we were to take one trail up, the other down, and have to deal with taking the shuttle back to the car. Is it worth going to Sperry if you only do the same trail up and down (probably the shorter trail)? Which of the above areas might offer the most different experience from the Lake McD and Many Glacier area? We like to hike, but we're in our 40's so our hikes are in the 6 mile and under range normally. We'd like time to relax as well and just soak it all in.

Also, if we arrive in Kalispell mid day does it make sense to make our way east for Day 1 of the trip, and plan to end at Lake McD to be closest to the airport for return?

Any advice appreciated. Thanks so much!!

Ohio, USA
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for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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1. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

Lots of great questions, let's see where I can help:

3 nights in MG and 2 at Lake McDonald is a good start for the trip. I suggest Sperry for the other two nights. Dw and I did two nights there in August 2009 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

When we went to Sperry, we hiked in via Gunsight Pass and retured via the trail down the mountain to Lake McD. We parked the rental SUV at the Gunsight Pass Trailhead along the GTTSR (got us to the trailhead earlier than the shuttle from Lake McDonald where we were staying). After we got back from Sperry, we took the shuttle to retrieve the car and had no major issues.

Hiking to Sperry via Gunsight Pass is about 14 miles and has two major elevation changes (Gunsight and Lincoln Passes). It took us all day (we are in our 40s as well), but we made it.

As for starting on the east or west side, I reckon it could work either way, depending on the timing. We opted to work our way from west to east (Lake McD, then Sperry and finally Many Glacier, with the first and last night in Whitefish).

Check out the trpi report archives at the top of te Glaicer NP forum. There are several great TRs in the archive and TRs have a lot of excellent ideas for things to see and do in the park.

indiana
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2. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

The trail to Sperry from Lake McDonald is about 6.5 miles but gains 3400 ft. in elevation. This is the shorter trail, not as scenic, but fits in with your mileage range. I have not stayed at Sperry but it seems those that have (OhioHick and others) really love it. I think most spend two nights so they can hike to the glacier. If you have the extra days and can get reservations, I would try for Sperry. We have also arrived at the airport mid-day and then traveled on to Many Glacier for the first part of the trip. It isn't bad, you can get a taste of the park even if you have jet lag and don't feel like doing much, just make a stop or two and enjoy the scenery and make a note of what you want to see on the return trip. The trip across the park from the airport with just a stop or two will take 3-4 hours depending on construction delays. You will arrive at Many Glacier in time for dinner. If you can't get reservations at Sperry, I would try to stay the extra nights at Many. There are many trails there and you can easily take a day trip to Waterton. Enjoy your trip.

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

The shorter trail from Lake McDonald to Sperry is not nearly as scenic as the Gunsight Pass route. But I would still suggest going to Sperry for a couple of nights, even if you go in and out via the trail form Lake McDonald.

buffalo
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4. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

I will strongly concur with OhioHick...the hike from Gunsight Trailhead is spectacular, one of the best in the Park....the hike from LakeMcDonald is all in the trees and in my opinion is one of the worst hikes in the Park....

Wash, DC
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5. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

We spent two nights at Sperry this summer and it was a hightlight of our trip. We were worried about our 10 year old making the Gunsight hike, so we passed on it. On the first day we rode the horses up from Lake McDonald, arrived in time for lunch and mostly hung out in the afternoon during an amazing to watch storm. There was a short hike we wanted to do that afternoon, but it didn't look safe or fun with the storm. The second day we participated in one of the Sperry Chalet guided workshops and did a wonderful hike with a naturalist guide to the glacier. On our departure day we hiked back down to Lake McDonald where we had left our car, explored the Lodge and Lake and then drove the GTTS road over to Many Glacier for 3 nights.

I highly recommend the Sperry experience even without the Gunsight hike. The food was great, the glacier hike amazing and the staff at the Chalet was so very helpful. It is something my kids will definitely remember.

Rancho Cucamonga
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6. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

Lucky you! 7 nights in Glacier! Your plan sounds good...however, If you can get a reservation at Sperry (or Granite Chalet) it's a must do! 2 years ago we rode the horses to Sperry for 2 nights (ya gotta hike to Sperry Glacier – it’s beyond stunning), then we hiked out via the Gunsight Trail (my favorite trail). During that trip we also stayed at Granite Chalet for 1 night where we hiked in via the Highline Trail then down the Swiftcurrent Trail to the Swiftcurrent Motel. Again this past July we stayed at Granite Chalet. If you are worried about the difficulty of the hikes or any hike in the park, remember you have several months to prepare - just start walking :) It's so worth it!

Estero, Florida
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7. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

Better try and book now. MG is closing half the hotel for renovations and the rest was pretty much booked up in July. Good luck

NJ
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8. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

sperry is fantastic! i took the short trail, i don't think i have the legs for gunsight. i highly recommend 2 nights so you can go to the glacier OR even do part of gunsight out and back.... i parked at a parking area around lake macdonald don't recall if there was a shuttle when i went.

Sperry reservations open this coming monday. go to the sperry chalet website.

http://www.sperrychalet.com/ I am thinking about heading back next summer. Glacier is awesome.

Golden, Canada
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9. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

No wrong answer to your first question... 3 at MG, 2 at LM. The remaining two could be Waterton, a bit different with the townsite. You could also visit Two Medicine from East Glacier or St Mary's. Enough to do around Rising Sun to spend a night or two.

Where would I stay for two "extra" nights? Sperry Chalet would be my choice, Granite Park Chalet works too. The Sperry Glacier hike is probably my favorite GP trail. Gunsight is good too. Highline to Granite, and so on... so many options.

Niether of the hikes to Sperry are easy, but Gunsight is over twice as long. The SG hike is about 8 miles and not that easy either, but set a leisurely pace and enjoy the setting and you barely notice the effort. Oh, and lots and lots of sunscreen is needed up there. ;)

Edited: 22 October 2010, 08:38
10. Re: 7 nights - itinerary help please

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