Backpacking Glacier National Park
One of the most beautiful places on earth, Glacier National Park is on the short list of must-see places. Blessed to have it inside the United States of America, the Wild West Trail traverses nearly the entire park. Crossing the North Fork of the Flat Head River on the western Boundary, the trail passes Kintla Lake, Hole in the Wall, and Waterton Lake. It then hikes the Fifty Mountain area, the Highline Trail, Triple Divide Pass, and leaves the park at the southern boundary with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
A magical glacial lake formed by the last ice age. Her crescent shape is nestled between massive vertical cliffs which reflect off her still waters. Loons call from the waterfront and trout are so plentiful that they jump out of the water.
The trail climbs past Upper Kintla Lake, a smaller but just as beautiful geologic wonder. Snowcapped peaks reflect in the still waters and the mountains seemingly rise from the waters.
One of the most impressive passes in the park. On either side, freshly excavated glacial valleys reflect the sunlight. Snowfields fill the horizon and water flows out of the rocks. The water here is so clean that we never used our filters while hiking through the park. The famous Hole In The Wall campground is on the eastern side of Boulder Pass. Located high enough in the mountains, the steep-sided cliffs give the illusion of flying.
Waterton Lake and Waterton Valley
A large multi-national lake split between Canada and the United States. This is the official Eastern terminus of the Pacific Northwest Trail. It is also the beginning of the Continental Divide Trail section of the WWT.
The campground in Waterton valley is at a low elevation and is drainage for all of the surrounding mountains. As such, the mosquitos are absolutely horrendous. When sleeping at night, we thought we could hear the hum of generators but it was the billions of mosquitos vibrating the air with their sheer numbers.
A highlight of Glacier National Park, the Highline Trail traverses the center of the mountain ranges. It provides massive views of the surrounding landscapes and mountain ranges. The trails are well manicured and the trail allows for 30+ mile days.
Fifty Mountain Area
This gorgeous location is located on a high alpine plateau. It overlooks a spectacle that highlights the raw beauty of the Rocky Mountains. From this vantage point, over 50 mountains can be seen.
Triple Divide Peak
A notable peak within the park, it is a geographic oddity. This mountain is the dividing line for three drainages.
- To the north, all water flows to the Hudson Bay (Arctic Ocean).
- To the west, all water flows to the Pacific Ocean
- To the east, al water flows into the Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean)
Keep an eye out for Marmots, they are known to steal shoes, wallets, and even cameras!
Wild West Trail Notes
After the initial Bushwhack and river crossing on the western edge of the park, the trails open up. The best trail maintenance of the whole hike is found in Glacier National Park.
Permits. The permit system within the park limits the number of miles hikers can complete to 15 miles a day. We opted to take on the “no permit challenge” and were able to hit 30+ miles a day.