Montana: Glacier National Park- North Circle Route- Logan Pass to Granite Park- Day 1

Logan Pass to Granite Park

Total Mileage- 8.0 miles

Total Elevation Gain- Approximately 900 feet

Total Elevation Loss- <100 feet

glacier-map route Day 1

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We parked at The Loop, as we would be finishing Flattop Mountain Trail there on Day 8, and took a park shuttle to Logan Pass to begin our hike on Highline Trail. Once you are in the parking lot, which is quite busy in the summer with tourists, you will find Highline Trail located on the north side of the parking lot across Going to the Sun Road.

Highline immediately begins to ascend at a very nice grade above Going to the Sun Road and one can see cars backed up for miles. On this particular day everyone had stopped to see the Big Horned Sheep that were grazing near the road.

Our route for the next couple of days to Granite Park and Many Glacier would prove to be areas where tourists gathered for summer vacations and day hikes. This wasn’t a big deal because the remaining six days would be as remote as anything we had ever done.

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The trails were a powdery dirt with fine rocks. This came as a huge relief, as much of our backcountry hiking in the Rockies the year before were… well… really rocky and hard on the ankles. While portions of the North Circle Route in the touristy are wide and heavily used, the more remote portions are not heavily used, very narrow, and full of overgrowth. But more on that later.

The views from Logan Pass to Granite park were nothing short of magnificent. We found out very quickly that our vocabulary was sorely lacking in being able to describe what we were seeing. You can only use words like “beautiful” and “stunning” so much… until you realize the best thing to do is just stand there in awe and not say a word.

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The hike from Logan Pass to Granite Park is an easy hike by any standard. Even with 40 pound packs we did not exert much effort at all. Granted, eight miles is eight miles… and you can usually go about 2 miles per hour with a heavy pack… so it took us around four hours to reach Granite Park.

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Close to the midway point of this hike you will reach the Garden Wall, which is a spectacular view of several mountain peaks but also of the colorful wildflowers that blanket the area. Once we passed Haystack Butte we stopped for some views and a quick snack.

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One thing to keep in mind if you are hiking this route in the mid to latter part of July is that it can still get quite cool at times.

If you look closely in the distance on the second half of Highline Trail you will begin to see Granite Park Chalet. This marker, while it proved to be very close to where we would be camping, was quite deceptive. We could see it from several miles away and thought we were much closer. It was surprising how long it took us to make it to the chalet, but once we made it there we were just five minutes from our campsite for the night.

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IMG_6275Despite calling the Backcountry Office before leaving Indiana, being told that the temperatures were running warmer than the seasonal averages, and that we would not need warm jackets or gloves… we were definitely getting cold once we reached Granite Park around 7pm. We started the hike around 3pm because we had to pick up our backcountry permit, watch a 30 minute instructional video, and then shuttle to Logan Pass. While we didn’t have warm jackets or gloves, we just added more shirt layers and wind breakers.

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Granite Park camp has designated areas for camping and eating. It is mandatory you eat and that your bagged food is hung up by rope in the food area. Yes, bears and other wildlife will come after your food. Do not have your food in any other areas because animals will take it.

The next post will detail our trek from Granite Park to Many Glacier.

peace…

brandon

3 thoughts on “Montana: Glacier National Park- North Circle Route- Logan Pass to Granite Park- Day 1

  1. Thanks for posting this. I did the North Circle, starting and ending at Many Glacier, in Aug 1971 as I ended my Air Force time in Great Falls. No bears, no rain and I don’t recall any overgrown trails. Perhaps that is a result of the forest fires. Anyway, it was fun reliving the adventure.

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