Glacier National Park

This summer I went on a Backpacking trip to Glacier National Park in Montanta.  Glacier had always been on my bucket-list for backpacking and I was excited to spend a week there in the back-country.  Four of us completed the 53 mile loop in six days.  Here is more info about the trip!

Route Info:

Day Start End Distance Elev up Elev Down
1 Many Glacier Elizabeth Lake 10.1mi 2480’ 2518’
2 Elizabeth Lake Mokowanis Junct 8.7mi 298’ 290’
3 Mokowanis Junct Fifty Mtn 13.9mi 5210’ 2725’
4 Rest Day!
5 Fifty Mtn Granite Park 11.9mi 1780’ 1910’
6 Granite Park Many Glacier 7.6mi 735’ 2255’

Glacier National Park Backcountry Camping Guide

Route Map:

View Many Glacier Loop in a larger map

Trip Log:

Day 1 – Ptarmigan Trailhead to Elizabeth Lake Campground

  • Total distance 10.1 miles.  2480′ up, 2518′ down.

On the first day we set out early from Kalispell, MT in order to give us enough time to complete the first 10.1 mile section of our hike.  We drove about 3 hours on the going to the sun road all the way to our trailhead at Many Glacier.


Just after the Many Glacier trailhead, looking towards the Ptarmigan wall.


The trail to elizabeth lake campground was 10.1 miles, and the first half was all uphill to the ptarmigan tunnel.  The first section had a lot of day hikers who had come out to climb up to the tunnel.


The Ptarmigan Tunnel.

The tunnel itself was really neat and it made for a great finish to the first climb.  After passing through the tunnel we were able to see Elizabeth Lake in the distance.


Elizabeth Lake, seen from the Ptarmigan wall.


Day 2 – Elizabeth Lake Campground to Mokowanis Junction Campground

  • Total distance 8.7 miles.  298′ up, 290′ down.

Our second day was only 8.7 miles with little elevation gain, we decided to relax at Elizabeth Lake in the morning and set out after lunch.


Kicking back at Elizabeth Lake.

A few miles in we hit the biggest stream crossing of the trip, but it wasn’t too difficult.  It was only a foot and a half deep and we did it easily with our shoes off.  The water was cold, but it felt nice!


River crossing.

Later that day we ran into a black bear and it’s cub on the trail.  They didn’t seem to mind our group at all and they went about their business looking for berries.


Black bear and cub.

Day 3 – Mokowanis Junction Campground to Fifty Mountain Campground

  • Total distance 13.9 miles.  5210′ up, 2725′ down.

Day 3 was by far the most challenging day of the trip.  I tried to see if we could camp that night at Stony Indian Campground when we picked up our permit, but it was full already.  We had no choice but to continue all the way to Fifty Mountain!

The day started with a 2500′ climb up to Stony Indian pass.  The view was great with a lot of waterfalls and snow drifts.


Looking down on Stony Indian Lake from Stony Indian Pass.

Between Stony Indian Pass and Fifty Mountain it was mostly in the trees.

The final climb of the day was another 2700′ climb that tested our physical and mental endurance, but the views towards the end were spectacular.  The campsite was also the group’s favorite because of the great views.


On our way to Fifty Mountain.

Day 4 – Rest Day!

There are a few day hikes can be done from Fifty Mountain Campground so it makes a good place to have a rest day.

Day 5 – Fifty Mountain Campground to Granite Park Campground

  • Total distance 11.9 miles.  1780′ up, 1910′ down.

Between Fifty Mountain and Granite Park, the path followed the contours of the mountain ridge for the length of the trail.  We were able to see some deer and marmots along the way.


Granite Park Campground was not our favorite site, since the river had dried up, and they really put the “out” in outhouse.


Quite the view!

Day 6 – Granite Park Campground to Ptarmigan Trailhead

  • Total distance 7.6 miles.  735′ up, 2255′ down.

On our final day we passed by the Granite Park Chalet shortly after leaving our campground.  We stopped to buy some cold drinks and relax.


The Granite Park Chalet



Inside the Granite Park Chalet

After climbing past swiftcurrent mountain, we began our descent down to Many Glacier.  We saw a few goats along the way.



We made it!  Hurrah!


The End!

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