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Photo by Patrick Colleran
Jul 14 2017

Escape the Crowds, Keep the Views

Five awesome day hikes near Glacier National Park

Exploring Montana

Glacier National Park has unbelievable hiking, but, in the heart of summer, it can also have unbelievable crowds. Fortunately, the views, wildlife, and mountains don’t stop at the park boundary. There are ample opportunities for amazing adventures near Glacier.

Here are five suggestions for hikes near Glacier National Park that are sure to be hit. More in-depth descriptions of these trips, and more than 300 other Montana hiking trails, can be found on our online trail guide at hikewildmontana.org.

Cyclone Lookout
Whitefish Proposed Wilderness
Flathead National Forest
Roundtrip: 5.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,041 feet

This great hike will take you near the northwestern boundary of Glacier. It is a mellow climb through the trees that ends at an active fire lookout. From the lookout, there are amazing views into the park, Whitefish Range (80,000 of which is proposed for future Wilderness protections), and Canadian Rockies. In addition to the views, it is an unbeatable chance to pick huckleberries when the season is right. Be sure to stop at the Polebridge Mercantile afterward to stock up on yummy pastries and a cold drink.

Mt. Aeneas
Jewel Basin Hiking and Riding Area
Flathead National Forest
Roundtrip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet

This hike is a must-do. It’s one of the most accessible peaks in the area with sweeping views of the Flathead Valley, peaks in Glacier, and Jewel Basin (a place we hope will be Wilderness one day). It also offers a great chance to see mountain goats and pick huckleberries.

Hall Creek
Badger-Two Medicine area
Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest
Roundtrip: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Just south of Glacier National Park, this is a great day trip into the wild and sacred Badger-Two Medicine area, the site of the Blackfeet origination store. Your destination is a beautiful, wildflower-filled meadow in the heart of the Badger. This was the proposed site of an oil and gas well that Montana Wilderness Association and the Blackfeet Nation have been fighting to stop for over three decades. Look closely and you will see the remains of a sweat lodge ceremony conducted years ago to pray for the protection of the Badger.

Link Lake
Whitefish Proposed Wilderness
Flathead National Forest
Roundtrip: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 588 feet

Link Lake is a great family destination for fishing and swimming. Clear waters and abundant wildflowers make a great backdrop. For more ambitious hikers, you can continue up Nasukoin Ridge, where you’ll have vast views of the Whitefish Proposed Wilderness and the peaks of Glacier National Park.

Warrior Mountain
Bunker Creek Proposed Addition to the Bob Marshall Wilderness
Flathead National Forest
Roundtrip Distance:  10 mi.
Total Elevation Gain:  3,500 ft.

A hike rich in views. Your biggest challenge may be to avoid stepping on wildflowers during the last half-mile. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of the wild Swan Range and, on a clear day, views of Glacier National Park’s peaks. You’ll be standing at the head of Bunker Creek, an area left out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness back in 1964, but wild enough to be added someday soon.

- Emily Harkness, MWA volunteer