We had very big plans for day 12 of our road trip: a 15.5 mile hike from Logan Pass along the Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet, then down through Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier. There were many logistics involved in doing a point-to-point hike like this, including needing to wake up around 5:30am in order to drive the 30 miles from our campsite at Rising Sun over to Many Glacier to park our car at the end of the hike.
We then took a shuttle back over to St. Mary Visitor Center, where we had to wait about an hour for a bus to shuttle us up to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. They highly recommend taking these shuttle buses throughout the park since there is limited parking at Logan Pass. There’s a limited number of buses though, plus there is a lot of construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road, so we didn’t end up getting to the start of the trail until around 10:30am.
The first leg of our journey took us along the Highline Trail about 8 miles to Granite Park Chalet. Many people do this as a roundtrip hike, or take a short trail from the Chalet down to Going-to-the-Sun road and catch a bus back up to Logan Pass. We wanted to see as much of the park as possible though, which is why we’d chosen to do the hike through to Many Glacier. We had quite the day ahead of us!
This cute mountain goat was hanging out on the rocks above us!
J was not very impressed with the single cable to hold onto as we walked along the ledge!
This first section of the trail, called the Garden Wall, follows the Continental Divide.
Looking back at Logan Pass.
There were lots of beautiful wildflowers along the next section of the trail.
Haystack Pass finally came into view – we’d reach it at about 3.5 miles into our journey.
One of our first glimpses of Heavens Peak.
This mountain goat lead us along the trail for a few hundred yards! (Mom, you would’ve loved it!)
The view from Haystack Pass.
We even got a view of the beginning of Going-to-the-Sun Road down below.
I really just couldn’t stop taking pictures of this view……..
Finally we were able to see Granite Park Chalet in the distance – the halfway point of our hike!
Seriously, it was way in the distance. I think it still took us about an hour to get there from this point.
The views across the valley to Heavens Peak were so gorgeous!
We reached the Chalet around 3pm. The Granite Park Chalet was built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway to provide accommodations inside Glacier National Park. It’s a National Historic Landmark! You can reserve a room there, and they also sell drinks and snacks to hikers. They have to helicopter supplies in, so you have to pack out everything you bring or buy. We stopped for a short break to eat our lunch and treated ourselves to a Gatorade and Snickers. We started back on our way at about 3:30pm. We still had another 7.5 miles to go to get to our car!
Us heading through Swiftcurrent Pass.
Our car was parked somewhere way out by the furthest lake!
It was a beautiful view over Swiftcurrent Valley!
J checking out Swiftcurrent Glacier…and wondering how the heck we were going to get down from here!
Another look at Swiftcurrent Glacier. I loved all the waterfalls coming off of it.
J was not excited about this part of the trail at all. The next 2.5 miles switchbacked down the side of this cliff. The trail here is pretty wide, but it kept getting narrower and narrower. Then it started sprinkling and we were really worried about how we’d get down if it really started raining.
This is the closest shot I have to show how steep the trail was. It kept getting narrower the further we went, with very loose rock that we were hiking on. Then pretty much a straight drop off down a cliff on the other side. For 2.5 miles! I got really scared when it started raining! I put my camera away at that point, so unfortunately I don’t have any more pictures to show what this part of the hike was like. There was one curve we were going around when a marmot jumped out in front of J and he fell to the ground cursing because it had scared him so badly. I thought he’d slipped and was falling, so I started freaking out. So we sat and laughed and cried for a few minutes and then pulled ourselves together and continued!
Slowly but surely we made our way down, a little bit at a time. Finally at this point I asked J to hand me his phone so I could take this picture of the trail in front of us. We felt like the trail was wide enough and we were a safe distance from the ground at this point!
And here’s the trail behind us, that we’d come down. I really wish I’d been able to get more pictures of the cliff we came down because it was terrifying, but at the time I was happy to just both make it down in one piece!
Swiftcurrent Valley from a more reasonable height.
Another shot at what we’d climbed down. We started over on the top right somewhere, then worked our way down that giant cliff.
We still had about 4 miles to hike to get to our car. We were so exhausted by the time we reached the valley that I didn’t end up taking many pictures of the lakes and waterfalls that we hiked past. It really was a beautiful end of the hike, but that cliff had taken it out of us!
Another shot looking back at what we’d hiked down.
Not so sure about this bridge…Load Limit one hiker at a time? How big of a hiker??
About a mile from the end of the trail, a family came hiking toward us and pointed out a side trail down to the lake and said a moose was right there! They were very excited about it, so we tried to decide if we had any energy left. If it’s right there then that would be pretty cool, so we decided to tough it out. We got down to the lake and discovered they meant it was right there way over on the other side of the lake! A tiny dot in the distance. Still very cool to see a moose, but after seeing one walk right in front of us the day before, and hiking nearly 15 miles that day, we were ready to just be done. We headed back up to the main trail and hobbled the final mile to the car (how do you limp on both legs?!). We arrived back at the car around 7pm and treated ourselves to showers! Then on the way back over to our campsite at Rising Sun, we stopped at Two Sisters Cafe and had the most amazing huckleberry pie!
It was an absolutely incredible day, and a one-of-a-kind hike. Here’s a map of the area we covered. Logan Pass is Point A, where we started, and Many Glacier, where we ended, is Point B.
Road Trip Recap:
Day 1: Indiana to South Dakota
Day 2: Across South Dakota: Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Iron Mountain Road, Needles Highway, and Crazy Horse
Day 3: Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower, and across Wyoming
Day 4: Grand Teton National Park
Day 5: Cascade Canyon
Day 6: Jackson Hole
Day 7: Amphitheater Lake
Day 8: Yellowstone National Park: West Thumb Geyser Basin, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Tower Falls
Day 9: More Yellowstone: Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and Mammoth Hot Springs
Day 10: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, across Montana, and Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
Day 11: Iceberg Lake
Nikki Torok says
I was wondering when you did this hike… we are trying to decide the dates of our trip and want to make sure the entire trail is cleared. Any advice you have for this hike would be appreciated as well.