An early addition to the National Park Service (park #10), Glacier National Park in Montana turned 100 on May 11, 2010. The park is immense, with 1 million acres (4,047 km2), 300 lakes and a reach of 1,584 square miles (4,103 km2). The park is considered the centerpiece of a vast region of protected land that includes some 16,000 square miles (41,440 km2). The park features some 700 miles of hiking trails and supports all manner of outdoor activities, such as biking, boating, fishing, and horseback riding. There are 13 campgrounds that allow for roughly 1000 campsites. Other accommodation options include hotels, inns, lodges and motels. Part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, this park has over 50 remaining glaciers and 130 named lakes under the tall Rocky Mountain peaks. There are historic hotels and a landmark road in this region of rapidly receding glaciers. These mountains, formed by an overthrust, have the world's best sedimentary fossils from the Proterozoic era.
This easy 2.7 mile out & back trail is located along the Inside North Fork Road, the map calls this Quartz Ridge, south of the Polebridge Ranger Station. The trailhead is on the west side of the road and is labeled Hidden Meadows. There is limited parking at the trail head for about three cars.
The trail begins in dense young pines, many of which are burned out from fires, with little more than 200ft elevation in the first half mile. As the trail levels you continue through pine forests with, at times, an alarming amount of bear activity along the trail and shoulders. Many of the dead pines have been torn down and apart by bears so be mindful and carry your bear spray.
Approximately 1 mile in the pine turns to an Aspen grove, while beautiful, it does get a bit closed in at times making the large amount of bear sign a bit unnerving. Just as you feel inclined to turn around from the mounting tension, the Aspen grove opens and you appear in a vast open field of grass. To the near left is Hidden Meadow Lake. To the north the meadow continues for some distance, which I did not continue into beyond the nearest lake side.
Inside of 200 meters from the meadow opening there is a large pine providing shade around its base. A good place to sit and take in the landscape, beware of potential critters doing the same thing, approach with caution. While no large mammals were seen, there is plenty of sign indicating their presence in the area. From the lone pine a walk of less than 200 meters will take you to the edge of Hidden Meadow Lake. Here was seen a family of Trumpeter Swans putting on a show for a few minutes.
In all a nice trail, very relaxing scenery at the end and better still, no other people on the trail. I had the trail and meadow to myself.
This is a review of the Upper Two Medicine Lake trail with Twin Falls by way of Two Medicine campground. In my case I chose to participate in the Ranger led hike to Upper Two Medicine with transportation provided by the Glacier Park Boat Co., of the total 10.5 miles approx. 4.2 are onboard the Sinopah.
From the West boat dock the trail to Upper Two Medicine is an easy 2.4 miles along boardwalks over marsh land, grasses and wild flowers, not to mention the vistas of the surrounding peaks. At approx. 1 mile an easy side trip to Twin Falls will add just .2 mile and twenty or so minutes to your total out and back of 5 miles. Once you reach Upper Two Medicine feel free to dip your toes or just go for a swim all together. There is a remote campground with logs and stumps for sitting while you enjoy a picnic before heading back to the boat, be bear aware in this location.
If you are camping in Two Medicine, add an additional 1 mile each way for your walk to the East boat dock. All in for the day you should track about 10.5 miles out and back. Whether you choose the Ranger led hike of venture up on your own, the Glacier Boat Co. provides an excellent experience to add to the general grandeur of Two Medicine. Be advised, the Ranger led hike has designated pickup/drop off times that take priority over the general ticket holders. For general ticket holders it would be advisable to not wait until the last boat time as there may be excessive lines and long delays getting back to the eastern shore, upwards of three boat loads worth of delayed passengers (this I witnessed).
Twin Falls is a diverting detour for those on their way to Upper Two Medicine Lake (it is a significant detour if you are heading up Dawson Pass from the west boat dock and probably not worth the added mileage). It is worth the walk from the Upper Two Medicine trail, either on your way up or down, as the level walk to the falls is not tasking in any way. The detour is about 20 minutes depending on how long you bask at the falls.
This easy loop trail is one of the most popular and busiest trail in the park, parking is difficult to find if not there early and the trail is very busy owing to its easability of access and difficulty level. Additionally, this is also the trailhead for the Avalanche Lake Trail. While there are some interesting and pretty scenes along the trail, if you don’t get there early and beat the crowds, in my opinion, it is not worth the effort. For the same reasons I would also avoid the Avalanche Lake Trail, as there are many waterfalls and picturesque lakes within the park with better access and fewer people.
Much of the hike is spent in thick woods or very tall huckleberry bushes (bring that bear spray!), but every once in a while you breakout into spectacular views. Lake Francis is beyond jaw dropping. Bring a fishing pole, you have to try to not catch a fish there. Great campground too. Would recommend it as an overnight trip. One of the best I've ever done!
Beyond spectacular! Completed this epic journey from Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 and caught near-perfect weather. Plenty of water along the entire trail, so I recommend traveling with little water as long as you have a good purification system. The most challenging portion of the hike is the ascent above Gunsight Lake to the pass. Mountain goats followed me from just above Gunsight Lake all the way to Sperry campground, posing for pictures along the way while begging for food. Someone seems to have been careless because the goats were extremely friendly and had no problem walking within inches from me. Saw 7 bears between Gunsight Pass and Lincoln Pass, mostly on eastern side of Lake Ellen Wilson. Juvenile black bear charged me on the very narrow trail/ledge near the waterfall on the eastern side of Lake Ellen Wilson below the pass. He decided to turn around after coming as close as 35 feet, standing on his hind legs and growling at me. Don't dally on this portion of the trail as there's absolutely no room to maneuver on little more than a 2-foot wide trail with a steep drop off to certain death. I carry a small air horn that worked well in keeping the bears at a distance. Spray should be a last resort. I highly recommend this trail late in the season as there were no ice fields and the colors made the view all the more surreal. You'll need to wade through 2 creeks because the footbridges had been taken down by then. Definitely the best hike I've had in Glacier or anywhere else on the planet.
This is considered the most popular trail in Glacier and I certainly understand why. You are walking through a temperate rainforest while walking past Avalanche Gorge, Avalanche acreek and finally, to the end of Avalanche Lake. Be sure to make the effort to go to the far end of the lake, it has a more attractive view.
Be sure to take some water and a lunch to enjoy at the lake.
Rebekah C. on Fish Lake Trail
Not a super great payout for the elevation gain plus there were mosquitos when we went to sit down by the lake. I'd go with another hike