Hard to find trailhead. Take green creek road just before red barn/gas station. Go up road. When it divides take table mountain road. Do not stop at "trailhead" unless you need to park trailer. Keep going straight about 2 more mile across stream and up the hill.
Trail starts up hill and gets real steep. Overall about 3 miles to Cairn. Get out early if you also plan on doing ptarmigan peak. Would be a long day and would than go up to 12000. Ascends about 2000 feet. Good views from the top. Bear country. Do not hike alone.
Definitely a hard trail. We attempt to summit but did not make the top. We were camping further from the base of the mountain than we had anticipated. On the mountain one of the snow bridges collapsed while we were there it was definitely a bit late to summit. Part of the trail was washed out by glacial melt. But by far one of the best backpacking trips I have done. Bear spray and bug spray highly recommended. Mosquitoes and horse flies were thick. Saw about 25 people around the base of the mountain maybe 3 on the glacial trail leading to Gannett.
Well worth the hike for the many spectacular views that you will see!!! My husband and I hiked just over 30 miles in 3 days. We started by backpacking up to Lake Elaine and camped there our first night. Absolutely amazing view!!! We saw probably 8-10 lakes throughout our hike. The evenings/mornings were a little chilly but with good camping gear we stayed warm at night. We did about half of our trip on trail and half off trail. I would recommend a good GPS to explore some of the off trail stuff like we did. Plus with a good GPS we were able to tell when we were in Montana and able to fish which was very helpful. Over all total we hiked almost 6,000 vertical feet...we did it without a lot of stopping but are in pretty good shape. I would highly recommend this to someone who wants a good workout and a wonderful view!!!! :)