Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop is a 17.6 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near East Glacier Park, Montana that features a lake. The trail is only recommended for very experienced adventurers and primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and backpacking.
Glacier Park Inc. P.O. Box 2025, Columbia Falls, Montana 59912 406-8922525
This one's been on my list for a long time and served as the centerpiece for my pilgrimage to Glacier. It was a beautiful fall day for my first ever steps on the CDT (I did the loop counter clockwise).
Huckleberries were abundant with plenty of brush and wooded areas along the north and south sides - prime bear habitat. None spotted, perhaps due to relentless yodeling. I kept the spray in reach and the songs in heavy rotation. I was lucky enough to bump into some nice folks on the Dawson side who I allowed to pass ahead and function as my unwitting "bear plow" to rest my weary pipes!
Since it was my first trek on the CDT ( and the Northern Rockies ), I can only describe the experience from a novice perspective, knowing nothing of all the other wonders that abound in this part of the country. Nevertheless, reaching the summit and traveling around the passes was like walking on top of the world. Never have I been more awed at my surroundings, nor felt so alien on my own planet. Indescribably beautiful and hauntingly so - it's understandable Kubrick used this location for the opening scenes of The Shining.
Boy, it's windy up there too! Trekking poles came in might handy for maneuvering around the passes. There was also just enough snow around to make for some slippery conditions across some fairly steep slopes toward the Dawson Pass.
Otherwise, a very well maintained loop, easily done in a long day.......and a dream fulfilled!
Lets do it again!
Tremendous hike with epic views at the top. We went up the Dawson Pass side first starting at the North Shore trail head in the campground at 2 medicine lake. First couple miles are easy but about 5 miles in you hit about 2 miles of tough switchbacks up to the top through Dawson Pass. Don't give up though! The uphill climb is worth the effort. Eat some huckleberries to ease the pain! Eat lunch at the top. Best views in the park. The afternoon hike down Pitmakan Pass is much easier and you get some great scenic views and maybe the chance to see mountain goats and big horn sheep on the trail. Overall starting at North Shore trail head our GPS said we went 18.50 miles.
Totally worth the aches and pain that come with backpacking!! We hiked to old man lake as our first stop and then did a second night at no name lake. I definitely think that way around the loop was a little easier as far as the elevation gain goes. But stunning views between the passes---one of my favorite hikes of my glacier trip. Just beware between the passes from old man to no name lakes, you won't find any water water sources. Loved it and would definitely recommend the backpacking experience. I would recommend it as a day hike if you are in pretty good shape and definitely leave early so you have time to enjoy the views and hike along the ridge.
Hike 45 miles from Two Medicine Campground to No Name Lake to Dawson Pass to Pitamakan Pass to Old Man Lake to Morning Star Campground to Atlantic Creek to Triple Divide Pass to Red Eagle Lake (Foot) to Lake St Mary Entrance. This was my 4th hike in Glacier but by far the most spectacular of any trips I have completed. Highly recommend, High winds between Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass,
Challenging, but worth it as the views are world class. Definitely check the weather before heading up as you are in the clouds for a while.
Wonderful trail. Very few people and well worth the effort. Spectacular views. If heights are a problem, it might be tough. View the pictures of the trail and judge for yourself.
Amazing hike! But a long one.
The Pitamakan/Dawson pass loop is my favorite hike in glacier. It's a long one (17 mi) and demanding. We took the ferry across two medicine lake, that shaved off a few miles. Then there is a steep accent up to the pass 2000 ft in 2 miles ouch. But then you are on top of the world for miles walking along the continental divide for a about 3 miles on a tiny trail cut into a a skree cliff. The views are amazing and the trail will get your adrenalin flowing. If you are afraid of heights this is not the hike for you.
Excellent hike. Very windy in the pass. Lots of bear signs and sheep everywhere.
We only went to Oldman Lake right below the pass. The day we went there was a tremendous amount of fog so thought the effort to hike that last mile wit uno views wouldn't be worth it. Otherwise, an incredible hike in general and Oldman Lake was just lovely with a blanket of fog surrounding the bowl it sat in. Cannot go wrong in Glacier!
I hike a lot and this is one of those trails that stands out! We went in early September after a big snow storm. It just happened to be at a time when the rams were in rut. We sat up there on the top of the pass and ate lunch and listened to the clashing for hours. We had it almost to ourselves bc conditions weren't ideal. It is a strenuous hike, so make sure your prepared physically. I highly recommend it!
Gotta stop for a photo at pitamakan overlook