Gunsight Pass Trail

HARD 11 reviews
#17 of 91 trails in

Gunsight Pass Trail is a 39 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near East Glacier Park, Montana that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.

39.0 miles 10022 feet Out & Back





nature trips





wild flowers


The Gunsight Pass Trail is 20.6 miles long starting on Going to the Sun Road between Logan Pass and St Mary Lake and ending at the Lake McDonald Lodge. With day hike access to 2 glaciers, stunning scenery and 3,000 feet of total climb, it is deserving of a multi day backpacking experience.

20 days ago

Beautiful scenic area. Bring bear mace

2 months ago

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.

5 months ago

Amazing views. I hiked from the trail head all the way to Mcdonnalds lake. Very amazing hike! Watch for goats and bears! The ice fields were sketchy, so bring ice axes or trek polls.

6 months ago

Amazing trail. Great condition. Marked perfectly. Hemlock grove and shade for first 2/3. And then mountain views for final 1/3 into sperry chalet. Amazing experience having lunch and coffee at chalet. We climbed 3400 ft in 6.4 miles.

1 year ago

Great backpacking trip - amazing views from Gunsight Pass after a great night camped at the lake. Lots of mountain goats, and a bear was wandering around camp on the way down. A few snow fields to cross, but in mid September it had not yet started snowing yet and was doable just with hiking shoes.

1 year ago

Always check conditions before going to see if you need an ice axe like we did, but absolutely gorgeous!!!! Mountain goats, bears and marmots.

3 years ago

We trained last spring in Austin to prepare for this great hike. This trail is only open about 100 days per year!
The trail is in good shape except for the initial
Portion of the lower trail which needs serious trimming. Be sure to bring bear spray as this is bear haven! The trail views are absolutely spectacular and can only be seen from a plane or on this hike.
Bring lots of water in late summer or bring water filter as we used both. We hiked in late august and while cool in the morning it got very warm in the afternoon sun and we went through about 40-50 ozs of water. You will encounter very friendly Mt goats on trail and two followed us for over a mile!
Best to acclimate to altitude before trying some of Glaciers hikes-- allow 3-4 days.
This is a serious hike but not technically hard. Just a long slow climb on day 1 crossing two Mt passes and crossing a snow field.
Plan ahead (by6-9 months) and stay at Sperry Chalet on the Mt. Well worth the cost for a great meal, entertainment by the staff and a comfortable bed!
The hike out is all downhill and enjoyable.
We did it at age 60 to celebrate!! We plan on going back and doing it again!
We took 8 1/2 hrs on day one and 4 hrs on day two and maintained a nice but enjoyable pace.

3 years ago

Very nice hike with wonderful views along the way along with some side trails worth of exploring. We hiked the trail in early June and only passed by one other person on the trail that day. Although we had to navigate through snow for the final 1 1/2 miles, it was worth it. As my wife and I stood by Gunsight Lake we were treated to; not one but two, avalanches that created snow falls that drained into the lake for almost 20 minutes; and only we got to see it, spectacular. I highly recommend this hike anytime you are in East Glacier

4 years ago

Just as nice as it was in 1965 when we climbed Mt Jackson and exited via Sperry Chalet.
This is a great hike with simple logistics. Start at the Apgar Transit Center at 0700 (be there early to get the first bus). Take the shuttle to Jackson Glacier overlook and have a vehicle waiting at Lake McD Lodge where you can swim and have a refreshing drink of your choice within minutes of completing your hike.

4 years ago

Most beautiful place I've ever been. It's a 6.2 hike to gunsight lake but well worth the hike. Total serenity and plenty of trout in the lake. Leave early because it takes 2.5 hours to get there and spend the day

5 years ago

Went as far as Speary Chalet and then spurred off up to Speary Glacier flat out amazing