Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop [CLOSED]

hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(132)
Glacier National Park

Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop is a 17.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near East Glacier Park Village, Montana that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking.

Distance: 17.2 miles Elevation Gain: 3,641 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

closed

no dogs

This trail is experiencing full or partial closure due to COVID-19. Please see the open trails nearby for alternate hiking options.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike 2 summers ago and went counter clockwise. Stunning views! Finished it in a day and was just under 20 miles.

hiking
3 months ago

My husband and I are looking at coming to Glacier to hike and camp for a summer vacation. We have 2 kids 9 and 12. Is this trail appropriate for them. Thanks for any and all advice!

hiking
8 months ago

Chased by large bull

hiking
8 months ago

This is probably one of the best hikes you will ever do. The views are endless and it's nice and long so you feel like you're getting a great workout. Did not take the boat, ended up at 19.5 miles or something close to that. Did it clockwise, which for someone who has a slight fear of heights is a good choice. When you're doing the section between the two passes you will be heading up and not looking down at the things you could fall into, it is a kinda sketchy section, but amazing. Wish we had backpacked instead of doing all at once, the area is just incredible and would have liked more time.

hiking
8 months ago

Went clockwise on a cold, early morning. Goats blocking the trail just before Dawson pass. Beautiful fall colors on the way up. Clouds took over visibility at the top and winds were strong. Goat trail around the mountain not for those with a fear of heights. Amazing views on the way down!

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked clockwise, started with the quick boat ride to cut off a few flat miles at the beginning. Nice forest trail for the first segment up Dawson pass before getting above tree line, saw a couple moose. The elevation gain didn’t feel too bad, nice grade and set of switchbacks. The top of the pass was WINDY, it’s loud and a bit jarring. The 3 mile balcony trail between passes was enjoyable; it’s just a very unique/memorable segment. Our favorite lakes were the two glorious blue lakes (Pitamaken Lake) before headed down Pitamaken Pass. Lunch by Old Man lake. Ran a few lovely miles on the downhill, such wonderful trail. GPS watch clocked almost 17miles from drop off boat dock to trailhead. Remember boat launch and trailhead are not next to each other, requires a bit more walking.

hiking
8 months ago

This was a bucket list hike for me! After living here 20 years we did it! Hiked it 8/19. Absolutely beautiful! Went clockwise. Took the boat in the morning to cut a couple miles. Last six seemed to drag on forever! But the views and beauty of this hike made it all worth it. Saw two moose and a marmot! We were lucky enough to have a wind-free day in Two Med which was great! Highly recommend...take all day and enjoy!

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked 8/25/19 clockwise. The only reason I recommend following the clockwise advice is because of the views and sun, otherwise the steepness wasn’t much of a difference. The part between Dawson pass -> Pitamakan was definitely not for those afraid of heights. I’m not afraid of heights and even I found parts of the trail a little sketchy. Recorded 19.9 miles in 8.5 hours, with stopping for lunch at Dawson Pass and dipping our feet in old man lake for a little while. The last 6 miles were pretty flat but seemed to drag on for a longggg time. The views and trail were unreal all together, highly recommend!

hiking
9 months ago

We did this hike starting on the Pitamakan side four days ago. We truly enjoyed every minute of it!! The views are always changing starting in the forest and then ascending above treeline with fantastic views of the peaks. There’s also a bunch of lakes you see on the way! It wasn’t crowded by any means, but there was a reassuring amount of people on the trail. For us it was almost exactly 17 miles to the lake where we took the boat to the parking lot.

hiking
9 months ago

Did Dawson Pass to Pitamaken Peak, first couple miles a breeze, only temptation was to stop and pick all the huckleberries as long the way. It was good long incline to the top, was worried about going this way because of the incline distance but not bad at all! The wind was blowing so hard on the top though. I would not have attempted to cross without trekking poles, the combo of a narrow trail, shale rock, and wind so strong it could blow you over, little terrifying but the views make it all worth it. Saw a few people just in tshirts- nope it was freezing with the wind. Bring lots of layers with you as the temperature will drastically fluctuate each part if this hike! Pitamaken Peak had a few good spots to stop and have lunch and then started the loop back, good decline for a few miles, then levels out and turns into the never ending trail. Not going to lie, last few miles were brutal just because of the distance factor! I am glad now we started with Dawson Pass, as it was much better views on the way down and I would have hated having to see what we were climbing up the whole time.

hiking
9 months ago

This was a great but tough hike- my husband and I completed the loop in 8.5 hours with a few short stops. We hiked the loop clockwise and started around 7am. Weather was great and we even saw two moose (including a bull who blocked the trail) about 4 miles in. The views at Dawson Pass and on the trail to Pitamakan pass were AMAZING. The lakes along the hike are crazy blue. Well worth the effort.

hiking
9 months ago

quite the adventure! we went counterclockwise, but I think I would have preferred to have gone clockwise to get killer views on the way to Dawson Pass

backpacking
9 months ago

We did a variation of this as a three-day backpacking trip, with detours to Cobalt Lake, Two Medicine Pass, and Morning Star Lake. The section that follows the ridge between Dawson and Pitamakan passes is one of the most memorable hikes we did in the park - incredible 360 views of the surrounding peaks, glaciers, and valley below. Certainly worth doing this loop. I liked the addition of Cobalt Lake/Two Medicine Pass. Morning Star Lake wasn't as interesting.

Great trail! Loved every mile of it!

hiking
no shade
9 months ago

I did this hike starting with a boat ride in the Dawson->Pitamakan direction and that's the direction I recommend. Dawson is steeper than Pit. and you want to go that path up, not down. the views are incredible as the trail goes along a high ridge and offers 360 degree views. the path down is brutal as you're going down 3600 feet, bring hiking poles and learn how to use them or your knees will end up like mine (1.5 days of bedrest and pain killers). Overall a great though difficult hike.

hiking
9 months ago

It was incredible. We hiked it counterclockwise in 10 hours with stops and taking our time. It ended up being about 19 miles. We hiked it on 8/5/19, it was a little hazy because of recent fires in Helena. I’ve hiked over 400 miles of Glacier and this hike is definitely in my top 5!! You won’t regret it no matter what direction you go!

hiking
9 months ago

This is an amazing hike with amazing views! Definitely not for the faint of heart or for someone with a fear of heights. We did this hike clockwise with a good climb up at the start and you descend at a decent rate coming back around also. Will be doing this one again!

hiking
9 months ago

Great Trail I would put it maybe number 1 at Glacier. Initial climb was a challenge 2500 feet, but well worth it the views were spectacular. They say very few bears at 3 medicine but my wife and I came face to face with 3 Grizzly bears so be prepared take bear spray. Fortunately the 3 bears took off down the trail and left us alone.

hiking
10 months ago

Favorite hike I've done in Glacier, to date! It took us about 7 hrs and 20 minutes to do the whole thing, and that's with stopping to eat, taking some breaks to enjoy the unbelieveable smorgasbord of scenery, etc. It was an extra windy day so winds in the 4ish mile connector between the two passes were probably 80mph, with 90mph gusts that knocked us over a handful of times! But like I said, it was a super windy day to begin with. I want to do this hike again!

hiking
10 months ago

Easily my favorite hike in the park!!

hiking
10 months ago

July 22, 2019. Great hike! We followed the app and went clockwise - happy to do elevation quickly. The opposite way would have been a long uphill. Its an easy walk to No Name lake, then switchbacks up the elevation to reach Dawson Pass. The elevation took us 75 minutes. From there we enjoyed the amazing walk along the ridge to Pitamakan Pass. It took us 3.5 hours from there, all downhill, to Old Man lake and the trail back to the trail head. Well maintained trail - thank you GNP! We had beautiful weather- no wind for us!

hiking
bugs
rocky
10 months ago

Great trail overall, but definitely an exhausting one. Me and a friend tracked this to be longer and more elevation by a good bit than stated on Alltrails so make sure to stock up on water and food. Also bug spray is a must. Despite this the views are worth every bit of the challenge as they are truly spectacular. Lots of wildlife on the trail too. We saw a few marmots and 6 long horned goats went straight by us.

hiking
10 months ago

Did clockwise loop after research. Would recommend that way for sure High winds and great views!

hiking
10 months ago

This is my third visit to Glacier National Park, and this hike is my favorite. We visited two years ago in early June and there was too much snow to do this hike. Just did this yesterday, 5 July, and the trail was clear (one ~50m length of snow to walk across). We went from the Two Medicine Lake Campground up the Pitamakan side and down the Dawson side, back to the campground. GPS said the loop was 19.3 miles. The first five or six miles up the Pitamakan side are pretty easy, doesn’t start to get steep until you hit the switchbacks. Going down Dawson was a steep downhill most of the way, but beautiful views to distract you!

hiking
muddy
over grown
10 months ago

Rainy and mostly cloudy day, much of trail is muddy but views at the top are spectacular. Long stretches of being exposed between pita and two medicine, but saw two moose on Dawson side.

hiking
11 months ago

7/1/19 - It’s difficult to contribute much to the existing conversation here. This looped proved to be the capstone of our Glacier hiking. We opted for the counterclockwise route, but could make just as much of an argument for the reverse. Either way, if you have the fitness, take the hike. The views after the climb (from either direction) are equalled by few others. The hike has it all mystical forest paths, deep valley sweeps, lakes, falls and endless peak views. It GPS’d at 18.4 miles with cumulative elevation gain of +4500. Take lunch and enjoy it at Pitamakan Pass (it was MUCH less windy than Dawson’s).

hiking
bugs
muddy
snow
11 months ago

This trail is over-rated and over-hyped. We had high expectations for this hike, but were somewhat disappointed. We hiked it counterclockwise getting to Pitamakan pass first. We were thinking of turning around there because the rangers had told us the path between Pitamakan and Dawson pass was closed off by snow, but we saw several hikers completing the loop, so we decided to continue on. The last mile and a half up to Pitamakan pass had very good scenery. The path from Pitamakan and Dawson pass is also very good as you look down on a part of the national park you probably won't get a view of on any other route. The path is very narrow, and I can imagine why it would be impassable if there was a lot of snow on it. We did not see any signs on Dawson pass and almost got lost before we found trail back to Two Medicine. That trail is very rough, and extremely steep. Lots of steps too. We were glad we did the hike counter-clockwise since if we had tried doing it clockwise, we would have probably given up after reaching Dawson pass. The scenery is good at higher elevations, but tends to be the same scenery for long stretches. Not one of these hikes where every turn opens up a new vista. At the lower elevations, it is mostly bug country with no scenery.

Showing results 1 - 27 of 132