Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop

HARD 53 reviews
#22 of 119 trails in

Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop is a 17.2 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.

17.2 miles
3,641 feet









wild flowers


no dogs

Glacier Park Inc. P.O. Box 2025, Columbia Falls, Montana 59912 406-8922525

2 days ago

My husband and I did an out and back to Dawson’s Pass today. Incredible views! This trail exceeded our expectations.

3 days ago

I wish I could give this hike 10 stars.

The day before we did this, we were up on top of Siyeh Pass trail and met a couple that has been coming here since 1975. When asking them for hike suggestions to wrap up our last days in the park, they said that Dawson/Pitamakan was their favorite day hike in the park and that we absolutely have to do it. If there is anyone I trust in the world to give me a great hike suggestion for this park, it's this couple who has been coming here for 43 years and says that this one is their favorite.

Upon their suggestion, we did the loop counter-clockwise because they said the views progress better this way. An they were absolutely correct. This was the most unbelievable hike I've ever done. I've never felt more on top of the world in my entire life. You're just completely out in the open with stunning peaks and passes in the distance. You feel like an ant. Every half mile or so seemed to be the new greatest thing I've ever seen. And that's after doing Grinnell, Siyeh Pass, Highline, Avalanche Lake, and Hidden Lake in the days before. We ended up seeing a big horn male sheep and hiked 17.8 miles in 9 hrs and 45 mins.

If you're fast, you can catch a boat tour ride back on Two Medicine lake which will shave about 3 miles off of your trip. We were not quick enough but we got kind of a late start. The nice thing is that we snagged a Two Medicine first come first serve campground spot which is where the trail head is. So we finished the hike and went right into our tent.

If you're fit enough, this is an absolute must do and bucket-list hike for everyone. Amazing.

4 days ago

My husband and I did this as part of a 3 day 2 night backpacking trip. We started the trail from two medicine and hiked counterclockwise (100% recommend starting this way). Starts out with a gradual incline and is very dense forest. Be aware of bears & make a lot of noise. About 3 miles In we turned a counter and saw a grizzly with 2 cubs. We backed off and waited a half mile down the trail for a few more groups of hikers then proceeded through the area making a lot of noise and they were gone. A couple other groups said they saw some bears on that side of the trail too. Once out of the tree line the incline increases until you reach the top. It was windy but the views are beautiful! Not a lot of people up there. We hiked down to no name lake where we camped for the night. There was a moose that was walking around the creek by our campsite. It’s a very beautiful lake about 0.2 miles off the trail to take a break or even a swim. Our last day we finished the last ~5 miles back to the campground. There are a lot of streams and beautiful scenery the entire loop. A lot of hikers do the loop in one day. We enjoyed breaking it up but carrying our packs was strenuous. Definitely recommend doing this trail, but definitely be in a group to avoid any run ins with bears.

6 days ago

A great hike! If I re-did it id come back in September to hike again. In the summer this trail can get hot if you aren't used to high temps. Coming from the SW I am used to it. This trail gives you a bit of everything and is a much less crowded trail if that is what you are looking for. I recommend doing the loop counterclockwise so after all the elevation changes you can stop in at no name lake and take a dip. Bring bug and bear spray!

15 days ago

We loved this hike! It is no joke and will test you throughout, but the views are well worth it. We ran into a moose as well by Upper Two Medicine Lake. Would love to do this again when back in Glacier.

21 days ago

Started at 8:00 am and finished it around 5:00 pm including a long break at pitamakan lookout.
I've heard about an option of using boat to cross the lake but my stupid ego didn't let me.
I did it counter clockwise (from pitamakan to dawson) and recommend it. Yes elevation gain is tough but it's doable. It isn't as dramatic as it sounds. For some reason, dawson pass looked more difficult for gaining elevation in my opinion.
The view is spectacular and very worth it.
bring plenty of water and bug spray.
wear long pants for potential poison ivy since you go through in forest for good miles.
I wore shorts and didn't get poison ivy but there were lots of suspicious ones.

6 months ago

The view during mid summer is magnificent. By far one of the most challenging climbs for me due to the pace we were going at, but completely worth every second!

10 months ago

This trail is awesome. Counter-clockwise is the only way to go. Yes, you gain elevation quickly but the switchbacks aren’t bad and you save yourself miles upon miles of a slow slog of an uphill.

11 months ago

I know it's at 5 stars, but this trail is still underrated. I went to Two Medicine to try and avoid the smoke elsewhere in the park, so was a little disappointed when I awoke to a haze. Not even the smoke could prevent this from being a great hike; I went clockwise, and it was nice to have the lake views under morning light. Added the No Name Lake and Old Man Lake spurs, since they are short and you are so close already. 17.6 miles is a short estimate -- park brochure lists at 18.8 mi, spurs made it close to an even 20. Took 7-7.5 hours.

Keeping this on my to-do list for the future, because I'm sure it's even better outside wildfire season.

11 months ago

Worth the distance for sure! Make sure to hike up to Pitamikin Pass first so the wind is coming at you on the pass and the hike in between rather than feeling like you're going to be blown off a mountain.

11 months ago

Worth the distance for sure! Make sure to hike up to Pitamikin Pass first so the wind is coming at you on the pass and the hike in between rather than feeling like you're going to be blown off a mountain.

11 months ago

I have been in Montana for 11 days, hiking the entire time, and this is my absolute favorite hike in Glacier. I am SO happy I did this one. I did the hike in one day. Took about 7 hours. My fitbit clocked it at a little over 19.9 miles. I did it clockwise (Dawson then Pitamaken). I recommend doing it this way. The elevation gain takes longer, but it's slower and steadier. Doing it the other way, you gain an insane amount of elevation in a very short distance. Haven't done it that way, but I imagine it's exhausting. I guess it depends what you're into. Slow and steady gain with normal amount of downhill to finish. Or rapid intense gain, with a very very long downhill to finish the hike. Either way, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this hike! The views are breathtaking! Expect lots of wind at the top between passes! This was the most rewarding hike I did during my trip.

11 months ago

Turned out to be the most rewarding and most difficult day hike of my week in Glacier. I personally recommend going towards Old Man Lake then going down to No Name/Two Medicine as the steady incline the whole way looked a lot better than the rapid increase on the opposite side. Going down No Name was rough on the legs, but I don't think it's avoidable here as the descending trail on either side is roughly 6-8 miles either way.

Dawson Pass was windy as hell but that should be expected. There's a great spot where the wind is calm after it for photos and lunch, but otherwise I recommend trekking through the whole pass. The wind got to me a little bit, it's about ~4 miles of steady in your face wind (my hike started around 0745)

Recommend 4L+ of water or a purifier as No Name/Two medicine/Old Man all have plethora of water (and more streams in between No Name and Two Medicine). I had about 3.5L and was worn out by the wind, the sun and the hike and just finished my water by the time I got to two medicine. This was the toughest day hike I did in the park but was definitely the best

Friday, August 18, 2017

I've never seen such beauty in such little time! Whatever you do go COUNTERCLOCKWISE! We heard a camp host said he was telling people clockwise was easier. Not a chance at a 7 mile steady incline to Dawson Pass.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Simply spectacular! Long day but worth it

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Hard but super awesome and worth it! Make sure to have enough water if you are going counter clockwise, before the pitamakan pass

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Absolutely beautiful hike. Old Man Lake was gorgeous and COLD!!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

We hiked this trail on June 27, 2017. We did the Pitamakan trail to allmost the top of Dawson Pass, maybe less then a quartermile from the top of the pass and then there was a sheet of snow at a very steep angle and we didn't want to chance it especially not knowing what the other side looked like. The Pitamakan Trail was the best trail we did in the park, it got very slow towards the pass with the steep assents, but most amazing views of all the hikes. We started at the campground by the bridge then after the bridge turned right. We did 8.3 miles to the pass then turned around and did 8.3 miles back to the car. It was obviously a lot faster comeing back. It was 3,096' rlevation gain on the 8.3 miles out and a couple hundred on the way back. We didn't see any bears, but a Marmot. There were not many hikers on this trail which was nice, but we played music in the dense forrest areas so we wouldn't surprise the bears.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This one had 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 mighty 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!

Thursday, September 01, 2016


Saturday, August 27, 2016

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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

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.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

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,

Sunday, August 14, 2016

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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

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.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Amazing hike! But a long one.

Friday, September 25, 2015

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.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Excellent hike. Very windy in the pass. Lots of bear signs and sheep everywhere.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

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!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

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!

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