The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail begins in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier
National Park, right at the end of the Many Glacier Road. From there,
the trail has an almost flat walk among a mix of trees and some open
areas up to Fishercap Lake,
going over Swiftcurrent Creek in the process.
Fishercap Lake is not right on the trail itself. Instead, look for a
sign pointing the way down to the lake. The side trail is very short,
about 200 yards, and is perfectly flat. From the lake, you get a great
view of Grinnell Point and Mt. Grinnell, as well as the Continental Divide
looming in the distance. Right around the trail that leads down to Fishercap
Lake, look for some really “bizarre” shaped trees – that
have trunks in the shape of an upside down “s”.
Past the side trail to Fishercap Lake, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail continues
to pass through a mix of moderately forested areas and open areas. The
views you get while on the trail are still outstanding, though, as the
forest really isn’t that thick. The trail also begins a very gentle
climb – so gentle you’ll hardly notice it.
The trail then passes along the shores of Red
Rock Lake at mile marker 2.0. Red Rock Lake has excellent trout
fishing in it, so if you like to fish, bring a fishing rod. Red Rock
Lake is a surprisingly big lake, considering the valley it is tucked
away in. The mountains literally rise up from the lakes shore. You’ll
get great views from the lake of Mt. Grinnell and Grinnell Point. And,
as always, Swiftcurrent Mountain and the Continental Divide loom in
Shortly beyond Red Rock Lake, the trail nears Red Rock Falls, a relatively
small but scenic waterfall on Swiftcurrent Creek. Beyond the falls, the
Swiftcurrent Pass Trail begins to emerge into much more open terrain.
The forested areas are less thick, fewer in number and the trees themselves
are often a bit stunted due to the harsh terrain they grow in (this part
of the park can be windy and very cold in the winter).
As you begin to near Bullhead Lake the trail cuts through some beautiful
open meadows that provide stunning views of the Continental Divide, Mt.
Wilbur and Swiftcurrent Mountain. Be sure to stop and take some pictures
if the flowers in this meadow are in bloom.
After a 1.2 mile hike up from Red Rock Lake, you’ll reach Bullhead
Lake. Now, Bullhead Lake is actually “two lakes in one,” so
to speak. The two lakes are connected to each other by Swiftcurrent
Creek. The most outstanding views of the lake and surrounding countryside
are provided by hiking up to the upper lake, where the hiker will be
greeted by the massive Swiftcurrent Mountain rising more than 3000
vertical feet above the lake. It’s a beautiful site, only enhanced
by the towering presence of Mt. Wilbur and Mt. Grinnell.
Beyond Bullhead Lake, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail begins its 3 mile
ascent up to the top of Swiftcurrent Pass, gaining about 1500 vertical
feet in the process. Hikers who leave early in the morning and are in
decent shape should have plenty of time to hike up to the pass and still
get back in time for dinner.
For the more adventurous, a hiker can also
take a side trip from the pass up to the lookout tower that exists on
the top of Swiftcurrent Mountain. This trail, the Swiftcurrent Lookout
Trail, is 1.4 miles in length and has a vertical rise of 1600 feet from
the pass, so be forewarned.
Hikers can also continue over the pass and down the trail for .9 miles
to the comfy confines of Granite Park Chalet, where they can pick up
either the Highline Trail (to
head back towards Logan Pass) or the Loop
Trail (to head down to the “Loop” on the Going to the
Overall, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail provides for some absolute dynamite
views on a very easy hike. Anyone who is in the Many Glacier area of
Glacier National Park should definitely take a stroll up the trail. Even
a short hike will provide some breathtaking views. And for the more ambitious,
a hike up to Bullhead Lake is equally rewarding.
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the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
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