Hiking Glacier National Park
The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

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The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail in Glacier National Park is an outstanding hiking trail that not only provides superb views but is also an incredibly easy hike for most of the trails length. Anyone in search of good views while in Glacier National Park, and who does not want to take a challenging hike, should make time to spend on this beautiful hiking trail.

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, like many of the most scenic hikes in Glacier National Park, begins in the Many Glacier Valley area. The trailhead begins at the end of the Many Glacier Road, right in front of the concession store and restaurant that is located in Many Glacier.

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail itself is essentially divided up into two sections, the easy section and the “climb” section. The easy section of the trail runs for about 4 miles, up to Bullhead Lake, passing Fishercap Lake and Red Rock Lake along the way. This part of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail consists of very gradual rises followed by long periods of flat hiking. The views from this part of the trail are, quite simply, gorgeous. When hiking the “easy” part of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail you get beautiful views of Mt. Wilbur, Grinnell Point, Mt. Grinnell, the Continental Divide and Swiftcurrent Mountain.

The “climb” part of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail extends from the head of Bullhead Lake and begins a long climb up to the top of the Continental Divide, going over the divide at Swiftcurrent Pass. From there, a hiker can either continue hiking uphill to the Swiftcurrent Lookout tower or take the easy 1 mile walk downhill to the Granite Park Chalet, where you can pick up the Highline Trail or the Loop Trail.

Mt. Wilbur seen from the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
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This section on Big Sky Fishing will cover the “easy” section of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, or the part of the trail that leads up to Bullhead Lake. The upper section of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, unfortunately, was closed when I went hiking there due to extensive snow cover (few high elevation trails are open in early June in Glacier).

The first part of this hiking guide to the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail provides a quick overview. The second part will provide some information on what to bring. And the last section (next page) will provide detail about the hike itself. Also be sure to check out the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail Photo Gallery, too.

Swiftcurrent Pass Trail : Overview

As mentioned, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail begins in Many Glacier. The trail is quite easy up to Bullhead Lake, with a vertical gain of less than 500 vertical feet. The trail passes by several lakes, including Fishercap Lake (.8 miles) and Red Rock Lake (2.0) miles and finally reaches the outlet of Bullhead Lake at 3.3 miles. Beyond Bullhead Lake, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail begins a 3 mile climb up to Swiftcurrent Pass, gaining about 2000 vertical feet in the process. From the top of Swiftcurrent Pass, the trail drops down for .9 miles to the Granite Park Chalet on the Highline Trail.

What to Take

Photo Use Guidelines

The hiking gear to take on the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail is pretty much the same as on other backcountry hikes in the park. A hiker should have a good pair of hiking boots (don’t use sandals or sneakers), a rain jacket that can double as a wind break, sunglasses, 2 quarts of water (use a hydration system), and a decent day pack. Other things to not forget include a fishing rod (there is excellent fishing in Red Rock Lake), a camera, hat, and some convertible hiking pants (these pants turn into shorts and are designed for hiking in all sorts of conditions).

Also, another very important thing to not leave behind is the bear spray. The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail passes through some very nice habitat for bears. While the crowds that use the trail tend to keep the bears away from the trail, the bears can none-the-less end up on the trail from time to time. So, better safe than sorry, as they say. A lunch is also a good idea if you plan on hiking up to Bullhead Lake – as it makes for a fine “lunch stop.”

Next Page : Hiking the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail : In Detail

Also View the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail Photo Gallery

Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Boots : Buyers guide to getting the right boot for hiking
Hiking Socks : Guide to getting the right sock for hiking
Trekking Poles : Why you should use one when hiking

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