The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
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.
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
What to Take
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
View the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail Photo Gallery
Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National
Boots : Buyers guide to getting the
right boot for hiking
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