Spectacular, unbelievable views abound on this Glacier National Park hike.
Length: 6.25 miles, out-and-back
Elevation change: 4400 feet
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
Highlights: Spectacular, unbelievable views abound on this Glacier National Park hike. Add a side trail to a rushing waterfall, and it’s easy to understand why this hiking trail is named Scenic Point.
Atlanta Trails travels to Montana’s Glacier National Park to the Two Medicine area – a relatively secluded section of Glacier on the East side of the park – to a hike that affords absolutely stunning views along almost its entire length of climb to the summit.
This hike travels through breathtaking scenery to an awe-inspiring summit that was considered sacred land by the Blackfeet Native American Tribe – to a point that was site of several sweat lodges and was often used for ceremonies. Once at the top, you’ll quickly understand why.
The total elevation gain along the 3.1 mile climb to the top is over 2200 feet along this out-and-back trail – with the same elevation descent on the way back down. That’s a total elevation change of over 4400 feet; relatively modest for Glacier National Park but with the breathtaking views that await at the top, well worth every ounce of effort. The trail is open and exposed for much of the hike, giving fantastic views for nearly the entire hike along rocky and windswept terrain.
But the truly breathtaking view is at the summit – a small knob at the top that allows for sweeping views of the flatlands of Montana and the Blackfeet Reservation to the East, and a truly amazing panorama of the Eastern mountainscape of Glacier Park to the West. From the 7522 foot high summit, views of Two Medicine Lake and Upper Two Medicine Lake are framed in steep, glacier-capped peaks to the West. This is, without doubt, the most beautiful, scenic, can’t-stop-taking-photos trail that we’ve ever hiked.
The hike leaves the trailhead at the parking area and travels through relatively flat, densely forested land before beginning to open and climb through rocky, tumbled terrain. Sounds emerge of the Appistoki Creek tumbling through a steep valley to your right, and you’ll soon pass a well-marked fork with a side trail that leads to Appistoki Falls, a short hike away.
The trail soon becomes steep with switchbacks, ever-winding as ever-changing views open up around you in beautiful panoramas of Two Medicine Lake, Rising Wolf Mountain, Mount Henry, and Appistoki Peak.
You’ll pass through a small, wind-whipped pine forest nearly halfway up the ascent, but will otherwise be exposed in rocky openness for most of the hike.
And be sure to bring plenty of water; save for a tiny spring that trickles over the trail at around 1.75 miles (and is known to be dry seasonally), there’s no water availability on the trail, and high wind activity, almost constant sun exposure, and a decent ascent will leave you thirsty.
Ascend to an open knob at 2.75 miles and enjoy the 360 degree vistas around you… but your hike isn’t over yet. The trail continues to extend around a steep, curving bowl along a narrow ridge before opening up to a rocky field as you approach the summit of Scenic Point. A small wooden sign points you to the trail to the summit, extending to the left, nearing the 3 mile mark.
The views from the summit are breathtaking – but come prepared for severe weather. Winds are generally high in the area, and snow is common along the trails near the summit. During our late-August hike, snow was present near the peak and winds were in the 50-60mph range, making it hard to stand at the summit – and was cold even in windbreakers (and mid-80s weather).
After enjoying views from the summit, retrace your route along the same trail to return to the trailhead.
Wildlife sightings are common along the Scenic Point trail, and as the case everywhere in Glacier Park, bears are active in the area, so be sure to pack bear spray.
Getting there: Drive North on Highway 49 from East Glacier and enter Glacier National Park at the Two Medicine entrance on Two Medicine Road. The trailhead, marked as “Scenic Point”, is on the left after entering Glacier National Park.
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