I finally made it to Glacier National Park last weekend. I’ve been dying to go ever since I moved to Montana three years ago. It’s a 6 hour drive through lots of empty farm coutnry from Bozeman, but it was completely worth it.
I pulled into the park just after 1pm on Saturday. Predictably, all the campgrounds were full so I drove around the tiny gateway town of St. Mary, MT and found Johnson’s of St Mary, a large private campground on a hill overlooking the town and St Mary Lake. I staked out my campsite, dropped off some gear, and drove back into the park.
St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
My first objective was St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. I only had the afternoon to hike and I was solo. Not being particularly thrilled with venturing too far into the woods without a partner, I stuck close to the road. The trailhead for St. Mary Falls is 10 miles down the Going-to-the-Sun Road at the head of St Mary Lake. The trail quickly plunges through deep forest down to an intersection with the Continental Divide Trail. After barely a mile and a half of hiking, the trail crosses the river at St Mary Falls. It’s a gorgeous, albeit crowded location. It’s well worth leaving the trail and common viewpoints and scrambling around on the rocky banks of the river to get closer and different views of the falls.
The top of the falls are a little tight and choked off by the surrounding rock walls. In order to eliminate this restriction and to get a different composition, I crossed back over the bridge and walked underneath.
Past St Mary Falls, the trail continues uphill for less than a mile. The hike follows the river and there are numerous waterfalls along the edges of the trail that are not marked or frequented.
After a total of about 2.25 miles of hiking, the trail levels off at Virginia Falls. These falls are much higher and much more dramatic than St Mary Falls. There are multiples levels and steps to the falls, and tons of small pools and drop-offs. It’s a fun area to explore around, although it was mobbed with kids and their families when I was there.
You can check out the GPS tracks for my hike to St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls here: 9.1.2012 St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls on Garmin Connect.
The next day I woke up early and drove up the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass. The parking lot fills quickly and I was trying to beat the crowds for my morning hike. I set off up the Hidden Lake Trail at around 9:30 AM. I topped out at the Hidden Lake Overlook and then turned around and started back down to the trail. My objective for the morning was Triple Falls, an awesome set of three creeks that all spill into one small slot in the bedrock. The location is a somewhat closely guarded secret and no one will quite tell you where it is. After about an hour and a half of tramping around in creeks and on snowfields, tensely looking over my shoulder for bears, I finally stumbled onto Triple Falls. The leading image in this post is one of the first shots I took. The water was absolutely frigid and the spray inside the slot was intense, so I didn’t linger very long. I can’t wait to get back though, as this would have been a killer location for a sunrise or a sunset.
I’ve got a ton more pictures from Glacier that I’m still working on processing and those should be posted within the next couple days (Posted Here!)as I find the time. In the gallery below you can check out all the waterfall pictures and buy prints and cards from these shots. The leading image in particular would make a fantastic canvas to hang up on the wall.