This post is part of a series about our trip through Glacier and Waterton National Parks in July 2019. As per the recent Blackfeet Tribe Resolution # 264-2020, the eastern entrances to Glacier National Park will likely remain closed through the remainder of the 2020 season. This will include the access road to the Two Medicine area. Hopefully this post will be a valuable resource as you start planning trips for 2021.
We managed to avoid the crowds in Glacier National Park by visiting the main attractions along the Going-to-the-Sun Road or Many Glacier either early in the morning or after 5PM. One afternoon, after hiking at Avalanche Lake in the western part of the park, we circled back on Highway 2 to visit Two Medicine, in the south eastern part of the park. We loved the relative calm of the area, the wandering mountain goats, and the beautiful meadows beside the picturesque lake.
If you are staying in St Mary (as we did), Two Medicine is about 1 hour away, and if you are staying in West Glacier, you can either take the Going-to-the-Sun Road or skip the traffic and take Highway 2 along the southern park boundary (1hr 20 min). Perhaps most famous for the Dawson-Pitamakan Loop, one of the most famous long hikes in the park, it is also home to a number of shorter jaunts, calm vistas, and plenty of wildlife. Here is what we did when we visited the area.
- Start at Two Medicine Lake, where Sinopah Mountain lights up at sunrise and looms large all day. Walk over to Paradise Point (1.5 miles, round-trip) through pretty meadows for an alternative view of the lake.
- For some exercise, head up the Scenic Point trail (up to 8 miles) for a birds-eye view of the lake and valley below.
- Check out Running Eagle Falls (0.6 mile walk) on the way out of the area for a short walk to an interesting waterfall.
- There’s plenty more hiking here! If you have more time, check out this list of hikes.
- When you’re done exploring, grab a meal at the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier (see our logistics post for more information).
As soon as we got the shore of the lake near the South Shore Trailhead, Sinopah Mountain rising over the lake grabbed all of our attention. We visited in the afternoon, when the mountain was in shadow, so for the best pictures, we would recommend coming in the morning instead. If you want to get out on the water, there are boats for rent at very reasonable prices.
The trail to Paradise Point was an easy 1.5 mile round-trip walk from the South Shore Trailhead. The view at the point was certainly pretty, but the lovely scenery along the way made this walk really special for us. The trail wanders through the meadows along the lake, full of wildflowers and bear grass, which are in full bloom in early July.
After stretching our legs, we re-parked the car in the small lot near the Scenic Point Trailhead and started hiking along its steep switchbacks. The little side trail to Appistoki Falls was a nice diversion and revealed a wonderful, narrow canyon, but the view of the falls itself was pretty obscured by trees.
The Scenic Point trail was a good warm-up for some of the hikes we had planned at Many Glacier and Logan Pass. We got progressively better views of Two Medicine Lake and the surrounding valley as we headed up. Since we visited Two Medicine after a morning of hiking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, we were pretty tired, so we turned around after about 2 miles and headed back to the car. If you do do the full 4-mile trail (8 miles RT), check out this website to see some of the awesome panoramic views that await. If you want to take pictures of the lake, since you’re facing west it’s best to take pictures in the morning and on the way up instead of on the way down.
On our way down back to the car, we saw our first mountain goat of the trip along the way! The goat was losing its winter coat, and so it looked like it had gotten a bad haircut :).
Our final stop in the area was the 0.6 mile nature walk to Running Eagle Falls. The path leads to the point where Two Medicine Lake and Lower Two Medicine Lake connect. The path is great because it is very scenic and open and also accessible to all, and would be great for families with young kids (we saw a few on the trail).
We were in such a rush to get up close to the falls that we totally missed how beautiful the area is from afar (we took this picture on the way back).
Running Eagle Falls is also called “Trick” Falls because in high water season, the falls rush straight over the top cliff in the photo above, totally obscuring the flow that shoots out of the sinkhole lower down. We saw only the flow from the sinkhole when we visited in early July.
That was it for our short trip to the Two Medicine Area! Have any of you visited the Pitamakan Pass? Are there other hikes or activities you’d recommend in the area? Please leave us a note to let us know, and stay tuned for our next post!