Friday, May 8, 2009

Arrow Lake / Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana

Duration: 2-3 Day
Season: Summer
Distance: ~13.2 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

Arrow Lake is located in Glacier National Park. As your drive to Glacier you travel through rolling foothills only to suddenly see this geological wonder of huge mountains jutting out of the landscape. Known for its pristine forests, alpine lakes and meadows, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife, Glacier is truly a unique place. I’ve known people who have traveled the world over and still say that it is their favorite outdoor place on earth. With over 700 miles of trails, mountains and lakes, Glacier is an adventurers paradise.

The trail to Arrow Lake begins to climb immediately at a moderate rate and continues to the top of the ridge (2.5 miles). There are only a few view spots where you can see Lake McDonald. At the top of the ridge there is a sign indicating an old fire lookout. The trail to this lookout is old and nearly gone.

The trail moves through a wide saddle and then drops steeply using switchbacks to the Camas Creek Valley. At a bit more than 3 miles the trail forks, going left to Rodger Lake and right to Trout, Arrow, Camas, Evangeline, and Ruger Lakes. Go right. An old campsite sits .25 miles up the trail along Trout Lake. There is a large logjam across Trout Lake that is useful for fishing. Bears cross on this logjam also. One of the first recorded kills of a visitor to the park by a bear happened at this spot. There is no longer a campsite at Trout Lake.

The main backcountry campsite is 3.5 miles up the trail at Arrow Lake. This is a small campground with a good food prep area; bear pole, privy and 2 hitching rails. The trail to the head of the lake requires a crossing of the stream at the foot of the lake. There are stepping stones, but they are slick and some are slightly submerged. The stream is only a foot deep at the crossing and feels good on tired feet.

The trail from Arrow Lake to Camas Lake is well maintained and provides spectacular views. There is a campsite at Camas Lake. The food prep area is very exposed to the wind off the Lake. Lake Evangeline and Ruger Lake are located farther up the valley and require much bushwhacking to reach. There are large damp meadows above Camas lake with a lot of elk and deer sign. There are a lot of exposed slopes in this valley and it is a damp location making it ideal for berry bushes. This also means that this is serious bear country.

Regulations: A backcountry use permit is required for all backcountry camping. Permits for camping between June 1st and September 30th may be obtained in person 24 hours or less prior the trip and are issued on a first come, first serve basis. Backcountry campsites may be reserved between June 5th and October 31st. Backcountry us permit Fee = Between June 1st and September 30th the following fees are charged for backcountry camping: age 17 and up - $4/night, age 9 through 16 - $2/night, age 8 and under - free, Golden age and Golden Access cardholders - $2/night. Check fee updates for current fees. Glacier Park entrance Fee: $5 / person, $10 / car. Entry passes good for 7 days. A fishing permit is required in the park but no fee is required.

Directions: From the west entrance of Glacier National Park (Apgar) travel east on the Going to the Sun Highway for just over 11.8 miles to the Lake McDonald road at the head of Lake McDonald. This road is not signed, but a park map will indicate a ranger station along the road. Follow the road for about 2 miles to the trailhead. The road is very narrow and rough. The parking area is very limited. You may have to go several more miles down the road to find a spot large enough to turn a trailer.

For a map, picture and more info click on Arrow Lake

See you on the trail,

All Day Energy Runners

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1 comment:

  1. I was this close to visiting this park a few years back but instead we veered south to check out the Colorado Monument. Now I see what I've missed and have to get there!