Glacier Park Hikes: Dawson-Pitamakan Trail Loop
One of our favorite day hikes in Glacier National Park is the Dawson Pitamakan Trail Loop. This amazing 17 mile Glacier Park hike provides astounding scenery that will absolutely take your breath away. And interestingly, of the 800+ miles of hiking trails in Glacier Park, the Dawson Pitamakan Trail Loop is one of the only true loops in Glacier.
Located in the Two Medicine Area of Glacier Park, the trail head is located at the Two Medicine Campground. We strongly feel that the best way to tackle this hike is to first take the North Shore Trail toward Dawson Pass. This clockwise direction is best because the lighting will be in your favor the entire day, which means far better photos. Also, the North Shore Trail is basically flat for over 3 miles, and then you'll abruptly climb up to Dawson Pass (2,000 vertical feet in just over 2 miles), and then the rest of the day you're either enjoying a nearly level hike, or a gradual downhill descent. The other way is uphill for far longer. Our philosophy is to get the uphill stuff over with as soon as possible so the majority of the day is a "piece of cake" This makes for a far more enjoyable hiking experience.
On the Dawson Pitamakan Trail Loop in Glacier Park, you will cross three passes: Dawson Pass, Cut Bank Pass and Pitamakan Pass. Between Dawson Pass and Cut Bank Pass, the trail is literally on top of the Continental Divide as it works its way northward. The views from this section of the trail is so beautiful it is nearly impossible to describe. The vastness of this country is awe-inspiring as you look thousands of feet below you into the Nyack Creek Area. And the mountains that shoot up from the other side of this deep, wide valley are majestic beyond description. Giants like Mount Phillips and Mount Stimson (one of the tallest peaks in Glacier National Park) dominate the western skyline. This is truly one of the most amazing Glacier Park hikes you'll ever encounter.
Just before you reach Cut Bank Pass, you'll reach the highest point of your hike along the Dawson Pitamakan Loop, which is called the Pitamakan Overlook (8,099 feet). This narrow ridge of rock takes you to a vantage point that cannot be put into words, and is one of our favorite spots on this wonderful Glacier Park hiking trail.
Once you reach Cut Bank Pass, which is only about a half a mile from Pitamakan Overlook, the rest of the trail is all downhill. The views from Cut Bank Pass are incredibly impressive, and the view remains equally impressive all the way down to Pitamakan Pass, and then onto to Old Man Lake. Once you refill your water bottles with your water filter/pump and have a quick snack along the shore of this amazing alpine lake, you will then gradually descend down the trail for 5.5 miles until you reach the Two Medicine Campground once again.
For all the details on this amazing hike, check out our page Dawson Pitamakan Loop. This helpful page walks you through every section of the trail, and it also gives you some helpful tips to make this Glacier Park hike even more enjoyable. The Dawson Pitamakan Trail Loop is without question one of the premiere hikes in Glacier Park, and if you're in good shape, we highly recommend that you take it, and bring plenty of memory cards for your camera because you'll need them!
For all the details click this link: Dawson Pitamakan Trail Loop