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Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

Glacier National Park

Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, Montana

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Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

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  • A glimpse of Swiftcurrent Pass over a lake early in the hike.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • A calf pauses on the lakeshore.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The mother moose returns into the forest after grazing in the water.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Red Rock Falls.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Another waterfall along the trail.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Clearings in the forest provide good views along the first few miles of trail.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Looking down the valley back toward Many Glacier.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The gradient is gradual during the first 4 miles of trail.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Bullhead Lake.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The lake is a worthwile destination all its own, especially on a hot day.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • This footbridge marks the beginning of the steep climb to Swiftcurrent Pass.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The first good view of a towering waterfall.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Nearing the Waterfall Wall.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • View of the lakes while climbing the switchbacks.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • One of the switchbacks passes very close to a pair of waterfalls.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The trail is cut along a steep traverse.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • The waterfalls tumble from Swiftcurrent Glacier and snowfields high above.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Swiftcurrent Glacier, the Waterfall Wall, and the trail seen from high along the exposed traverse.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Views are incredible the whole way.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • A small creek crossing below the waterfalls.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • More eyefuls of scenery.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Nearing the pass amid stunted high-elevation forest.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • A permanent snowfield and meltwater stream near the pass.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Alpine wildflowers in bloom in July.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
  • Heaven's Peak awaits you at the top of Swiftcurrent Pass.- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Waterfalls. Lakes. Vistas. Wildlife.
Cons: 
Limited views early in the trail.
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Region:
Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, MT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,400.00 ft (731.52 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
14.20 mi (22.85 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,960.00 ft (1,511.81 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The trail to Swiftcurrent Pass is one of the most rewarding in Glacier National Park, and it makes the drive to Many Glacier well worth the trip. This trail offers something for everyone with options for mileage and difficulty and plenty to see no matter what distance you go. The greatest reward lies in completing the whole trail to the top of Swiftcurrent Pass, but lakes and waterfalls lower in the valley make shorter trips worthwhile as well.

The trail begins from the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot and follows the main valley. The first 4 miles or so are relatively flat as the trail passes a string of beautiful lakes. Most of the hike is among forest and thickets that obscure the panorama, but clearings provide intermittent views of the surroundings, and the trail meets the lakes and creek in several places.

At less than a mile from the trailhead, a signed spur trail leads to Fishercap Lake for your first glimpse of a shimmering alpine lake. In the next few miles, there are two more lovely lakeshores and a few waterfalls, including the multi-tiered Redrock Falls about 2 miles from the trailhead. The water makes a refreshing splash or dip in the heat of summer. You may also find moose sharing the shallow water of the lakes. This is one of the best trails in the park to spot them.

If you continue past Bullhead Lake, which is the last in the chain and the best for swimming, the steep climb up to Swiftcurrent Pass looms overhead. After crossing one final footbridge, the trail begins to switchback upward across a grassy hillside and into the rocky cliffs. The showstopper here is the Waterfall Wall, a 1,000-foot cliff that streams with meltwater from the glacier above. The switchbacks get you very close to one of the waterfalls for excellent photo opportunities. Views all along this trail give you plenty of excuses to stop and catch your breath, especially on the part that traverses a nearly sheer drop high above the valley floor. The terrace is wide enough to be safe, but the drop may still be a bit nerve-racking for those afraid of heights.

After this, just a bit more climbing leads to the top of Swiftcurrent Pass, where a stunning view into the next valley and Heaven's Peak awaits. From here, intrepid hikers can take grueling but spectacular spur trail to Swiftcurrent Lookout. You can also continue the journey by continuing down the other side of the pass to Granite Park Chalet, Highline Trail, or Loop Trail and explore more amazing scenery.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(9 within a 30 mile radius)

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(50 within a 30 mile radius)

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