Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,470.00 ft (448.06 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
12.80 mi (20.60 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Far from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, visitors can escape Glacier National Park’s main summer crowd and enjoy picturesque lakes in northwest Glacier in near solitude. A long gravel road deters many from visiting the Bowman Lake area, but those who make the journey can enjoy a plethora of incredible mountain views and great hikes. The Quartz Lake Loop begins from Bowman Lake and heads up and over a forested ridge to a string of lakes.

From the foot of Bowman Lake, soak in the spectacular views of the many mountain peaks that make up the Continental Divide. Head east on the shoreline and soon come across a large bridge over the wide Bowman Creek, known to the Kootenai tribe as “Big Strawberries.” By the patrol cabin, the trail comes to a junction. The Quartz Lake Loop can be hiked clockwise or counter-clockwise, but many may prefer the clockwise route for the easier uphill grade.

For the clockwise route, continue straight through the junction and start your steady uphill climb through the thick and lush forest on Cerulean Ridge. Cross a small spring-fed stream and take the nicely graded switchbacks up the ridge. The actual top of the Cerulean Ridge is barely noticeable until you realize you are already heading down into the Quartz Lake drainage. Unlike the vivid green north slopes, the forest on the southern slope is recovering from a 1988 fire. For now, catch peeks over the short growth for a view of Lower Quartz Lake from high on the ridge.

The trail leads you directly to backcountry sites at the foot of Quartz Lake, known to the Kootenai as “Head of Rhubarb.” Hikers lucky to overnight here are treated to five-star views of Quartz Lake nestled beneath Vulture Peak (9,638 ft). Continuing on, pass a patrol cabin and skirt around the southern end of Middle Quartz Lake. The trail becomes annoyingly overgrown and muddy on occasion. Lower Quartz Lake (“Where the Rhubarb is Long”) remains hidden from view until the trail drops slightly down to access the backcountry site at foot of the lake. At the trail junction here, stay right to head back to the Bowman area.

Walk a long and narrow footbridge over Quartz Lake and head back into the forest. If you weren’t already expecting it, head uphill almost immediately from the creek. The grade is fair, but some sections are definite calf-stretchers. Cresting the ridge, you’re treated to a smooth ride downhill back in the shade of the thick forest. Treat yourself to a soak in Bowman Lake at the end of your loop—you’ve earned it!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Stunning lake. Backcountry campsites.

Cons

Overgrown sections.

Trailhead Elevation

4,030.00 ft (1,228.34 m)

Highest point

5,500.00 ft (1,676.40 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildflowers
Big vistas
Fishing
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

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