Trek Notes - USA

Glacier-Waterton Lakes

An Inn-to-Inn, Hiking Adventure 

The Northern Rockies is a land of high mountain adventure, a land that will set your senses soaring and spirits flying.Preserved in the International Peace Parks of Glacier in the United States and adjoining Waterton Lakes in Canada is a magnificent untamed wilderness of craggy, snow-shrouded peaks, scoured glacial valleys, ice-blue mirror lakes, and alpine meadows rich in wildflowers and wildlife.Boasting over 800 miles of footpaths, Glacier National Park is one of the world's premiere hiking destinations.For five days you will share our favourite trails and hideaways, and experience one fun-filled afternoon of white water rafting. A highlight of the Glacier-Waterton Hiker is the distinctive inns at which we stay.Architects took the mountains' majesty to heart when they designed the historic hotels and lodges in both Glacier and Waterton Lakes.By style and location, each lodge displays a majestic and distinctive character. This tour is designed for the seasoned hiker and offers a myriad of challenging options for the more intrepid adventurer. The standard hikes are 6-12 miles in length with elevation gains up to 2,000’; easier options reach 6-8 miles with as little as 800’ of elevation change.  


DAY 1  
Whitewater Rafting Flathead River or Hiking to Stanton Lake, Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park  
Our group assembles at 12:00 p.m. in Whitefish, Montana.Following a short orientation we'll head out for a white water raft trip on the Wild & Scenic Flathead River.With paddles in hand, we shoot rapids with such colorful names as Jaws, Pinball and Pumphouse.For those who prefer not to raft, join one of our guides and explore the nearby Stanton Lake.Tonight we stay at Lake McDonald Lodge. The lodge was built in 1913 and retains its western charm with its huge log supported lobby, stone fireplaces and spectacular setting.A short walkway leads to the placid water's edge, a lovely spot to relax at the end of the day.  
Flathead River [class II, some class III;booties included]  
Option: Stanton Lake Hike [4 miles; 250 feet of elevation gain]

DAY 2  
Highline Trail, Aspen Village Inn, Waterton National Park
We drive to Logan Pass on the renowned Going-To-The-Sun Highway, an engineering feat of the 1930s. On today's hike, as well as on days four and five, a special local guide will join us to discuss local history, geology, flora, fauna and much more. Donning daypacks, we stride along the Highline Trail, a classic alpine route that straddles the Crown of the Rockies, the Continental Divide.The blossom-filled meadows of the Garden Wall offers some of the park's best wildlife viewing.Bighorn sheep and mountain goats skirt towering cliff bands, grizzly bears forage on the hillsides, and playful marmots and pikas scurry among the rocks. 
Following the hike, we travel north into Canada and enter the quaint village of Waterton, nestled in an amphitheatre of towering snow-shrouded peaks and glacier-blue waters.A sense of Old England pervades the streets; beer is served in "pints", and afternoon high tea and bridge are common.Waterton National Park, a hiker’s paradise, is one of our favourite getaways.For the next two evenings our home away from home is the Aspen Village Inn featuring a soothing jacuzzi and great views.  
Highline Trail [12 miles;800 feet of elevation gain, 3,000 feet of elevation loss] 
Shorter Option: Haystack Butte [6-8 miles]  
The trip departing on August 19th will lodge at the incredible Prince of Wales Hotel, on nights 2 & 3.

DAY 3  
Rowe Lakes or Carthew Pass, Aspen Village Inn  

Today we choose between two hiking options.A creekside walk to Rowe Lakes features an expansive cirque meadow at the base of the jagged Lineham and Rowe Peaks.The intrepid hiker can try the more challenging Carthew Pass trail.The trail begins at the snow-encrusted headwall of Cameron Lake and ascends through an old growth forest, some of the largest trees in the park.The dark forest gives way to sun-splashed parklands filled with a sea of beargrass and wildflowers.We summit the wind-swept Carthew Pass and enjoy a long descent that passes sapphire lakes, waterfalls, deep cirques and lush meadows. 
Tonight we sample one of Waterton’s best restaurants. 
Carthew Pass [12 miles; steep 2,200 feet of elevation gain, 3,600 feet of elevation loss] 
Moderately Easy Option: Rowe Lakes [7 miles; 1350 of elevation gain, then loss]

Day 4  
Bertha Falls or Crypt Lake, Many Glacier Hotel, Waterton National Park
Today we will choose between two hiking options.The first is a leisurely walk to Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake featuring a series of lovely cascades and viewpoints of the surrounding peaks and Waterton Lake. For the intrepid hiker, give it a go on the more challenging route to Crypt Lake, rated by Newsweek Magazine as Canada's finest hike.Though not for everyone, this trail will take you past waterfalls, scrambling up ladders, crawling through rock tunnels, and finally scaling narrow cliffs while hanging onto cables... an adventure of a lifetime!  
In the late afternoon, we return to Glacier National Park and the Many Glacier Hotel, another of the Great Northern Railroad's masterpieces.This Swiss-style inn looks out onto Swiftcurrent Lake and a choppy sea of brilliant peaks and jagged aretes, which give this area the nickname "America's Little Switzerland".Take a stroll on the lakeshore and spy for grizzlies, mountain goats and bighorn sheep that forage on the surrounding hillsides.This evening around a campfire cookout, enjoy the alpenglow and recount some of the week's adventures.  
Bertha Falls, Bertha Lake [5 miles; 750 feet of elevation gain, then loss] [or 8 miles; 1,250 feet of elevation gain, then loss]  
Crypt Lake [10.5 miles; 2,100 feet of elevation gain, then loss]

Grinnell Glacier or Grinnell Lake, Many Glacier
The Blackfeet Indians called this beautiful valley "waterfalls".The white man renamed it Many Glacier.But really there is not a single word that can truly describe this outstanding region with its alpine scenery, glacier-carved mountains, fifteen lakes, miles of meadows, profusion of flowers, and abundance of wildlife, as well as glaciers and waterfalls.It is a nature lover's paradise!Today our footpath leads us to a close-up view of one of the park's largest remaining glaciers, Grinnell.Discover the fascinating world of ice caves, crevasses, bergschrunds and moraines.  
Grinnell Glacier [11 miles; 1,700 feet of elevation gain, then loss]  
Shorter Option:Grinnell Lake [8 miles; 700 feet of elevation gain, then loss]

DAY 6  
Hiking Ptarmigan Falls or Iceberg Lake,Whitefish
Our walk to Ptarmigan Falls is a fitting finale to our Glacier Hiker.For a more challenging option, you can choose to continue your hike to Iceberg Lake.At this tranquil destination, we relax beneath a 3,000’ cathedral wall that rises straight out of the lake and watch sunlight dance across the floating ice in the chalky blue, glacier-fed waters.We return to Whitefish for our trip's conclusion.  
Ptarmigan Falls [5 miles; 600 feet of elevation of elevation gain, then loss]  
Longer Option: Iceberg Lake [9.5 miles, 1,200 of elevation gain, then loss]


Trip Type: Inn-to-Inn  
Trip Length: 6 days/5 nights  
Trip Rating: Moderate, with Moderately Easy options      
Gateway City: Kalispell, Montana  
Trip Conclusion: Approximately 5:30 p.m., Pine Lodge Quality Inn, Whitefish Trip Fees Include: Half day raft trip, all meals (dinner Day 1-lunch Day 6), bell boy and raft guide tips, all accommodations (double occupancy), porter service at some accommodations, T-shirt, water bottle, support vehicle, guest historian and naturalist, historical information packet and professional guides.


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