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October 2022

The Trails & Sights of Glacier National Park

Guest Author: Cassie Markham

My first trip to GNP I admittedly, had no idea what I was getting myself into. I left Abbotsford around 3 AM to arrive in the park just after sunrise with plans to solo the Abbott Ridge trail and finish up in time to drive to Golden and surprise Matt around 1PM.

I arrived in the park mid-week, early in the morning and it was a ghost town. I packed up my gear and set-off for the trail. I was quickly greeted by the unmanned parks desk which was host to a white board outlining all the recent wildlife sightings (there were alot). At least it had been 2 days since the last grizzly sighting I told myself.

I checked my phone and realized I had a small bit of reception and decided it would be a good time to call my brother and wish him a happy birthday (and keep him on the phone as long as possible to ease my anxiety).

Trails

Abbott Ridge

The Abbott Ridge Trail takes you up through the forest into true alpine tundra and ends on a narrow ridge with amazing 360 degree views. Glacier National Park is known for its steep and scenic trails and this trail was no exception.

Abbott Ridge Trail

Abbott Ridge Trail

  • Distance: 15.6km* roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1030m
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult Hike
  • Location: Illecillewaet Valley or Illecillewaet Campground*
  • Access: Paved Road

Glacier Crest

Glacier Crest Trail

This trail climbs a rock ridge between two valleys carved by the Illecillewaet and Asulkan glaciers. The ridge itself is an arête carved by the glaciers that once flowed down the valleys on either side. The view from this alpine spine is a Columbia Mountain panorama of rock and glacial ice.

We finally made it up here on my third trip back to GNP. This was Matt and Aspen’s first time hiking in Glacier and they were blown away by the views.

Glacier Crest Lookout

  • Distance: 13.4km* roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 960m
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult Hike
  • Location: Illecillewaet Valley or Illecillewaet Campground*
  • Access: Paved Road

Perley Rock

Perley Rock Trail

Perley Rock is described by Parks Canada as “an ambitious day hike in the park ending at a high viewpoint overlooking the Illecillewaet Icefield and Abbott Ridge.”

It is easily my longest day in the park, while it has the shortest distance of the three trails listed here, it also has the most elevation.

It starts off mellow until you cross Vaux Creek and begin the relentless climb towards the alpine. After many, many switchbacks, the trail reaches a steep snow slope. Many people choose to end their hike here, especially earlier in the summer.

Perley Rock Trail

We went in early August 2020 and the conditions were just right, we managed to cross the snow with microspikes and poles without too much difficulty. From there we scrambled up to the end of the trail and explored some of the glacial bed beyond. The trail ends at a high viewpoint overlooking the vast and otherworldly expanse of the Illecillewaet Icefield.

Perley Rock Trail

  • Distance: 12.8km* roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1145m
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Difficult Hike
  • Location: Illecillewaet Valley or Illecillewaet Campground*
  • Access: Paved Road

Where to Stay

Backcountry Camping

There is a designated backcountry campground at Hermit Meadows. Backcountry camping permits are required for overnight trips. Hermit Meadows has a privy toilet and bear-proof food storage lockers or poles.

We have yet to stay here but it is definitely on the list for future trips.

Frontcountry Camping

Loop Brook Campground is known for the old stone railway pillars that guard its entrance. A smaller, more intimate campground, Loop Brook is steps away from self-guided interpretive trails that delve into the area’s rich railway history.

Perley Rock Trail

Gear List