Backpacking trails in Glacier National Park

Region in Montana, United States

Backpacking in Glacier National Park is spectacular, with some of the best scenery in North America. We’ve shared some of our favourite backpacking routes here, and this includes some of the classic trails in Glacier National Park.

Whether you are looking for a weekend trip, or planning on booking an epic, week-long backpack, you’ll need to get permits. While there are often walk-in permits, it is preferable to reserve your permits in advance. The NPS website for Glacier National Park has great information about how to use their modified lottery system. We’ve used this system, and found the lottery system to function very well.

So start planning your next backpacking trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park!

Best Backpack Trails in Glacier National Park

  1. North Circle Trail (89.3 km, 4,026 m, 4-6 days): This is the backpack in Glacier. Though it’s hard to get a permit, this is an incredible route, providing enormous variety and some of the best views in Glacier National Park.
  2. Pitamakan-Dawson Loop (28.4 km, 958 m, 1-3 days): Another great backpack in Glacier National Park, this route can be done in a single day, but it’s much more fun to do it as an overnight backpack.
  3. Boulder Pass (39.6 km, 968 m, 2-3 days): Another great backpacking trail in Glacier National Park, this one goes into a more remote part of Glacier. This can be done in 2 long days, but is best done as a 3-day trip.
  4. Extended Highline (61.8 km, 3,035 m, 3-4 days): While many hikers enjoy the lower highline hike, from Logan Pass to Granite Park Chalet, this trail continues along the Upper Highline trail, home to some of the best views in Glacier. It’s very hard to get permits for this route, however it is spectacular if you do get them.

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Best Backpacking trails in Glacier National Park

Open details for North Circle

North Circle

Very Hard
89.3 km
4,026 m
5-6 days

The North Circle Loop in Glacier National Park is a strenuous and rewarding backpacking trip that takes you through some of the best terrain in Glacier. This 4-6 day backpacking loop is one of the best backpacking trails in the entire US, and requires you to enter a lottery to get one of the few reservations on this epic backpacking route in Montana.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Pitamakan Dawson Loop

Pitamakan Dawson Loop

Moderate
28.4 km
958 m
1-3 days

The Pitamakan-Dawson Loop is a strenuous and rewarding backpacking trip on the east side of Glacier National Park. Setting out from the Two Medicine Campground, the trail takes you through many different environments in Glacier National Park. If you have the experience and fitness level to complete this backpacking trip, it is one of the best in the park!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Boulder Pass

Boulder Pass

Very Hard
39.6 km
968 m
2-3 days

Backpacking through this northern section of Glacier National Park is a very wild experience. With limited access to the area, the trail between Goat Haunt and Boulder Pass is remote and stunning. It is a trip for any backpacker’s bucket list.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for The Highline

The Highline

Hard
61.8 km
3,035 m
4-5 days

The Highline is one of Glacier’s legendary hikes along the Continental Divide, and this backpacking loop is the best way to extend the trip and enjoy the Upper Highline and get deeper into the beauty of GNP backcountry. Hiking from Logan Pass to Fifty Mountain is epic above treeline hiking, while the return journey is lower but through a burned forest offering equally scenic but different views. All in all, the extended Highline is a fantastic backpacking trip.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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