Boulder Pass Backpacking Trail in Glacier National Park has some of the best views of Montana
Picturesque lake and waterfalls on Boulder Pass Backpacking Trail in Glacier National Park in Montana

Boulder Pass backpacking trail

Glacier National Park
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Boulder Pass backpacking trail

Distance: 24.6mi
Elevation: 3,176ft
Time: 2-3 days

Difficulty Rating:

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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.

Boulder Pass Map

Getting there

To get to the start of this hike you will need to head to Waterton townsite and take a boat to the Goat Haunt Rangers Station in GNP. This does involve crossing a border so be sure to have the proper documentation.

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About

When to do

July - September

Mountain Huts

Goat Haunt has a shelter for 4 - not exactly a Mountain Hut

Backcountry Campsites

Boulder Pass, Hole in the Wall Campground

Toilets

Goat Haunt

Pets allowed

No

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Boulder Pass
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Boulder Pass

Keep in mind, you will need to get a backcountry permit before camping in Glacier National Park. You can find more information on backcountry permits in Glacier National Park here.

In addition, before beginning this trip, you will need to check-in using CBP ROAM as this port of entry is no longer staffed. You will be required to present proof of check-in before being allowed to continue.

 

Day 1: Waterton to Goat Haunt to Hole in the Wall (11.1mi, 3497ft)

Get off the Waterton Cruise Boat at Goat Haunt. Here you have the opportunity to use a restroom, and even stay the night before heading out for the longer trip. There is a shelter as well as a bear box and hooks on poles. Once you are ready to leave, set out on the Continental Divide Trail. Continue along here until it intersects with the Pacific NW trail, where you will take a left.

Follow along this trail, passing through fields of bear grass (hopefully catching it in full bloom!) and eventually you will pass Lake Janet and the Lake Janet campground.

You will stay on this trail, following along a creek until passing Lake Frances and the Lake Frances Campground. Continuing past Thunderbird Pond, you begin a switchbacked climb to Brown Pass.

Once at Brown Pass you will reach a junction where left will take you to Brown Pass Campground. Instead go right and continue ahead in the direction of Boulder Pass.

At your next junction, go left to Hole in the Wall Campground. Go left and setup camp at Hole in the Wall Campground, by Bowman Creek. This is a very pretty location, and you’ll enjoy the views in good weather!

Day 2: Hole in the Wall to Boulder Pass Campground and back (7.6mi, 2772ft)

Today is a fun day out to the very pretty Boulder Pass. Retrace your steps back down to the main trail, and when you reach it go left. The trail curves below a ridge of Mount Custer, and is truly spectacular.

Eventually the route comes out on a plateau above Hole in the Wall Campground. From here the route to Boulder Pass is spectacular, with views in all directions. Go over Boulder Pass and checkout the Boulder Pass Campground. In fact, you could add a night and stay at Boulder Pass Campground, it’s very pretty.

Eventually, return to the Hole in the Wall Campground .

 

Day 3: Hole in the Wall to Goat Haunt (11.0mi, 1316ft)

Return along the original route you hiked on Day 1. Pay close attention to the boat times, as you’ll want to catch the last boat from Goat Haunt.

 

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 – Waterton to Goat Haunt to Hole in the Wall (11.1mi, 3497ft)

Day 2 – Hole in the Wall to Boulder Pass (7.6mi, 2772ft)

Day 3 – Hole in the Wall to Goat Haunt (11.0mi, 1316ft)

Insider Hints

  • Boat Landing at Goat Haunt may be suspended, check with Waterton Shoreline Cruise before your trip.

  • You need a permit for this route. We suggest getting your permit application into the lottery as soon as the lottery opens. You can find out more info backcountry permits here.

  • This same trip could be extended to another day or two by staying an extra night at Hole in the Wall or staying a night at Boulder Pass.

  • It is possible to make this a point to point hike by continuing through GNP to either Kintla Lake or Bowman Lake. You will have to leave a car at one of these locations.

Comments

Rob Silvermann 1 year ago

Classic backpacking shuttle starting in Canada and ending ins US. Can be done in three nights but i recommend four. Make sure you get a chance to stay at Hole-in-the-Wall Campsite; it is definitely one of the most spectacular sites I've ever stayed at.

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