Beautiful lake along the backpacking trail of Pitamakan Dawson in Montana
Crossing the footbridge on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National Park

Pitamakan Dawson Loop backpacking trail

Glacier National Park
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Backpacker surrounded by peaks on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkWaterfall on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkLake surrounded by peaks on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkWildflowers along the trail of Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkBeautiful lakes on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkBurnt out forest on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkCute marmot met on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkFauna on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkView from the pass on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkTrail down on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkA woodpecker met on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkBaby moose met along the route of Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National ParkCrossing the bridge on Pitamakan Dawson Loop Backpacking Trail in Glacier National Park

Pitamakan Dawson Loop backpacking trail

Distance: 17.6mi
Elevation: 3,143ft
Time: 1-3 days

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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!

Pitamakan Dawson Loop Map

Getting there

The trailhead is at the Two Medicine campground, accessed on the east side of Glacier National Park, just off of Hwy 49.

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About

When to do

July - September

Backcountry Campsites

No Name Lake or Old Man Lake

Toilets

At campgrounds

Pets allowed

No

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Circuit


Pitamakan Dawson Loop
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Pitamakan Dawson Loop

The Pitamakan-Dawson Loop can be done as a long day hike, but it’s better as a backpacking trip. 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.

At points the Pitamakan-Dawson Loop is quite exposed to the weather, so be sure to pack the appropriate gear such as a raincoat, hat, and gloves because the weather can change very quickly.

 

Day 1: Two Medicine Campground to Old Man Lake Campground (6.2mi, 2064ft)

Starting from the Two Medicine campground, head across the bridge by Pray Lake and continue straight until you reach the Pitamakan-Dawson Loop trail. You can go either direction for this loop, however if you go right (counter-clockwise) we think it has the best views and you potentially can catch one of the Two Medicine Lake boat tours back for the last 3.0mi.

Taking the trail to the right, the first part of the hike is in and out of forest and avalanche chutes. After 1.5mi you will pass a waterfall before a short descent and then the start of your climb to Oldman Lake campground. The trail to the campground is a steady climb and fairly open until 1.0mi from the campsite, where you begin to enter the forest. The campground trail leads to the lake, where there are 4 sites. Set up camp and enjoy the serene views of the lake and surrounding area.

Day 2: Oldman Lake Campground to Two Med (12.0mi, 2178ft)

From Oldman Lake Campground, return to the main trail and continue in a counter-clockwise direction. This is where the trail becomes significantly steeper as it switchbacks up to Pitamakan Pass. The views are spectacular the whole way up, but from the pass and along the ridge you can see many different parts of Glacier National Park. From Pitamakan viewpoint, Cutbank Valley and Old Man Lake look spectacular. As you continue along the ridge, the continental divide, you get views into the Coal/Nyack area. The trail goes between Mt. Morgan, and Flinsch Peak before continuing around Flinsch Peak to Dawson Pass.

From Dawson Pass you get great views down into the Lewis Range. As you continue along the trail you descend into Bighorn Basin. At this point you can try to catch the last boat tour down Two Medicine Lake Shore and back to the boat dock near the campground. If it has left, then continue for 3.0mi on level ground back to the campground.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Two Medicine Campground to Old Man Lake Campground (6.2mi, 2064ft)

Day 2: Oldman Lake Campground to Two Medicine Campground (12.0mi, 2178ft)

Insider Hints

  • 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.

  • If you take the route in a clockwise direction you can guarantee to catch the boat early and skip the initial 3.0mi.

  • You could add an additional night by also stopping at the No Name Campground, about 1.0mi before Two Medicine Lake.

Comments

dearkatherine 1 year ago

First of all, I appreciate my friends for recommending this hike to me. I was completely blown away by the environment!

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LA Bright 1 year ago

The views are on fleek! I was lucky enough to catch the boat early! Lol. The first 3 miles was effortless!!

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Rob Silvermann 1 year ago

Outstanding lake views. It is recommended to hike this loop clockwise in order to stretch out the climb to a more manageable grade and also to keep the sun on your back, which makes for better light for photography.

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Eli-Tim 2 years ago

is not for the faint of heart, but has beautiful views with plentiful pull-offs and exhibits.

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Kohaku Ichinose 2 years ago

I guarantee that you'll enjoy this hike! I enjoy a lot here.

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5 Comments

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