Pitamakan Dawson Loop
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The Pitamakan Dawson Loop is a strenuous and rewarding hike 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 hike, it is one of the best treks in the park!
This is a long hike, and at points, it is quite exposed, so be sure to pack the appropriate gear such as a raincoat, hat, and gloves because the weather can change very quickly. You may also consider trying to get a backcountry permit and turning this journey into a two-day trip.
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, going counter-clockwise (to the right) seems to offer the best views, and you can potentially catch one of the Two Med boat tours back for the last 3.0 mi.
If you start by hiking to the right, you'll meander in and out of forest and avalanche chutes during the first part of the hike. After 1.5 mi, you will pass a waterfall before a short descent. After this brief dip, you'll begin your climb to Oldman Lake campground. The trail to the campground is a steady climb and somewhat open until 1.0 mi from the campsite, where you the forest takes over. The campground trail leads to the lake, which is an excellent spot to rest.
From there, you return to the main trail and continue in a counter-clockwise direction. This is where the path 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. Cutbank Valley and Old Man Lake look spectacular from the Pitamakan viewpoint! As you continue along the ridge, the continental divide, you get views into the Coal/Nyack area. The trail goes between Mt. Morgan, and Finsch Peak before continuing around Finsch Peak to Dawsons Pass.
From Dawson's Pass, you get great views down into the Lewis Range. As you continue along the trail, you descend into Bighorn Basin. 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, continue for 3.0 mi on level ground back to the campground.
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- If you take the route in a clockwise direction you can guarantee to catch the boat early and skip the initial three miles.
The trailhead is at the Two Medicine campground, accessed on the east side of Glacier National Park.
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