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Pitamakan Pass Trail

Difficult
 5.0 (3)

A stunning trail with a perfect blend of forest, alpine, creeks, and lakes.


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Map Key

17.7

Miles

28.5

KM

Point to Point

7,625' 2,324 m

High

5,170' 1,576 m

Low

2,870' 875 m

Up

2,860' 872 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (4°)

26%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Bring bear spray.

Description

This trail starts over at the Cut Bank trailhead at the end of the road and ends near the campground at Pray Lake in Two Medicine.

Starting over at the Cut Bank area, you pass through a meadow that explodes in flowers at the beginning of summer before dropping down to North Fork Cut Bank Creek. The trail follows the creek upstream, sometimes right along the water, sometimes away from it, and sometimes high above looking down. You pass wonderful vistas of Bad Marriage Mountain and views up the drainage to Razoredge Mountain and Medicine Grizzly Peak while passing willow-lined sections of the creek and ponds.

At four miles, you pass the junction with the Triple Divide that also leads to Medicine Grizzly Lake. From here, the trail turns up the drainage towards Morningstar Lake through the trees, passing a meadow that is a favorite for elk in the evening. The trail wraps around the base of the mountain, following up the creek gaining elevation until it gets to Morningstar Lake with it's campground. Views up to the red rock ridge line often have white spots of goats hanging on its ledges.

From here, the trail gains elevation more quickly, passes by Katoya Lake at a distance, then crosses over the outlet of the incredibly lovely Pitamakan Lake as the views up towards Pitamakan Pass and Mt. Morgan are stunning.

You follow the shores of this lake that is tucked beneath cliffs, passing Seven Winds of the Lake, then begin steeply switchbacking up to fantastic alpine meadows that are favorites of bighorn sheep. The trail joins up with the Dawson Pass trail that leads around the western edge of Mt. Morgan as well as the Cut Bank Pass Trail.

The Pitamakan Pass Trail follows along the ridge east with incredible views down the Cut Bank drainage that you climbed up with the sapphire lakes capping off the beauty. Looking down the south side of the slope, Oldman Lake sits at the bottom of the valley surrounded by the steep cliffs of Flinsch Peak and Rising Wolf.

You switchback down to Oldman Lake. You're back in the trees with stands of old, silver snags creating a dramatic contrast to the new, green growth. This trail follows Dry Fork Creek out the drainage towards the plains that seem to go on forever. Looks down into the drainage can reward you with all sorts of wildlife.

The trail eventually crosses the creek which is a trickle by mid-summer. A short rise in the trail takes you past a waterfall and around Pray Lake to the trailhead.

This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to hike.

Flora & Fauna

A wide variety of plants and animals occur on this trip. Lower meadow flowers such as geraniums and gaillardia change to asters in the forest and glacier lilies and low growing flowers such as dryas up high. Small mammals ranging from tree squirrels and chipmunks change to golden-mantled squirrels and marmots up high. Bighorn sheep, moose, elk, mountain goats, and bears may all be seen along the trail. Birding also varies from warblers along the creeks to gray-crownedrosy finches up high.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jake Bramante

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#2

in Two Medicine

#704

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Two Medicine

#20

in Montana

#704

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1,196 Since Sep 3, 2015
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Photos

Dawson Cutoff overlooking Pitamakin Lake.
Jun 10, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Trip video of Pitamakan - Dawson Loop.
Apr 26, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Pitamakan Lake
Sep 12, 2019 near Rising Sun, MT
Bad Marriage Mountain from the Cut Bank Trailhead.
Jun 3, 2019 near St. Mary, MT
Heading down Pitamakan Pass toward Oldman Lake.
Jun 15, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
View from Pitamakan Pass.
Jan 24, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT

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Check-Ins

Aug 30, 2018
Tilman Giese
Jan 15, 2016
Alli Brashear
Aug 5, 2015
Geoff Poole