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Pitamakan/Dawson Loop

Difficult
 4.9 (20) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A long and arduous hike whose magnificent views make this loop a must for any Glacier NP bucket list.


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Map Key

17.9

Miles

28.9

KM

Point to Point

8,010' 2,442 m

High

5,181' 1,579 m

Low

3,320' 1,012 m

Up

3,322' 1,013 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

36%

Max Grade (20°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Bring bear spray.

Overview

The Pitamakan/Dawson hike is a long route with over 3,300 feet of elevation gained, but the mind-blowing, panoramic views and varied terrain that await make the trek well worth the effort.

Need to Know

Trail from Dawson Pass to Pitamakan Pass is a bit exposed and may be too much for those with a fear of heights. Always bring a warm hat and gloves as well as a rain jacket as travel through this area, even on a hot summer day, can change quickly. Make sure that you either purchase or rent bear spray. It can be rented in Apgar Village.

Description

Access this hike from the campground at Two Medicine by Pray Lake. Head across the bridge for the Oldman Lake Trail and turn right onto the Pitamakan Pass Trail.

The hike ducks in and out of forests and avalanche chutes as it heads north and bends to the west, climbing over the ridge of Rising Wolf Mountain. After 1.4 miles from the start, look for the waterfall to the left plummeting down from Sky Lake as you descend toward the Dry Fork drainage and begin climbing to Oldman Lake.

The grade is steady and the views only get better the higher you climb. Around one mile out from Oldman Lake, the trail starts into the trees as it increases in grade. Take the Oldman Lake - Campground Spur to the shore of the lake. This is a good spot for a lunch or snack break.

From the junction with the Oldman Lake - Campground Spur, the trail begins to climb steeply up the wall, switchbacking as it gains almost 1,000 feet on the way toward Pitamakan Pass.

From up at the pass, beautiful alpine lakes sit below the ridge as the Cut Bank drainage comes into view. For the next three miles, the trail continues atop the ridge with views into the Coal/Nyack area and wide open views of the peaks beyond. Traverse across the goat trail with a quick view down toward Oldman Lake between the saddle of Mt. Morgan and Flinsch Peak.

The trail bends around Flinsch Peak and heads to Dawson Pass. Look out for bighorn sheep as you enter Bighorn Basin. Eventually, the trail ducks back into the trees, but be sure to take a last look toward the huge spire called "Pumpelly Pillar."

If the last tour boat hasn’t departed, you can take the Two Medicine Lake South Shore Trail to the Two Med Boat Dock spur trail located at the trail junction. Otherwise, push on for a little over three level miles above the northern shores of Two Medicine Lake, returning to your vehicle.

The hike can be done in either direction. Following this route in this direction, the views remain interesting the entire trip. Doing the trip in a clockwise direction allows you to ensure you catch the boat and get a majority of the elevation out of the way at the beginning of the day.

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

Flowers vary from the valley bottoms to dry alpine slopes from columbine to moss campion. Tree squirrels and chipmunks give way to marmots and golden-mantled squirrels. Bighorn sheep are the most common large animal, but mountain goats, moose, bear, and deer may all be seen.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jake Bramante

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 20 votes

#1

in Two Medicine

#292

Overall
  4.9 from 20 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Two Medicine

#8

in Montana

#292

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10,075 Since Jun 9, 2016
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Photos

Awesome part of the Dawson-Pitamakan trail curving around Mt. Morgan.
Jan 23, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Looking south into the Upper Nyack region with Tinkham Mountain in the foreground.
Jun 10, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Never Laughs Mountain, Grizzly Mountain, Painted Tepee Peak, and Sinopah Mountain (left to right) with Two Medicine Lake in the front
Sep 12, 2019 near Bison, MT
Dawson Cutoff overlooking Pitamakin Lake.
Jun 10, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Oldman Lake
Sep 12, 2019 near Rising Sun, MT
Glacier National Park spreads out from Dawson Pass!
Dec 23, 2015 near Rising Sun, MT

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Check-Ins

Sep 16, 2019
Meghan Hazer
Sep 11, 2019
Christina Doan
Saw two female moose, a calf, a male bugling elk with his harem, and a bear. Great views all around! 18.8mi
Jul 16, 2019
Matt Goolsby
Great hike. Going up Pitamakan definitely easier. Dawson side not as scenic and very exposed. Steep decline and lots of miles in woods to finish it 17.8mi — 7h 38m
Jul 11, 2019
Cody Jackson
Jun 29, 2019
Cody Lanpher
Super scenic and beautiful! Some say, it's the premier day hike in all of Glacier. Trail is never steep and very well maintained due to mod/heavy t… 20mi — 9h 00m
Jun 20, 2019
Vivek Patel
17.9mi — 9h 00m
Sep 26, 2018
Robert Crumley
Aug 30, 2018
Tilman Giese
19.1mi — 8h 31m