Hiking Project Logo

Ptarmigan Tunnel Route

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.6 (12) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A hike up to a unique 250-foot tunnel through a sheer, rock wall with incredible views on each side.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

10.9

Miles

17.5

KM

Out and Back

7,231' 2,204 m

High

4,961' 1,512 m

Low

2,283' 696 m

Up

2,283' 696 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (5°)

27%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Tunnel opens around July 17 each year. Bring bear spray.

Overview

The 250-foot, constructed tunnel, known as Ptarmigan Tunnel, goes from one stunning view, through the sheer ridge of Ptarmigan Wall, to another stunning view on the other side.

Need to Know

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

The Ptarmigan Trail shares a trailhead as well as its first 2.7 miles with the Iceberg Lake Trail (both can be paired for a longer day). Although the first two-tenths of a mile climb at a fairly steep grade, the trail quickly flattens out, becoming a nice, gradual incline taking you to broad meadows. Keep an eye on the meadows along the slopes above and below the trail, as this area is frequented by bighorn sheep and grizzlies. Occasionally, you can see mountain goats in the rockier cliffs higher up.

The trail heads into the forest with scattered views as you go by Ptarmigan Falls at mile 2.6, which you can see through the vegetation. The Iceberg Lake Trail splits off just after Ptarmigan Falls. The trail continues and gets steep once again. Huckleberries are plentiful here, and black bears are not uncommon, so be prepared. At a little over 1.6 miles from the junction, you'll reach Ptarmigan Lake. You'll see the two switchbacks up on the slope to the tunnel. There is definitely more than a little work ahead of you, but once you reach the tunnel it will all be worth it.

The views looking back down the drainage over the lake are fantastic. The views on the other side of the tunnel are even more breathtaking. The trail on the other side was hewn from the red rocks and offers staggering views onto Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River drainage. It’s time to turn around, enjoy the views looking into Many Glacier, and drop back down to your vehicle.

This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visithike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to hike.

Flora & Fauna

Meadows house numerous flowers with the forest dotted with others. Huckleberries are plentiful as you head up the drainage to the tunnel. Moose can be seen in the drainages below the trail feeding on willows while grizzlies and bighorn sheep graze in the meadows. Mountain goats can be seen in the cliffs above. Near the tunnel, look across the rocky slopes below the cliffs for bighorn sheep.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jake Bramante

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 12 votes

#4

in Many Glacier

#859

Overall
  4.6 from 12 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Many Glacier

#20

in Montana

#859

Overall
61 Views Last Month
3,418 Since Jun 14, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
27%
0%
73%
0%

Photos

A view of Mount Wilbur from the Iceberg Lake / Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail.
Jan 31, 2016 near Swiftcu…, MT
Getting a first glimpse at Mount Grinnell on Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.
Jun 29, 2019 near Swiftcu…, MT
Switchbacking Ptarmigan Wall above Ptarmigan Lake near the tunnel. with permission from phil h
Jun 14, 2016 near Swiftcu…, MT
View from inside tunnel
Aug 22, 2018 near Swiftcu…, MT

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Unknown See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Jan 5, 2020
Evan Epperly
Sep 9, 2019
David Swartwout
Aug 19, 2019
Brian Rishel
10.9mi — 6h 00m
Aug 6, 2019
K W
12mi
Jul 26, 2019
Rachel Affleck
Jul 13, 2019
Matt Goolsby
Combined this with Iceberg. Spectacular. Made for a 15.2 mile day. — 7h 33m
May 1, 2018
Cassie Milhon
Sep 14, 2017
Steve Schildwachter
Continued from Iceberg Lake ranger hike. Snow the whole way with whiteout conditions at the tunnel. 10.9mi