“From the dense forest below to the high alpine perch, this trail explodes with a crescendo of views.”
— Jake Bramante
Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Bring bear spray.
Steady grade all the way up, but water crossings may dissuade.
This trail breaks off of the Waterton Valley
Trail and will most likely be done as a day run from Kootenai Lakes. The trail starts out in the trees where you come to a ford of the Waterton River. This should be avoided until later in the summer. The ford is deceptively deep, so make sure you prepare accordingly. The river moves slower here which helps.
From there, it is more running through a wonderful forest until you get to another crossing, this time of Valentine Creek. After an easy ford, keep your creek crossing shoes on as another one that doesn't always make it on the map shows up about 50 yards down the trail.
Once across the second Valentine Creek ford, the trail reaches the base of the mountain and begins its climb. The trail has many switchbacks, but they help maintain a wonderful grade up the entire mountain.
As you get higher, the trees gradually give way to low growing alpine plants and subalpine fir. With each step, more mountains become visible and your view up the Valentine Creek drainage gets better.
Once at the lookout at the end of the trail, you peer thousands of feet down to the collections of water that form Kootenai Lakes and moose are visible as little dots with trailing mud in the water. These lakes and the snaking Waterton River are backdropped by a fence line of trees with Mount Cleveland, Glacier's ceiling, dominating your view.
Chances of you seeing anyone on this trail are very slim as few visit the lookout due to its backcountry-only accessibility.
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 run.
Flora & Fauna
Mountain flowers such as arnica and thimbleberry find themselves in the dense forest below giving way to beargrass and alpine flowers as you get higher into the drier alpine. Squirrels, deer and moose can be found at the lower elevations with moose becoming more visible down below once at the top.