“From the large Waterton Lake, through the trees, then up to the sublime, wide open alpine.”
— Jake Bramante
Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Bring bear spray.
This trail is the northern half of the Highline Trail
and is accessed from the south via Flattop Mountain
or from the Highline Trail
or from the north at Goat Haunt. If coming from Waterton, a passport is needed as you cross the Goat Haunt customs and receive a mountain goat stamp.
From the shores of Waterton at Goat Haunt, you enter a wonderful, mature forest. In the early season, the bugs can be terrible, but later in the year, the run is a great, level stroll through the trees. Occasional small ponds and pocket meadows break up the inevitable monotony of the trail. Side trails along the way include one to Kootenai Lakes, the trail up to Porcupine Lookout
, and the trail up Pass Creek. The trail up Pass Creek takes you to Stoney Indian Pass
After continuing along the level trail for approximately six miles, it switches back and begins to climb. At the switchback, a faint trail continues, but is poorly maintained leading to Kootenai Cabin. From the switchback, the trail begins to work its way up. The trees begin to break up and the trail begins to cross avalanche chutes rewarding you with expansive views of the incredible peaks and valleys in the area.
As it gets closer to the alpine meadows above, the trees get a little thicker, and the vegetation changes to more beargrass and subalpine fir. Glacial erratics, or huge boulders left from large sheets of ice moving them around, dot the landscape. Eventually you pop out into the epic meadows below Cathedral Peak and Mt. Kipp. The foundations of an old cabin serve as a reminder to a time at the beginnings of the park. Summits views take your breath away in every direction. Glacier lily bulbs attract grizzlies which can be seen foraging across the landscape. Eventually the trail intersects the Highline Trail
and Flattop Mountain
Trail at the Fifty Mountain campground.
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
Thick, wet, older stands of trees have a variety of lush flora such as thimbleberry and false hellebore. As the elevation increases, it changes to subalpine fir and glacier lilies. Animals along the way can vary from black bear and moose in the lower elevations to mountain goats and grizzlies in the upper stretches.