Pitamakan/Dawson Loop

 3 votes
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Featured Run
Trail

17.9 Miles 28.9 Kilometers

 

86% 

Runnable

100%

Singletrack

3,320' 1,012 m

Ascent

-3,322' -1,013 m

Descent

8,010' 2,442 m

High

5,181' 1,579 m

Low

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

36%

Max Grade (20°)

Unknown

Update

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

Jake Bramante

Overview

Bring bear spray.
The Pitamakan/Dawson run 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.
Features: Lake — River/Creek — Views — Waterfall — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs

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.

Runner Notes

Steep terrain with loose rocks in some sections, but still a great, long trail run.

Description

Access this run 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 run 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 run 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 run.

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.

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  5.0 from 3 votes

#2

in Two Medicine

#64

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#2

in Two Medicine

#6

in Montana

#64

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236 Since Jun 9, 2016
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I have hiked/ run the DP loop over thirty times going both ways. I disagree with the reviewer sending runners to Pitamakin first. Those of us who run it competitively are unanimous in recommending Dawson first. It comes down to three miles uphill after a three mile warmup versus an eight mile uphill and steep downhill at the end. Oct 19, 2016


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