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Grinnell Glacier

*Due to road construction this season in Many Glacier we will not be offering the Grinnell Glacier Hike. For more information here is a link to the press release from Glacier National Park: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/manyglacier.htm


Join us on a trail of astounding proportions. The Grinnell Glacier trail takes hikers through the Cataract Creek Valley, hugging the shoreline of sparkling lakes as it climbs through the strata of Precambrian Belt Rock. The ocher and brick-red hues contrast with the cerulean shimmer of Lower Grinnell Lake as you step through a terrace sprayed by waterfalls, slopes afire with the white-hot stalks of beargrass, and, hopefully, gaze upon a moose munching on sedge and willow in the marshy creek bottoms. Glaciers abound at the summit of the trail, a fraternity of icy expanse that belies the long-term effects of the modern world on these and other glaciers throughout the park. In 1850, Glacier Park contained 150 glaciers! We’ll explore these disappearing giants, their glacial impressions scoured into rock, and the palette of colors that animate this strenuous but rewarding ascent.

Meeting Place: Outside of The Glacier Institute Field Camp Library/Office

Meeting Time: 6:30am *we will confirm this time with you leading up to your tour

Anticipated return time: 5:00pm – 6:00pm *depending on pace of group

Recommended booking dates: Mid-June through September.

Physical Requirements: Difficult- Strenuous  

Distance (roundtrip): 11.3 miles / Total elevation gain: 2,162 feet

          *This is your hike! If you wish to do just a portion of the trail we are happy to accommodate that

Food: Please bring a trail lunch, snacks, and at least one liter of water. Please bring a pack to carry your lunch as we will be having lunch out on the trail.

Equipment: Bring rain gear, warm jacket, gloves, a hat, and comfortable hiking shoes. It can be cold, so plan on having lots of layers of warm clothes to add and shed as necessary. Please keep in mind that snow can linger at higher elevations in Glacier National Park well into the summer months. Binoculars are useful, but optional.

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather. Please check the weather forecast in advance and refer to the gear list for proper attire.

Tentative Itinerary:

*Please note that times are approximate!

6:30am: Meet outside of The Glacier Institute Field Camp Library/Office. Brief overview before departure; we will discuss more details in the car.

6:30am - 8:45am: Drive to the trailhead along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road (depending on road status) or Highway 2. In the car we will make our introductions, we will have an overview of the day’s itinerary followed by a brief training in bear safety procedures, Leave No Trace Ethics, and trail etiquette.

8:45am - 1:00pm: We will start the day with a discussion on moose and bear ecology. Moving out of the marshy bottoms we’ll begin our rise above the alpine lakes, distinguishing the physical and chemical processes creating the wide assortment of colors in the rocks and waters.

1:00pm - 1:30pm: Lunch! Our hard work will be rewarded with amazing panoramic views of Grinnell and Gem Glaciers. Over lunch, we will take a close look at climate, and how it affects flora and fauna in Glacier National Park, and identify the dynamics wrought by the dramatic change in Grinnell Glacier over the past couple centuries and continuing today.

1:30pm - 4:00pm: On our descent, we’ll practice our plant identification skills and describe the various research methods used in the park to measure our last remaining glaciers.

4:00pm - 5:45pm: Return to the Glacier Institute Field Camp, stopping for any photo ops or wildlife sightings (where it is safe to do so).

5:45pm - 6:00pm: Arrival back at Field Camp. Course wrap-up, Q&A, course evaluations.