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Adult Backpacking: August 15-19, 2020


Adult Backpacking

 August 15-19, 2020

Going backpacking is on almost every outdoor enthusiasts’ bucket list but most will never take the trip. Either time doesn’t allow for the planning involved, uncertainty of skill level makes you nervous, or you’ve just never made the plunge. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! Let our staff of teacher naturalists guide you through a safe, fun, and memorable backcountry experience that will teach you what you need to know to feel confident with multi-day backpacking adventures.

Meeting Time: August 15, 2020 at 10:00AM

Meeting Place: Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map) 


Your trip fee includes:

  • Four days in the backcountry led by professional naturalist guides trained in wilderness first aid and bear safety.
  • All meals from lunch on Arrival day to lunch on Departure day, although we’re going to teach you to prepare your own in the backcountry!
  • All transportation to and from the trailhead

Your trip fee DOES NOT includes:

Equipment: Please see the gear list. Be prepared for any kind of weather, especially rain and strong winds.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather.

Physical Requirements: Moderately strenuous. Participants will hike an average of six miles each day with an average elevation gain of 1,500-2,000 feet over uneven terrain while carrying a 40-50 pound backpack. See hike specific trail stats on itinerary below (these are approximations).

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle to and from the trail head.

Tentative Itinerary: (subject to change)

Day 1:  Arrive at our Field Camp site between 9:30 and 10:00 am. Spend the day going over things to bring and splitting up our group gear and food. We will spend our first night staying in cabins at Field Camp. 

Day 2: First day on the trail. Hike to Hay Lake - 5 mile hike with a 1,000 ft elevation gain. Camp at Hay Lake.

Day 3: Hike 6 miles with a 1,500ft elevation gain to Link Lake and set up camp for the evening.

Day 4: Hike to Grizzly Inn - 6-mile hike with 2,000 ft elevation gain.

Day 5: Hiking out of the Moose Creek drainage - 5 miles hike with a 2,000 ft elevation loss. Once back at the vehicle we will drive back to Field Camp for lunch, group gear return, and departure.  

Learning Objectives

  • Bear Safety
  • Packing a pack
  • Going light weight
  • Proper weight distribution
  • Setting up a campsite
  • Cooking in the backcountry
  • Proper hydration
  • Reading the weather
  • Map reading
  • Local Flora and Fauna

Suggestions on Getting There

The Glacier Institute Field Camp is located just inside the West Entrance to Glacier National Park. The nearest airport is in Kalispell, Montana, about 30 minutes from Field Camp. Travelers should plan to arrive at Field Camp on arrival day between 9:30 AM and 10:00 AM to check in and get settled. Travelers should plan to depart Field Camp by 4:00 PM on departure day.

If you find airline reservations are difficult to make by flying into Kalispell, an alternative is to fly into Missoula, which is about three hours from the park. If you fly into Missoula you will need to rent a car for the drive up to the park. For those of you who can utilize Southwest Airlines another option would be to fly into Spokane, Washington, and then drive to the park from there. The drive would be approximately six hours. On past trips, some participants have traveled to the Park by Amtrak. The Empire Builder line, which leaves from Chicago, makes a stop at West Glacier.

*Note: airfare and car rental are not included in the trip price.


For our first night we will be staying at the Glacier Institute Field Camp which is best described as "rustic." Though rustic, it is quite comfortable. The camp is located on a bluff overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, and includes five sleeping cabins, a community bathhouse with private showers and bathrooms, a classroom, a library and a kitchen. Each sleeping cabin comes with five twin beds and has electricity, but there is no running water, TV, or phone. The cabins do have a portable electric heater for use if the nights get too cool. A bottom sheet and pillow are provided, we request guests bring their own sleeping bag or other personal bedding. The community bathhouse has flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers.

Every night proceeding will be spent in the backcountry with absolutely no amenities. You will have no running water beside the streams, no heaters besides the sun, and no bed besides what you carry in on your back. This is not “glamping” folks, this is an introduction to “roughing-it.”


Your initial lunch, dinner, and breakfast will be at Field Camp and will be provided and cooked by the Glacier Institute staff. Once departed each hiker will be responsible to carry their own food which will be provided by the Glacier Institute. Meals will be prepared on the trails, and backcountry cooking is one of the educational goals for this trip. We’ll teach you how to properly pack in, cook, and pack out everything needed for a successful and safe trip. We will not be cooking everyone’s food on the trail, but we’ll help you.

For more information about the camp and the Glacier Institute, please visit their website at www.glacierinstitute.org.