Glacier National Park is a spectacular place to visit. Jennifer and I visited the park in 2004 and spent four nights there. One of the hikes we did was to the top of Swiftcurrent Mountain. The trail to get there passed through the Granite Park Chalet which is a hike-in hostel. We hiked in June so it was not yet open but being prepped for the summer season.
Swiftcurrent Mountain is 8,430 feet with an elevation gain of 3,700 feet from the "Loop" trailhead. We parked at the small trailhead at the sharp curve on the "Loop" on the Going to the Sun road. The hike to the Granite Chalet is 4 miles. The first part was through some forest that had burned in 2003. We also saw a huge bear print (see photo) so we were on alert for a while. We the proceeded to hike to the Chalet and then ate lunch there and soaked up the outstanding scenery. By this time there were about 10 other hikers who were taking a break as well. Some of the workers were getting the place all set up. This chalet allows people to hike and sleep there in some of the bunks and offers some dinners as well mostly by reservation.
Up to this point we had not hiked on much snow at all. However, the next 2 miles up to the mountain was about 50% snow covered. Jeff forgot his sunglasses so his eyes were getting worked a bit by the intense light off the snow (he later had a headache and eye strain). Beyond the chalet, there were very few trees. The snow was soft so the path going forward was easy but also sometimes blocked. However, we kept our eyes on the fire lookout on top and we traversed the mountain as needed.
We got to the top and spent about 45 minutes up there. It was windy but the view was awesome. The fire look was not yet opened for the season but as it turns out, later in the day during the hike down, we actually passed and chatted with the person who was heading up to open things up. Pretty interesting as she does it each summer and supplies are brought up by mule to her. The fire lookout was built in 1936, similar era to other U.S. fire lookouts. This one was pretty well preserved as was built.
On top, we could look to the north into Canada. We took several pictures on top. On the way down we glissaded down the snow field a bit and had a fun time. We stopped again at the chalet and then hiked down to the car. We drove back to Lake McDonald lodge and enjoyed a nice meal and some huckleberry soda and huckleberry ice cream.
This was a great hike and a lot of great variety and outstanding panorama views.
Granite Park Chalet & Swiftcurrent Mtn Fire Lookout