Hike to Dawson Pass

Dawson Pass Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Katch Silva

Distance: 9.5 mile roundtrip. Elevation gain: 2,450ft. Panoramic mountain pass views. Chance to spot bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

This is a somewhat strenuous but extremely rewarding hike in Glacier National Park. It is much less crowded than the more popular Logan Pass and High Line trails, and in my opinion, more rewarding.

Dawson Pass is on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7,598 feet. It sits between Mt. Helen and Flinsch Peak. You will get amazing panoramic views of Glacier National Park, but be prepared for very strong wind gusts. Be sure to bring extra layers because the temperatures at the Pass will be significantly colder than through most of the hike, even in the summer. Since you're in bear country, be sure to make lots of noise and carry bear spray, which you can buy at the lodge store by the lake.

The hike officially starts at the Two Medicine Campground at the North Shore Trailhead. Starting here would make the roundtrip total 12.5 miles. However, you can bypass the first (less exciting) 2.5 miles by taking a boat across Two Medicine Lake (about $12/person roundtrip).

Once on the west end of Two Medicine Lake, the trail starts easy on a small boardwalk. After about 3/4 mile you'll reach North Shore Trail junction, take a right to continue to Dawson Pass Trail. Then another mile takes you another junction, make a left to get on Dawson Pass Trail. This is where the climbing begins.

You'll go through some switchbacks, with huckleberry bushes lining the trail, and eventually reach a junction. If you take a left, you will reach No Name Lake after a super short 1/5 mile down. Its a good spot to stop for a snack. There is also a campground for backpackers if you'd like to camp.

Once back on the trail, continue to climb steadily. You'll pass beautiful meadows and wild flowers. You'll reach a spot called Bighorn Basin. Be sure to keep an eye out for Bighorn Sheep, you're almost guaranteed to see some on the ridge above. After climbing above the tree line, you can look back and get a view of No Name Lake, as well as Two Medicine Lake way beyond. You'll soon reach Dawson Pass and you won't regret the strenuous hike!

Distance

9.5 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

2450 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

St. Mary / East Glacier KOA

Saint Mary, Montana

West Glacier KOA

West Glacier, Montana

From $99/night

Under Canvas Glacier

Coram, Montana

Whitefish / Kalispell North KOA

Whitefish, Montana

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Overall rating: 

You can look down into 3 different valleys on this pass. It's incredible!!

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