Two Medicine – Glacier National Park

East Glacier, MT

After spending the past year on the east coast, we have been very anxious to get back to the great hiking sites of the west.  For the past month we’ve been slowly moving along US Rte. 2 heading for Glacier National Park.  Finally, we made it!  We set up the motorhome at a nice little RV park in East Glacier, MT and headed in to the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park.

Finally, some mountains!

The view from the entry road to Two Medicine

Two Medicine Lake with Sinopah Mountain in the background

Our first hike was along the southern shore of Two Medicine Lake.  But first, John had to practice his “Quick Draw McGraw” move with a can of bear spray.

Beware, Yogi Bear, Beware!

Our first stop was for a visit to Astor Falls.

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We then climbed up the side of the mountain for almost a mile to view the lake from Astor Park, a rocky outgrowth.

The view from Astor Park

Continuing our hike along the lake, we came to a suspension bridge over Paradise Creek.  It’s a solid structure but the walk across is a bit wobbly.  The bridge is removed by the Park Service for the winter.

Paradise Creek Bridge

We finally came to our destination, the Rockwell Falls.

As we turned to head back, a light mist dampened the trail and shrouded the mountains around us.

We returned to the Jeep after hiking over nine miles!  This was our first day of hiking and the altitude here is about 5,100 feet, so we had intended to make it a short, break-in hike.  But when Drill Sergeant Pam is in charge of planning, make sure you pack a lunch!

The next day the drill sergeant allowed our tired legs to rest a bit and only planned a short hike to Running Eagle Falls, a nearby waterfall that sounded interesting

A tourist reads the story of Running Eagle

The waterfall is named after Pitamakan, or Running Eagle, a female warrior leader of the Blackfeet Nation in the early 1700s

The waterfall receives its nickname, “Trick Falls,” because there are actually two separate waterfalls in the same location. During the spring run-off water rushes over the top ledge for a 40-foot drop, while obscuring the lower falls. However, by late summer, after the upper falls has dried up, water continues to rush through a sink hole at the top of the cliff before flowing out of an opening in the cliff face, thus creating the lower 20-foot falls.

The next day our legs were feeling strong again, so the drill sergeant planned a hike completely around Two Medicine Lake, with a little side trip to Upper Two Medicine Lake, a mere 12.6 miles!  The views along the north shore of the lake were fantastic.

Beyond the west end of the lake,  the 7620-foot Pumpelly Pillar came into view directly in front of us.  The glacially carved, cone-shaped rock is named after Raphael Pumpelly, leader of the Northern Transcontinental Railway Survey party that crossed Pitamakan Pass in 1883.

Pumpelly Pillar

After hiking around the pillar, we took a short spur trail to Twin Falls.  Twin Falls is a beautiful set of cascades flowing off the eastern slopes of Pumpelly Pillar. The two falls are separated by roughly 50 feet before converging again near the trail.

Twin Falls

About a mile and a half to the west of the falls is the very remote Upper Two Medicine Lake.  Before reaching a small beach area on the east side of the lake, we first passed through the Upper Two Medicine Lake backcountry campground.  The campground contains four individual rustic campsites.

Upper Two Medicine Lake

As we hiked to and from the Upper Two Medicine Lake we stopped a few times to sample one of nature’s tastiest treats, Huckleberries.

On the return hike, we took the southern trail back around Two Medicine Lake.  The first part of the trail around the lake goes up the side of a mountain, providing some stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.  Below us on the lake we spotted the shuttle boat that ferries hikers from the lodge at the east end of the lake to a small dock on the west end.  Taking the shuttle shaves 2.2 miles off the hike in each direction, but our drill sergeant would have no part of the shuttle!

The empty shuttle heads west to pick up a group of hikers

Beautiful wildflowers can be spotted all along the shoreline

These three hikes were a wonderful way for us to return to the west.  But one more hike is in front of us before we move to the north.

More on that later . . .

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24 Responses to Two Medicine – Glacier National Park

  1. libertatemamo says:

    So lovely to see you back “in your element”. I really feel the west is close to your hearts.
    And you’re hard-core to jump right back into the hiking like that! I’m impressed!
    Nina

  2. Yeah, mountains and tall mountains…oh my heart is yearning 🙂
    I had to chuckle about your Drill Sergeant Pam, i think in every RV household there is always one. I won’t say however who in the Lowes household is “it.”

    You two don’t need to break in, you are good to go as soon as you saw those beautiful mountains.

  3. Laurel says:

    Welcome back to the West! Such spectacular scenery and hiking trails — we can’t wait to get to Glacier — tried last year but got shut-out by the government shut down. We have the family-size canister of bear spray just like the one you have (bought it in Yellowstone last year) — haven’t had to use it, don’t want to, but we took it on every hike. I have to admit, we felt more comfortable with it when hiking in bear country!

  4. Your pictures are beautiful! All of these hikes sound wonderful. When we were at Glacier several years ago it rained every day so our sightseeing was limited to driving around in the truck. Thanks!

  5. LuAnn says:

    What gorgeous photos! We are so looking forward to getting to Glacier next year and now have the hikes lined up as well thanks to the two of you. You two are just amazing, jumping right in like you have. I’m not sure I will be able to keep up with either of you when we meet up to hike later this year. Hopefully you will see blue skies the remainder of your time in Glacier. 🙂

  6. Sue says:

    Don’t think we didn’t notice a flower picture snuck in amongst all the he-man mountain hiking pictures, you old softie….

    Sue

  7. Yay! So glad you made it to Two Medicine! We did most of the hikes you mentioned, but we weren’t able to hike on the north shore trail as it was closed while we were there. The week before we moved to that campground, a black bear charged some people in the campground. The rangers chased it away, but since that bear had a “history”, they shot and killed it. They left the body for the grizzlies to feast on, which they did. But the body was close to the north shore trail, and since the grizzlies were enjoying their free meal, the trail was closed the whole time we were there!

  8. heyduke50 says:

    glad to hear the bugs weren’t bad there as it makes hiking all the more enjoyable… we have a great recipe for huckleberry macaroons…

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    Wow! What a wonderful feast for the eyes!! Although my feet hurt at the thought of covering all that ground :-). One of us needs to take Drill Sergeant class to keep us both “motivated”! Did you even try to pronounce that Blackfoot name on the information sign?? The misty mountain with the burned tree is magical :-)).

  10. Fabulous! So glad you are back in the beautiful West! We may hit East Glacier next summer, thanks so much for the preview! I LOVE eating berries along the trail. Right now we’ve blackberries going strong!

  11. Gay says:

    We were right there this time last year…..you lucky folks! What an incredible 3 hikes you had!

  12. pmbweaver says:

    One word….FANTASTIC!

  13. DeniseinVA says:

    Just surfed on in and so glad I did. That scenery is spectacular. We were in Glacier National Park last year for a short while but didn’t see Two Medicine. A place to go to on our next trip out there. Loved my visit, thank you!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Denise! Two Medicine is kind of out of the way since it is in the very southeastern corner and there aren’t many places to stay but worth the visit.

  14. allisonmohr says:

    Wow – you guys have really made a hiking comeback. I’m impressed by your mileage. Glad to see you back in the west.

  15. Sherry says:

    So glad to get all this information and these beautiful pictures of the hikes in East Glacier. I broke my ankle in West Glacier and we never got to do anything after that. Hope we will get back there next summer so I’m definitely taking notes. Do you recommend your campground? I thought we were the hikingest hikers we know but you’ve got us beat by a mile.

    • placestheygo says:

      Sherry, the park we stayed at was the only park actually in East Glacier. RV Reviews list another but it is way south and a long drive to Two Medicine. Our park was Y Lazy R Ranch. It was on a bluff with great views all around. They have eight FHU and several w/E sites. Not big sites but it wasn’t crowded during our stay so everyone was spaced. It was only $25 for FHU! The NP is $20 for nothing. There is a lot of train movement constantly but they don’t blow their whistles. We didn’t mind it at all. It didn’t bother us at night at all. Two Medicine campground in the park has some spots for large rigs. There are no hook ups but you can use generators in some parts. There are lots of trees. We need electric so we didn’t even consider it. No reservations.

  16. Pumpelly Pillar. Love it!

  17. judy says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Nice choice of trails drill sergeant 🙂

  18. Holly Ritger says:

    Beautiful photos! Do you both write this blog?!

  19. Pam says:

    We might be there this time next year so thanks for the camping info and the hike preview. Gorgeous!

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