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Just above The Weeping Wall In Glacier National Park sits a lump of a mountain called Haystack Butte.
Why the name Haystack Butte? Well it looks like a stack of hay that farmers of yesteryear made after harvesting their alfalfa in the Flathead Valley. Thus the name Haystack.
A butte is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small flat top.
So there you have it: an isolated hill that looks like a haystack.
It is easy to overlook Haystack Butte. At 7,486 feet it certainly is not a major peak in Glacier. From another perspective Haystack Butte seems to want to loom over the McDonald Creek Valley but is immediately overshadowed by its nearest neighbor Mount Gould.
But consider this: How many peaks are there in Glacier National Park that you can honestly take your family to summit? That list is very short indeed. At last count I know of three: Oberlin, Apgar Peak and Lookout, and finally Haystack Butte.
Apgar is a trail to fantastic views, everyone and their dog (which aren't allowed in GNP) does Oberlin (even the dogs would have enjoyed the incredible views!) and that leaves Haystack Butte as the least climbed least popular family friendly peak in Glacier National Park. Consider getting away from the crowds around Logan Pass and set out for an adventure!
Other longer more challenging alternatives include:
Divide Mountain which could be on this list but is a long shot for most young climbers due to a pretty huge elevation gain.
Cataract Mountain is a 5 mile trip and 2,330 foot climb may limit those who are not physically fit.
Another option would be Lincon Peak but an over 4,000 foot gain and 12 plus mile round trip makes this a difficult one day trip for all but the fittest climbers. The best option would be to consider staying at Sperry Chalet or the Sperry Campground and then exploring the area around Sperry Glacier as well.
|To visit Glacier National Park is to enter a place where Heaven touches earth affording brief glimpses into the Wonders of Creation.|
Haystack Butte is located just above The Weeping Wall on Going-to-the-Sun Highway west of Logan Pass.
The "Crown of the Continent" is located in northwestern Montana and shares a border with Waterton International Peace Park in Canada. Driving the world renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass is a great way to see Glacier. Typically Logan Pass and Going-to-the-Sun Road opens near the end of June but it can be as early as the middle of June and as late as after July Fourth. The road isn’t open in the winter but you can ski there.
Interestingly enough there is another Haystack Butte near Augusta, Montana. It is facinating to note the similarities in their shape.
Glacier’s Shuttle System Information
The 2010 shuttle system runs from July 1 to September 6, 2010.
Glacier National Park began offering a FREE shuttle service in 2007. This is a great option for exploring the park. The shuttle runs the entire Going-to-the-Sun Highway from St. Mary on the eastern border of Glacier to Apgar, near Lake McDonald, on the park’s western boundary. Some climbs are close enough to the shuttle route and are short enough in time requirements to allow use of the shuttle service. Piegan is one such climb. The earliest shuttle’s depart from Apgar at 7:00 a.m. and generally take 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Logan Pass due to road construction on the Westside of the Logan Pass. Trips from St. Mary are generally less lengthy and take an average of 60 minutes from St. Mary to Logan Pass. The first shuttle departs St. Mary at 7:00 a.m. The last shuttles depart from Logan Pass at 7:00 p.m.
The Park Service recommends being prepared to wait for shuttles with proper clothing, foot gear, water, snacks and other gear such as sun screen.
See the Glacier National Park’s website for more information at Shuttle Service.
For current National Park Entrance Fees: Current Park Information
For all the Rules and Regulations governing Glacier National Park look at the Rules and Regulations. You can find a PDF files here with a lengthy treatises about what you can and can't do but it could keep you out of jail.
You do not have to register for day climbs in Glacier National Park but it is recommended. Backcountry travel regulations can be found at Backcountry Travel. There is also information from the Park Service on Mountain Climbing in Glacier.
As with all hiking and climbing in Glacier National Park use caution and practice good manners with the wildlife. You are in bear country. Carry your bear deterrent, don’t hike alone and make some noise. For more information please go to the Park's website for Bear Information. The U.S. Forest Service also has helpful information on Grizzly Bear Management.
Directions to the Trailhead
There are two trailheads for routes to reach the off-trail section of this climb. Either route leads to the saddle between Haystack Butte and Mount Gould.
The most direct route is climber’s trail from the just above The Weeping Wall. It is referred to by Edwards as The Haystack Butte and the Garden Wall Trail from the Highway (pages 277-278). This route takes about 30-40 minutes and saves about 7 miles off the total round trip mileage.
The more scenic alternate route is to hike along the Highline Trail from Logan Pass. This entails approximately 4 mile hike underneath the Garden Wall. Not a bad way to see Glacier.
An up-to-date guidebook for this route can be found in Climb Glacier National Park, Routes for Beginning and Intermediate Climbers; Volume 1: Logan Pass, The Garden Wall, and Siyeh Bend. Purchase it when you arrive in northwestern Montana or purchase it on-line at Climb Glacier National Park.
After reaching the saddle between Haystack Butte and Mount Gould study the route to the southwest corner of the peak where the angled face meets the cliffs. It is an easy walk through meadows of Glacier’s wildflowers to this point (depicted at #4) on the Topo and on the photo labeled Family Friendly Route).
From this point work uphill through trees for a short time and then up the flower filled SW side of Haystack Butte. The summit can easily be reach with little difficulty.
A goat trail crosses along the top of the butte and by walking to the west end views to Heaven’s Peak can be seen. To the east is the massive west face of Gould and the Garden Wall spreads to the north and south.
The return route can easily be retraced. Other options of more difficulty are available if desired but perhaps a direct route back to the saddle between Haystack and Gould is best.
Special Considerations: The rock in Glacier Park is widely varied and it is not unusual to find several different types of rock on any given route. Know your rocks and be certain of your safety. J. Gordon Edwards has an excellent section in his guidebook on rock and climbing safety. Be safe and know your limitations as well as those who are climbing with you. Also refer to the following links for further details: GNP Rock and Grading System and the GMS Climbing Guidelines.
When to Climb
Haystack Butte’s SE face is open early in the year due to its longer exposure to the spring and early summer sun. Reaching the saddle will be complicated by increased levels of snow, but generally if the highway is open this route should be passable.
WeatherMontana gets its share of interesting weather. On June 8, 2008 over 2” of snow fell in the Flathead Valley and up to 24” inches of new snow in the Glacier National Park high country.
Any climbing or hiking in Glacier is much more pleasant if the weather cooperates. To see the latest weather visit Glacier Park Weather.
Equipment and CampingCrucial gear includes: bear deterrent spray, water, sturdy footwear and a camera.
Camping at Logan Pass is not permitted.
The options for camping include:
GNP Campground Information, USFS Campgrounds, Camping on the Blackfeet Reservation or East Glacier Campgrounds
External LinksGlacier National Park in Pictures
Glacier Mountaineering Society
Logan Pass Trails