Overview (Primary image photo by NathalieLouise)
Kintla peak is the highest point in the Northern Livingston Range. It is one of six peaks over 10,000 feet in the park. As noted in Gordon Edwards Climbers Guide to Glacier National Park, “This magnificent area embraces the most rugged terrain in the park, extending north from Heavens Peak to Kintla Lake and culminating in the vicinity of Boulder Pass (7600 ft).
According to the History of Glacier Park, “The only explanation for this historic name is found in a reported legend of the Kootenai Indians, to whom the word "Kintla" means "sack." It is reported by the older Indians that in the olden days in their hunting, camping and visiting trips they would cross the mountains near this point, but would never go near the water because it had been reported that one of the Indians had gone to this lake and had fallen in and disappeared, meaning that he was drowned and his body did not come back to the surface. They stated that the lake was like a sack — after you got in you could not get out.” http://www.glacierparkinformation.com/history/
The region is relatively inaccessible except for persons who are willing to pack in enough supplies and equipment to enable them to spend at least one or two nights in the high country. Most climbs in the northwestern part of the park are approached by trail or boat after a long, long drive up the valley of the North Fork of the Flathead River…The peaks around Brown Pass and Boulder Pass may also be reached from the east, where the commercial launch service to the foot of Waterton Lake can be used to reduce the hiking distance to less than 14 miles…”
Glacier National Park is located in the NW part of the state and extends up to the Canadian border which it shares with Waterton National Park of Canada. One scenic approach involves driving up the Chief Mountain highway and cross the border before continuing on to the town of Waterton which is home to the famous Prince of Wales Hotel at the foot of Waterton lake. From there you can take a ride on the International to Goat Haunt ranger station where you reenter the US at the dock. An alternative is an 8 mile hike around the north shore of the lake. When I took said trail in 2002, I had a brief description of the trail from the rangers which indicated that the total elev gain/loss was several feet, but they failed to account for several significant hills resulting in perhaps 1,200 feet of difference between the start and finish! The boat is a very nice alternative, but runs on a sporadic schedule during the summer months and is not in service in the winter and spring. The hike toward Boulder Pass from Goat Haunt is about 14 miles.
Logistically, it may be simpler to approach from the west, driving up the N Fork road outside the park boundary to Polebridge where a bridge across the N Fork takes you into the park as you clear the ranger booth. From here most climbers continue up to Kintla Lake where they park and prepare for the backpack 14 miles toward Boulder Pass up to the vicinity of Upper Kintla lake campground. Continue another 3 miles before leaving the trail to head in toward the Agassiz Glacier basin.
Either direction will entail about 2,000 vertical feet gain from the road to the Boulder Pass area. There is some 800’ loss descending into the glacier basin and finally another 3,000 vertical feet to the summit.
See my Akakola Lake route description for another ambitious way to get to the summit!
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
Trail Guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks
Red TapeRed Tape
National Park entrance fees apply in Glacier National Park. See Entrance Fees
Waterton Lakes National Park entrance fees.
See Entrance fees (Canadian $)
Passports should be taken CPB if you are entering Canada to pass through Waterton and return via Goat Haunt. The western approaches do not quite reach the Canadian border. Also, firearms and fireworks are not allowed to be transported into Canada and there have been issues with bear spray occasionally in the past.
If crossing tribal land which shares a boundary with the eastern portions of the park, permits are required and camping is restricted to established camping areas only. See Blackfeet information
There are many camping sites available at Glacier Park; backcountry, as well as car camping. Due to the large number of grizzly and even larger number of black bears who inhabit the area, there are strict guidelines for storage of food. Most of the backcountry campgrounds have facilities for hanging your food from cables or bearproof poles, but you need adequate lines to hoist your packs, etc 15 or 20 feet off the ground. If you are seeking an “undesignated area” camping permit, the rangers may require you to use a bear barrel to protect your food. When we backpacked in to Buffalo Woman Lake, they loaned us a bear barrel since they did not think we could find adequate tree limbs for hanging our food, etc. Hanging your packs is a good idea, since I have seen damaged packs from chewing by rodents. The GNP rangers require you to view an informational video annually before you can purchase your first backcountry permit.
GNP Campground Status and Infor
Backcountry Camping Info
Backcountry Camping Sites
When to ClimbJuly, August, September and into October depending on the amount of snow
External Links and GuidebooksGlacier Mountaineers Society
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
Trail guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks