Not a major Glacier peak by any means, McClintock Peak is still a worthy objective for several reasons:
* It is a short, easy climb (from the trail). From Cut Bank Pass, the scamper to the summit ascends only about 400' and is about a quarter-mile.
* It can be the starting or ending peak on a long ridge traverse between Cut Bank Pass and Triple Divide Pass that also includes Medicine Grizzly Peak, Razoredge Mountain, and Triple Divide Peak.
* On the way to climb Tinkham Mountain, you skirt the base of McClintock, so why not climb it as well?
* Although it is not directly along the highly scenic Pitamakan-Dawson loop, it is a short detour (for me, round-trip time from the trail, including time taking pictures, was less than 45 minutes).
* It is on the Continental Divide.
* Like most Glacier peaks, it has spectacular views.
Although it's just a hike, a route page for the Pitamakan-Loop would be justified here for its amazing scenery and its summit-like views. However, I'll restrain myself and stick to what's relevant for climbing the peak.
You can hike the 18.8-mile loop either clockwise or counterclockwise, but I'm going to describe the route from the counterclockwise approach because it is shorter unless you take the boat ride across Two Medicine Lake, which cuts two miles from the loop but presents some logistical and timing difficulties.
One-way distance: about 9 miles.
Elevation gain: about 3100' from TH to summit, but the trail has a dip of a couple hundred feet, so add that to the total.
The trail immediately crosses a bridge spanning the outlet of Pray Lake and soon reaches a junction. Turn right for Oldman Lake and Pitamakan Pass.
The trailhead sign says it's 6.2 miles to Oldman Lake Campground, but it's actually 5.9 miles to the turnoff for the CG. At that junction, a sign says it's 1.6 mi to Pitamakan Pass.
Some confusion exists about the pass and its precise whereabouts. Many seem to think it is where the trail crests the Continental Divide and then turns sharply south, but it is not. Actually, the pass is where the trail crests a ridge directly south of Pitamakan Lake. The junction with a trail coming up from the lake is just west of the pass.
Shortly after Pitamakan Pass is a signed trail junction. Head right to go to Cut Bank Pass, which is clearly visible not far away.
Hopefully, the map below will help illustrate what I have described above.
From the pass, just head up the ridge. It took me something like 10 minutes to reach the summit. Mostly, it's Class 2, but if you stick directly to the crest, there will be a little Class 3, none of it very hard or exposed, in my opinion. There was a cairn up top in 2012 but no register.
Some enjoy seeing pictures of them. Some do not, preferring to discover them on their own. As a compromise, pictures of summit views are in this page's gallery but not displayed on the main page.
Getting ThereYou'll need to enter the park at Two Medicine, which is about 4 miles north of East Glacier Park and eight miles south of the junction of U.S. 89 and MT 49. Turn into the campground and drive to a parking area by Pray Lake, where there are signs pointing you to and informing you about the Pitamakan-Dawson Loop.
Red TapeAs of 2012, the park entrance fee was $25, good for a week. Annual and Interagency passes are available for more money but are a better deal.
Trailhead signs cover all the wilderness regulations, so please read them carefully.
This is grizzly country. Carry pepper spray on your person (not in your pack) and know in advance how to use it. The bells some hikers wear have no proven deterrent effect; because they make a high-frequency sound and bears respond better to low frequencies, the bears may often not even hear them, but hikers seeking the natural sounds of the wilderness most certainly do. While the NPS does not officially recommend against the bells, many rangers will privately do so, and the NPS does strongly recommend having pepper spray.
Although it is now legal to carry firearms in national parks, statistics show that pepper spray is a more effective defense than a gun. Most handguns do not have the power to kill an adult grizzly unless you hit it in the eye, anyway, so firing on a charging grizzly, if you even have the time and steady nerve to do so, may just leave you facing a wounded and enraged animal that weighs several hundred pounds and has claws long and sharp enough to gut you in a single swipe.
CampingThe campground at Two Medicine is a nice one as large campgrounds go; it has almost 100 sites, water, and flush toilets. You cannot make reservations, and the campground was filling by early afternoon on summer weekdays in 2012. The nightly fee in 2012 was $20.
Along the Pitamakan-Dawson loop are two backcountry campgrounds-- Oldman Lake (much closer to Morgan) and No Name Lake. Both have a one-night stay limit during the summer, and you must have a permit to stay at either. Permits for these sites are not easy to get. You can try in advance through a lottery system or show up at a ranger station the day before to try to get one; if you do the latter, get there at least half an hour before opening time (7 A.M. in 2012).
See Glacier's backcountry camping page for full details.