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The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

Page Type: List

Location: Montana, United States, North America

Object Title: The Lookouts of Glacier National Park


Page By: TwaMontana

Created/Edited: Oct 15, 2009 / Oct 13, 2012

Object ID: 564040

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Page Score: 76.66%  - 7 Votes 

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The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park once had an array of seventeen manned fire lookouts within its borders, only nine remain standing.

Due to improvements in fire detection technologies, most have been deemed unnecessary and have gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Many were destroyed, only four are still in use today.

Roughly half of these lookouts existed at or near the summit of their mountains, the rest were on prominent ridges.

All had fantastic views of the surrounding country side, which obviously is why their locations were chosen.

Numa Ridge Lookout

Built: 1934.
Still manned during the summer.
Elevation: 6960ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.88373 -114.17992
On a point 1.5 miles SW of Numa Peak over looking Bowman Lake.

Accessible via trail
Trailhead: Bowman Lake Campground
Distance: 5.6 miles
Elevation gain: 2930ft

I have read descriptions saying this is the easiest lookout trail in the park; Not true. It is a bit of work getting to this one. The trail is boring, nothing but trees until you reach the lookout. The views are OK, but nothing to brag about. Although, the day I went the tops of Rainbow Peak and Mt. Carter were in hidden in clouds.

Scalplock Lookout

Built: 1931
Still manned during the summer.
Elevation: 6919ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.29958 -113.57467
On the summit of Scalplock Mountain.

Accessible via trail
Trailhead: Walton Ranger Station
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation gain: 3079ft

A first hand description of the views will have to wait until I visit this winter.

Swiftcurrent Lookout

Built: 1935
Still manned during the summer, as needed.
Elevation: 8436ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.78543 -113.76703
On the summit of Swiftcurrent Mountain.

Accessible via trail
Three possible trail heads

Trailhead: Going-To-The-Sun Loop
Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation gain: 4178ft

Trailhead: Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent Inn
Distance 7.8 miles
Elevation gain: 3492ft

Trailhead: Logan Pass
Distance: 9.9 miles
Elevation gain: 2550ft

All the trails leading to Swiftcurrent Pass are great, try each of them.
Just west of the pass is the turn off up Swiftcurrent Mountain.
It's a bald, brown, round, hump not much to look at.
The trail has a dozen or more switch backs.
It's kind of eerie in spots where the ghostly white remnants of alpine trees that were killed in the fires of 2003 line the trail.

Huckleberry Mountain Lookout

Built: 1968
Still manned during the summer.
Elevation: 6593 ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.60017 -114.13410
On summit of Huckleberry Mountain.

Accessible via trail
Trailhead: On Camas Rd. 5 miles north of Apgar
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation gain: 3403ft

Two previous lookouts stood on this site each burned down in the fires of 1929 and 1967.
This is a great hike. The fist few miles are kind of boring, just trees. But then with each turn and rise you see something new and wonderful. The trail keeps you guessing all the way; Where is the lookout? Then suddenly there it is.
There are great views of the North Fork of the Flathead River, Longfellow Mountain and Heaven's Peak.
Edwards, Gunsight, Jackson, and Stimson fill the eastern horizon. Bear frequent this trail, so keep your eyes open and your pepper spray handy.

Apgar Mountain Lookout

Built 1929
Still standing, not currently in use
Elevation: 5236ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.51809 -114.02070
On summit of Apgar Mountain.

Accessible via trail
Trailhead: 1.5 mile past Quarter Circle bridge just inside the West entrance.
Distance: 2.8 miles
Elevation gain: 1835ft

A previous lookout on this site burned in the fire of 1929.
This is the shortest lookout trail in the park, but not the easiest, it is pretty steep.
A first hand description of the views will have to wait until I visit this winter.

Mount Brown Lookout

Built: 1929
Still standing, not currently in use
Elevation: 7487ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.62854 -113.83376
On point 1 miles SW of Mount Brown's Summit

Accessible via trail
Trailhead: Lake McDonald Lodge
Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation gain: 4305ft

From here you have views of Lake McDonald, Mt Edwards, and the Belton Hills.
This is the steepest lookout trail in the park. The trail is same as used to reach Sperry Chalet and Snyder Lake for the first two miles, were you turn at Brown Lookout Junction. Then things get steep. A total 30 switch backs from the junction. The only good views while on the trail come at turn 7, 25, and 26, the rest of the time all you see are trees.
This is a great snowshoe destination since the road is open to this trail head year round.

Loneman Lookout

Built: 1929
Still standing, not currently in use
Elevation: 7181ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.48899 -113.76963
On summit of Loneman Mountain.

Accessible via trail
Trail head: Nyack Ford just past mile marker 164 on Hwy 2
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation gain: 3900ft

A previous lookout stood here which burned in the fire of 1929.
There are no bridges on the trail to this lookout, so you have to ford the Flathead River and Nyack Creek.
Once you cross Nyack Creek, one mile in, the trail starts a very steady climb to lookout. It's easy to set and maintain a good pace all the way. Not much for views on the trail but once you get to the lookout the mountains of the Great Bear Wilderness and Nyack Valley open up to you.

Porcupine Ridge Lookout

Built: 1939
Still standing, Abandoned.
Elevation: 7100ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.91056 -113.92754
On slope below Porcupine Ridge overlooking the Waterton Valley.

Bushwhack up from Waterton Valley trail 5 miles south of goat haunt.

Will give a first hand description once I have visited it next year.

Heaven's Peak Lookout

Built: 1945
Still standing, Abandoned.
Elevation: 7244ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.74899 -113.87591
On ridge 3 miles north of Heaven's Peak

Bushwhack up from McDonald Creek trail 3 miles north of Packers' Roost.

This is probably the most difficult Lookout to reach in the park.
link to Heaven's Peak Lookout Route

Red Eagle Lookout

Built: 1960
Destroyed: 1986
Elevation: 4896ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.71600 -113.44551
2miles SSW of St. Mary above Red Eagle Trail

Was the only steel structure lookout in the park.

Bear Mountain Point Lookout

Built: 1935
Destroyed: 1965
Elevation: 6200ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.93558 -113.75051
2 miles south of Bear Mountain Summit overlooking Cosley Lake

Heaven's Peak South Lookout

Built: 1945
Destroyed: 1963
Elevation: 4700ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.70226 -113.82398
Mid slope on Glacier Wall 1.5 miles east of Heaven's Peak.

Reynolds Ridge Lookout

Built: 1931
Destroyed: 1963
Elevation: 6400ft
GPS 48.66791 -113.66782
East end of Mt. Reynolds spur overlooking Mirror Pond.

Curly Bear Lookout

Built: 1934
Destroyed: 1963
Elevation: 6500ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.66797 -113.44568
Mid Slope .5 miles north of summit

Elk Mountain Lookout

Built: 1930
Destroyed: 1963
Elevation: 7835ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.30662 -113.44454
Summit of Elk Mountain.

Accessible by trail
Distance 2.6miles
Elevation gain: 3175

Waterton Lake Lookout

Built: 1930s
Abandoned 1940s (not sure if some of it still exists)
Elevation: 5300ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.96147 -113.88000
.5 miles NE of the end of Waterton Lake

The site is accessible by Waterton Overlook trail.
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation gain: 1100ft

Riverview Mountain Lookout

Built: 1923
Abandoned: 1930s I could find no traces of it when I visited in 2011
Elevation: 5740ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.364040 -113.628439
South side of Riverview Mountain