Heaven's Peak Lookout

Page Type
Montana, United States, North America
Route Type:
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day

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Heaven's Peak Lookout
Created On: Oct 1, 2009
Last Edited On: Oct 8, 2009

Heaven's Peak Lookout

Heavens Peak7

Located on the ridge 3 miles north of the summit, sitting almost on the edge of a one thousand foot shear drop, is Heaven's Peak Fire Lookout.

The views from this lookout are fantastic.
Evangeline Lake is far below to the west with Longfellow Mountain and Paul Bunyan’s Cabin towering above it.
To the north The Guardhouse stands prominent, swinging towards the east Mt. Cleveland followed by Mt. Merritt.
Flattop Mountain lives up to its name from here. You can look across to Granite Park Chalet and down on the Going-To-The-Sun loop.
Looking south you see the long ridge leading up to the summit of Heaven's Peak.

Constructed in 1945, this lookout has been abandoned for decades, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Over the years the lookout has fallen in to a state of disrepair, all of its windows and shutters are busted; there are holes in the roof and floor.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Glacier National Park, the Centennial Legacy Projects were developed.
One of these projects is the restoration of this lookout.
The Centennial Legacy Projects, are being supported by a non-profit organization called the Glacier Park Fund, please visit their web site for information on how you can help.

Glacier National Park once had 17 manned fire lookouts within its boarders; nine still stand today.

Heavens Peak1Looking at Heaven's Peak North Ridge from Swiftcurrent Lookout


Route Description

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Heavens Peak5

Distance: 11 miles round trip.
5 miles on good trail,
1 mile on overgrown abandoned trail,
and 5 miles off trail.
Elevation Gain: 3600ft
Heavens Peak4
Heavens Peak6

The trip starts at Packers Roost, which is an old ranger station and pack horse loading area two miles south of the loop on Going-To-The-Sun highway
Park at Packers Roost and head North on the McDonald Creek Trail.
After 0.8 Miles you will come to a junction with the trail to Granite Chalet, stay left.
Heavens Peak2

In another 1.6 miles you will cross the Mineral Creek Suspension Bridge.
In another 0.1 miles the trail will take a sharp curve to the right, at the apex of this turn you can barely make out where the Old McDonald Creek trail use to turn off and head up the hill. That trail has been abandoned for about 40 years.
Turn left here and follow the Old McDonald Creek trail for 0.6 miles until it hits McDonald Creek. Here you will find a nice rocky spot where you can hop the creek without getting wet late in the year. Earlier you may have to ford the creek.

After crossing the creek bushwhack up the hill. Head West by South West trying to stay on the ridge. Hopefully you will find a game trail though the thick brush. If you don't all hope is lost. The brush just gets thicker and thicker until you can not move. If you find the game trail its a pretty easy walk up.

Once you get above the tree line.
You can climb the steep slope up to the ridge saying below the high cliffs then walk the ridge over to the lookout.
Or walk up the bolder field until it gets steep then head right across the bowl under the lookout, working your way up as you go.
Either way it's a pretty good grunt.

Alternate Route

23 miles round trip, 20 miles on trail, 3 miles off trail.
From Lake McDonald Hike up the Trout Lake trail to Camas Lake. From there bushwhack 1 mile up to the pass between Camas Valley and McDonald Valley. There at the North West corner of the cliffs you will find the old switch back trail that goes up to the Lookout.

Heaven's Peak ascent via the lookout

From this lookout you could continue south along the ridge to ascend Heaven's Peak. This would add another 6 miles to the round trip. Though only a very strong fast climber would be able to complete the trip during daylight. Our trip to the lookout and back took about 10 hours traveling. You can do the math from there.

J. Gordon Edwards book, A Climbers Guide To Glacier National Park, describes the "North Ridge Route" for ascending Heaven's Peak. That route passes through this lookout.

This route above partially follows the route he describes. His route would have you go another mile north before fording McDonald Creek, then bushwhacking up a drainage to the pass between the McDonald Valley and the Camas Valley.

Things changed dramatically in this area after the file of 2003 rolled through. I once attempted to follow Gordon's route, the downed trees and new undergrowth spurred by the fire made things too difficult and the attempt had to be abandoned.

Special Thanks


I would like to thank my climbing partners Larry, Linda, and Diane.
Especially Linda who found the game trail that made the trip so much easier.

And also thanks to SP member FlatheadNative who help with hints on putting together, this, my first page on SummitPost.