Longfellow Peak is a long way from any well maintained trails in the park. J Gordon Edwards describes a route which has become a tremendous bushwhack in the last several decades. A more reasonable approach is described herein that follows the old Dutch Creek trail which has had some modest efforts applied over the years to cut out fallen timber to improve access to the Dutch lakes area for fishing. In June, 1998, for example, the Thursday Over the Hill Gang spent a day volunteering to clear the trail up Dutch Creek.
Summit view toward Waterton Lake
Even so, there were a few downfalls hindering progress in 2001 when I joined a GMS outing led by Larry Sandefur to climb Longfellow and Paul Bunyan’s Cabin which is a rectangular hump on the south ridge of Longfellow. We backpacked into a large cirque that is located just south of Longfellow and camped in nice meadows before making the climb the next morning and hiking back out that afternoon. The hiking distance is approximately 12 miles to the base of the mountain where the elevation is about 7,000’ (gaining some 3,400’ on the hike). The climb from there is only an additional 2,000’.
Longfellow is the snowy giant that is seen from Waterton Lake as you look south into Glacier National Park. It is visible looking north from Hwy 2 and from the railroad near West Glacier. There is also a view of Longfellow looking west from the Loop on GTS highway as you look beyond the end of the ridge running north from Heaven’s Peak to the Heaven’s Peak lookout on its northern end.
Topo part 1
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.
topo part 2
The nearest airport is Kalispell. Amtrac stations are in Whitefish, W Glacier and E Glacier. Depending on your travel plans, it may be worthwhile to fly to Spokane, WA and pick up a rental vehicle. Some rentals there may be more user friendly on multiple state use and mileage allowances as well as price.
Find the Dutch creek pack trail which runs along the north side of Dutch creek after crossing the bridge heading north on Glacier Route Seven from the Fish Creek campground vicinity.
Registration for day climbs in Glacier National Park is recommended, but not mandatory.
National Park entrance fees apply in Glacier National Park. See Entrance Fees
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 bear proof 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 backcountry permit.
GNP Campground Status and Info
Backcountry Camping Info
Backcountry Camping Sites
Guidebook: A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park
Trail guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks
Glacier Mountaineers Society
climbing route (Paul Bunyan's Cabin in top center)
Find the Dutch creek pack trail which runs along the north side of Dutch creek after crossing the bridge heading north on Glacier Route Seven from the Fish Creek campground vicinity. Hike ENE along the trail toward the Dutch lakes for about 7 ½ miles to the vicinity of the falls noted on the topo maps.
At this point head in a northerly direction roughly parallel to the Dutch Ridge on the eastern side staying on the western side of the forested area that is to your east. Continue about 4 ½ miles past the smaller Dutch lakes into the cirque just south of Longfellow. We did not encounter much brush along this stretch staying west of the forested areas.
The climb begins near the center of the cirque as indicated on the route photo and is mostly class 3 if care is taken in route finding. Note that there is the abundance of loose rocks and normal caution is prudent to avoid knocking rock down on your fellow climbers.
Paul Bunyan's Cabin
To also climb Paul Bunyan’s Cabin, descend the south ridge to the saddle between Longfellow and the Cabin and follow the ridge to the base of the Cabin. There is a section that can be climbed readily as you start to climb past the start of the Cabin on the left (east) side and nothing harder than a couple Class 4 moves are needed.
Longfellow from Evangeline lake overlook to the east Evangeline lake from summit