The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

The Lookouts of Glacier National Park

Montana, United States, North America
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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 trailTrailhead: Walton Ranger Station
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation gain: 3079ft

A wonderful hike in the summer, trail is always in good shape. Its also a fantastic snowshoe in the 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 LoopDistance: 6.2 milesElevation gain: 4178ft

Trailhead: Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent InnDistance 7.8 milesElevation gain: 3492ft

Trailhead: Logan PassDistance: 9.9 milesElevation 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 southern most point ofThe Apgar Mountains.
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 simple hike up, though I recommend going early morning the trial is on a south facing slope with very little shade.

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.
Trail head: Goat Haunt
Distance 9.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 4100ft

I finally visited this lookout in 2017. Access is very involved. You will need a passport. We drove up to Waterton National park in Canada, purchased a tour boat ticket for $64 Canadian, you need two one-way tickets which is more expensive, there are three boats a day during tourist season 10am, 1pm, 4pm, . The 1 hour boat ride took up to Goat Haunt at the south end of Waterton Lake which is in America so we had to register with US Customs and Border Patrol upon arrival at the camp ground. We camped overnight, and started hiking the Waterton Valley trail at 7am. Its 4.2 miles to the intersection with the lookout trail. Then another 5.4 miles to the lookout. The lookout trail is not really maintained, very overgrown with brush, walking it is more of a bushwhack than a trail walk, along the way you will have to wade across the Waterton River then Valentine Creek, in fact you will have to cross it about 3-4 times depending on how it is meandering each year. Through that creek area it is difficult to find the trail some flagging has been strung in trees and bushes to help keep you on track. Once you starting climbing the steep side of Porcupine Ridge you will go through 17 switchbacks before reaching the lookout.


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 to Heaven's Peak Lookout Route

Red Eagle Lookout

Built: 1960.
Destroyed: 1986
Elevation: 4896ft
GPS Coordinates: 48.71600 -113.4455

12miles 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 -113.7505

12 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 the east side 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 1940 and destroyed
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



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