Tag Archives: Logan Pass

First Backpackers In Glacier

The HistoryHistory has shown that people have been backpacking in Glacier National Park for centuries.

Some of that first backpacking took place at Logan Pass. I hear numerous people talking about driving to “Logan’s Pass” to see the sights or walk up to the Hidden Lake Overlook. Well folks, the correct name is Logan Pass and here is the history behind the name.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July.

Reynolds Mountain from near Logan Pass Visitors Center in July. Snow in the winter is much deeper.

Logan Pass was named for Major William R. Logan, first superintendent of Glacier National Park, from 1910 to 1912. With an annual salary of $3,600, Superintendent Logan faced a lot of dilemmas such as poaching and an enormous forest fire in 1910.

The park also had very few trails. He hired rangers and started making plans to build more trails. At that time, there were only two trails crossing the mountains, one from Lake McDonald to Saint Mary Lake and the other up the McDonald Creek Valley and over Swiftcurrent Pass to Many Glacier.

Logan is also credited with the concept of building the Trans-mountain Road which eventually became the Going-to-the-Sun Road. He would not see his idea of the road become reality; he died in 1912.

The Native American also frequented Logan Pass and they have left a rich history.

This pass has been used for centuries upon centuries before the first whiteman arrived on the scene. It was a well-traveled pass used primarily by the Kootenai Nation and Salish People and occasionally by the Blackfeet.

Schultz wrote that the Blackfeet called the trail to Logan Pass the Ancient Road. He noted that “this pass was used by West side tribes, first the Snakes and later by the Salish and the Kootenai tribes.”

IMG_4061 R

A small portion of the McDonald Creek drainage and the lower section of Logan Creek below Bird Woman Falls.

The Kootenai called this pass, Packs-Pulled-Up.

As you drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Loop you see the deep valley below Bird Woman Falls. This was where the Kootenai People would travel to cross Logan Pass.

In a tradition thousands of years old, the Kootenai would use snowshoes to cross the passes to go hunting on the east side of the mountains between January and March.

The Kootenai would follow McDonald Creek (Sacred Dancing Creek) from Lake McDonald (Sacred Dancing Lake) to the mouth of Logan Creek  and then follow the creek all the way to the headwall below Logan Pass.

From there the Kootenai used rawhide straps to pull their packs and each other up the ledges on the wall. Men would also stand on each other’s shoulders and help each other as they ascended this steep section. At times only men were on this trip but at other times women and children were along to help.

Sliding down the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Hikers on the snow slopes near Logan Pass in July 2014.

Once on top, at present day Logan Pass, they would send their bundles sliding down slope into the St. Mary River Valley. After sending their bundles they slid down and then walked to frozen St. Mary Lake and proceed to hunt buffalo and bighorn sheep along the shores of the lake.

Backpacking has long been the way of life here in Glacier and history has just proven it.

For more on the history behind the names check out What They Called It. This book features stories about the names along Going-to-the-Sun Road and is available on my website.

Do you want to learn more about the history of Glacier National Park? I am on a quest to learn more and I would be glad to help find answers to your questions. Drop me a line at info@climbglacier.com and I will see what I can find out.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

Big foot Sighting In Glacier National Park

The HistoryYep, you read it here first.

The Blood band of the Blackfeet Nation killed a big foot in Glacier National Park before white man arrived.

In fact, the Glacier History feature today is all about the place that they called “BIG-FEET WAS KILLED.”

Mule Deer in the Hanging Gardens.

James Willard Schultz wrote, “in the long-ago, several hunters of the Blood tribe discovered and killed a large big-feet (caribou) bull at this place.  These animals were so rarely found so far south, on the east side of the range, that the place was named after the occurrence.”

Now that place is called the Hanging Gardens.

The “Hanging Gardens are to the beautiful flower-filled terraces between Logan Pass and Heavy Runner Mountain.

If you have been to Logan Pass and walked along the boardwalk toward Hidden Lake you no doubt could imagine seeing caribou in the meadows.

Recommendations for visiting Where Big-Foot Was Shot.

  1. Stay on the trails.  This is a fragile area and the trails allow you to see it in all of its beauty.
  2. Look Closely.  There are a lot of different kinds of flowers in the Hanging Gardens.  You might even notice less mature versions of the same flowers as you gain elevation.
  3. Take lots of photos.  I have been to Logan Pass numerous times and every time it is different.
  4. Keep your eyes open for Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats.  These ungulates are always around.  Goats are easy to spot and the sheep usually hang out near the “Hidden Pass” or near the Hidden Lake Overlook.
  5. Take some time and climb a mountain.  Mount Oberlin and Reynolds Mountain are great options for climbing.

For more information about climbing and off-trail travel near Logan Pass see Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park.

Do you have a favorite area of Glacier National Park that you want to know more about?  Drop me a line in Contact Us and I will get to work on it.

Thanks for reading about this spectacular area of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park history is fascinating.

Not all of it is true but it is all interesting.


Source: Schultz, W. R., Signposts of Adventure, Glacier National Park As the Indians Know It, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

A Lost Peak Named Big Knife Mountain

The History

Back in the day before Glacier became a National Park there were a lot of folks naming peaks and places.

You could name a mountain for your business associate or a government official.  You could name a lake for that special someone at home.  Sometimes people did not even need to visit and they got a landmark named for them.

Eventually, it all came down to some officials making recommendations to Washington D. C. and changing names.  There was a whole criteria that needed to met so they could weed out a few inappropriate names.

One character that played a big role in naming places in Glacier National Park was James Willard Schultz.

Pollock Mountain from near Piegan Mountain

Schultz’s “Big Knife Mountain”

Schultz’s Big Knife Mountain is Pollock Mountain.  At least that is what Schultz and his companions wanted to name it.

Schultz apparently wanted to name it for a white man, likely, W. C. Pollock.  Pollock is the actual namesake for the Schultz’s Big Knife Mountain.

Piegan - Pollock Saddle

Lunch at the Piegan – Pollock Saddle

Big Knife and Long Knife were well-used Native American terms for “white man.”  They have been used since early colonial times.

You might already know that there is a Long Knife Mountain between the USA – Canada Border and Kintla Lake.  I would show you a picture but it was cloudy the day we visited.

“Big Knife Mountain” is a thrill to explore.  It is usually approached from Lunch Creek but can also be reached from Piegan Pass after hiking from Siyeh Bend.

There are multiple opportunities for exploration for those who do not wish to summit Pollock Mountain.

Here are some suggestions for adventure.  

The waterfall at the top of the canyon is spectacular.

The waterfall at the top of the canyon is spectacular.

Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park has photos and descriptions to help you reach of all of the places listed below.

  1. Lunch Creek Waterfalls.  Take about 30 minutes and hike to the waterfall that you can see in the distance from the bridge at Lunch Creek.  A few climbers trails thread their way through the krumholtz before consolidating into a main trail.  Stay on the right side of the creek as you ascend.  Krumholtz is the small evergreen trees that are found above treeline in Glacier National Park.  The Lunch Creek Basin is full of it.
  2. Lunch Creek Basin.  Spend about 2 hours exploring the basin above the waterfall.  Look for a trail to the right of the waterfall that leads to the basin.
  3. Piegan Pass Flowers.  The slopes above Piegan Pass are often littered with flowers.  If you are lucky you will find the goat trail that leads all the way to the saddle between Piegan Mountain and Pollock Mountain.
  4. Piegan – Pollock Saddle.  A great place for lunch above the Lunch Creek Basin.  Look for mountain goats, marmots, flowers, snowfields and a few climbers.
  5. Summit Pollock Mountain by The Great Cleft Route.  This is a classic Glacier route.
The view from above the Great Cleft

The view from above the Great Cleft

For more information on how to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain please see the route description on pages 110 – 119 in Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park.

Thanks for joining me and reading about the peak that might have rather been called Big Knife Mountain.  This mountain is certainly easier to reach and climb than Long Knife Mountain near Kintla Lake.

Glacier National Park history is fascinating.

Not all of it is true but it is all interesting.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Logan Pass Peaks- Mount Oberlin

Headers On RouteLogan Pass is a climbing wonderland in Glacier.

Where else could you park in Glacier and climb 12 summits? Logan Pass is where many people cut their teeth on off-trail travel and climbing in Glacier National Park.  The routes are well established and on any given day there will be parties on the routes in case something happens.

The worst thing, if there REALLY is a worst thing, is dealing with the many hikers on the Hidden Lake or the Highline Trails.  Up here crowds are expected, just smile and wave as you go by them.

Mount Oberlin is seen across flower-filled meadows.  Please use the climbers trail to help protect the environment.

Mount Oberlin is seen across flower-filled meadows. Please use the climbers trail to help protect the environment.

There are a number of classic climbs out of Logan Pass.  Seven of the peaks could easily be on any peak baggers top ten peaks to climb in Glacier.

In The Logan Pass Peaks Series we will take a closer look at these amazing peaks.

Mount Oberlin: Probably the most climbed peak in Glacier National Park.  A great climbers trail leads most of the way to the summit, but please do not follow the trail across the great scree slope as most people do. Instead hike to the saddle between Mount Oberlin and Clements Mountain.

Mount Oberlin is a great family climb, my daughter did it for the first time when she was 6.  My father-in-law is in his 70s and he climbed it.  We have taken a group of 16 people to the summit.  Three were under 10 years old.


It is important to start out on the correct trail so here is a photo of the start.

A climbers trail leads away from the sloped ramp on the north side of the Visitors center.

A climbers trail leads away from the sloped ramp on the north side of the Visitors center.

Once you get started correctly there is a climbers trail that leads all the way to the saddle between Mount Oberlin and Clements Mountain.  That saddle overlooks Bird Woman Valley where Bird Woman Falls forms.

From the saddle the route travels through some easy Class II or III scrambling and finally follows a climbers trail to the summit.

So there you have it.  Mount Oberlin is a great first peak.   Gain some confidence on the route to the summit and then try another one.

For more details you can look on pages 30-39 of Volume 1 of the Climb Glacier National Park series.

Twelve peaks should keep you busy for at least a summer.

If you want even more Volume 1 of Climb Glacier National Park has four additional peaks with routes that originate at Siyeh Bend.

Recommendations For Climbing Near Logan Pass:

  1. Get to Logan Pass EARLY.  I like to be there before 9 a.m. as the parking lot is usually full by noon.  You might not need all day for your chosen off-trail adventure but if you get there too late you might not be parking at Logan Pass.
  2. Stay on the trails and established routes.  This is a fragile environment and we want to save it for the next generation.
  3. Stay away from those goats.  They look cuddly and tame, but they really are wild animals.  Give them space.  Remember you are in their home.
  4. Carry bear deterrent spray.  Grizzlies are seen every summer from Logan Pass.
  5. Do not use the route lined with the yellow line.  Follow the trail ( in red) that leads to the saddle.Do not use the route lined with the yellow line. Follow the trail (in red) that leads to the saddle.  Every time I do this climb I see numerous people hiking across the scree field.  The National Park Service has closed this area across the scree field to prevent further erosion. 
  6. Summit Oberlin as a second peak.  If you have time you can always come back to Logan Pass and summit Mount Oberlin.  I have done it in under and hour and that included taking pictures and notes for the climbing guidebook.
  7. Carry water.  Logan Pass usually has potable water, but bring your own along just in case.

See you on the routes,


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014