Have you all been out and about lately? I certainly hope so, cause I have been lacking so so much in terms of getting posts and videos together to give you an idea of where to go and what to hike. Well, finally got another one for you – and again it’s coming from Glacier National Park…
Today’s hike is the Blacktail Hills trek located near Marias Pass. This is located due west of East Glacier by approximately 30 mins or about 10-15 mins east of Essex on I-2. The parking lot is very easy to find, there will be multiple signs in either direction, and it’s located near a pretty large clearing of forested area.
Once you find the parking lot and get all your gear together, cross the highway. As a special note, be sure to wear long pants as the brush is pretty dense throughout the route. You’ll then cross the railroad tracks and follow the beaten grass to the trailhead. There will only be one sign one this route from the Marias Pass parking lot, so be sure to check the maps before you go. This trail will noted at Autumn Creek, and you will be headed west for the beginning of your route.
As you press along the Autumn Creek trail, you will head about 2.5 – 3.0 miles before you reach a moderate clearing to you south. This will be the beginning potion of your off-trail adventure. Due to the “hilly” nature of this peak, you will be bushwhacking quite a bit, so if you have the opportunity to scout or go with someone in the know, do so. I use the NatGeo series water/tear-resistant maps [here]
Once you begin to make ascent, you will be able to see the ridge lines. These will be able to provide you the best vantage for moving to and from the following areas. You will continue to follow a southwesterly route until you reach the second little peak, at which point you will then rap around to the southeast. This will lead you to what appears to be old radio or communication poles. This will be the actual summit of the hill – from which you will be able to Little Dog and Summit peaks to the North, Great Northern and Reynolds (?) peaks to the west, and various other peaks throughout.
The trek down is a bit skosh if I do say so myself. if you were on the up and up, I’d say it’s a moderate class 2/3 due to overgrowth of shrubs and other foliage. So bring along a trekking pole or walking stick to test your footing. There are hidden game trails as you make your descent, but more than likely they will prove mostly useless. Basically just track your way down to the railroad tracks, and begin to head west. If you missed the Firebrand parking lot, continue the extra mile to get back to the Mirias Pass parking lot. The rocks near the railroad tracks are pretty stable and wildlife signs did indicate bear, but we didn’t see any on our push (group size 7).
Overall, the amount of bushwhacking and descent from the hill kind of reduced the payoff of the overall experience to me. If I did it in the future, I would do it in the wintertime on snowshoes for the sake of sunrise photos. The views are good, but for the amount of work I’d recommend something with a higher summit to avoid excess bushwhacking (unless you’re gung-ho about thwacking through brush).
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Until the next one, get out there and enjoy YOUR adventure!!!