Swiftcurrent Lookout Trail Glacier National Park ~ a slow hiker's guide™


Swiftcurrent Lookout

Logan Pass Trail Map

Mount Wilbur from Swiftcurrent Lookout © Shawn Coggins www.glacierhikers.com

Mount Wilbur with Atlyn Peak, Apikuni Mountain and Lake Sherburne in the background. Photo taken from the steps of SwiftCurrent Lookout at 8,436 feet. Mount Wilbur elevation is 9,321 feet, while Lake Sherburne elevation is 4,788 feet. Since Lake Sherbourne is really a reservoir its elevation varies. If you were to look over the rock edge straight down to Windmaker Lake it is a drop of 3,086 feet.
The views from the flat area around three sides of the lookout are stunning.

A slow hiker's guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers

Whitefish Pilot article on my Wildflower Guide.

Trail Description for SwiftCurrent Lookout Trail

There are three ways to get to the trail junction for Swiftcurrent Lookout Trail.

DO NOT attempt this hike if you are afraid of steep drop offs. The Lookout itself, on one side, is only a few feet away from a sharp drop off into the Many Glacier Valley of 3,036 feet.

swiftcurrent lookout trail sign

There is no water available at the Lookout. This is a hot exposed trail so if you need water travel down to the Granite Park Chalet and you can buy water and or Gatorade. The trail does a short fairly flat loop up to the base of Swiftcurrent Mountain and then starts to climb steadily. Once the trail switches from the face of Swiftcurrent Mountain to the western edge of the mountain you will have hiked one half mile. This is the end of the long switchbacks from now on the trail jogs up western edge. The photo of Havens Peak and Longfellow Peak was taken from this spot. There are 38 switchbacks give or take a few before you reach the lookout. Unlike The Garden Wall Trail this trail is fairly level, it also doesn't come very close to any major drop offs. Once the trail ends at the steps of the lookout you need to be AWARE that on the side facing Mount Wilbur that the edge drops off over 3,000 feet to the Many Glacier Valley. If you have trouble with the Rimrock Section of the Highline Trail then you have NO Business being on this trail. Windmaker Lake which is visible over the edge of the sharp drop off. Windmaker Lake does not have a trail to the lake. Bullhead Lake is visible in the upper right and corner of the photo below.

Windmaker Lake from Swiftcurrent Lookout © Shawn Coggins www.glacierhikers.com

The top of Swiftcurrent Mountain is fairly level and offers 360 degrees of views of the surrounding mountains, lakes and glaciers. Too actual experience these views you need to position yourself on the various sides of the lookout.

SwiftCurrent Glacier as seen from the steps of the lookout. Behind and above SwiftCurrent Glacier in the notch of Mount Gould is Gem Glacier which was recently downgraded from official glacier status. In the upper right hand corner of the photo are Jackson and Blackfoot Glaciers. Of all the trails that I have hiked in Glacier Park over the last twenty years Swiftcurrent Mountain provides views of more glaciers and former glaciers then anywhere else.
If you go behind the lookout you will be looking down on to the continental divide. The large permanent snow field directly below the lookout at this point is the former North Swiftcurrent Glacier which was dropped from the USGS list after the 2005 USGS survey.
There are so many glaciers from this viewpoint that I am still struggling with identifying the proper names to the visible glaciers. Hopefully will get it done by this winter. (2013-2014) It can get very windy on top of Swiftcurrent Mountain.

SwiftCurrent Glacier foreground, Gem Glacier in the notch above, Jackson and Blackfoot Glaciers background Glacier National Park www.glacierhikers.com © Shawn Coggins

In the foreground in the photo below is North Swiftcurrent Glacier or rather former glacier as it was downgraded to non-glacier status in the 2005 glacier survey by the USGS. Iceberg Peak is the taller of the peaks on the right of the photo. Old Sun Glacier is just below the intersection of the cable in the foreground with Natoas Peak in the background. After the summer season is over I will need to print a series of photos from Swiftcurrent Lookout and study the 3 dimensional topo map at the Apgar Visitor Center.

To the left of Old Sun Glacier and closer to the lookout is Ahern Glacier with just a small tail showing from this viewpoint.

In the foreground Former glacier North Swiftcurrent Glacier and Iceberg Peak Glacier National Park www.glacierhikers.com © Shawn Coggins

Swiftcurrent Lookout is on the continental divide just after Iceberg Peak the divide makes a sharp left and dips down to Ahern Pass and rises up Ahern Peak then follows along till Mount Kipp were it again takes a sharp left to Kootenai Pass.

Heavens Peak and Longfellow Peak from Swiftcurrent Lookout Trail Glacier National Park www.glacierhikers.com © Shawn Coggins

Western view is of Heavens and Longfellow Peaks. At this point the trail switches from the face of Swiftcurrent Mountain to the western edge. Heavens Peak is the western view from The Loop. This is one half mile up the trail and taken from 7,598 feet. Heavens peak is 8,986 feet. Longfellow Peak is 8,904 feet. Swiftcurrent Mountain is 8,436 feet. There aren't very many mountains in Glacier Park that have trails to their peaks. This is the highest elevation that I have hiked in Glacier Park. Huckleberry Lookout elevation is 6,593 feet. Mount Brown Lookout elevation is 7,487 feet. This fall, 2013, I took some photos from the Many Glacier area showing the lookout as a small rectangle on top of Swiftcurrent Mountain. Will add that to the new page I'm working on of the hike from Many Glacier to Swiftcurrent Lookout. Only from Many Glacier are you able to see your final destination from the start of the Trail. Well if you know what you are looking for you can see Swiftcurrent Mountain from the RimRock Section of the Highline Trail.

Trail Links