Iceberg Lake – Ptarmigan Tunnel

off Many Glacier Road

off Many Glacier Road

Date: 09/19/2014

Location: Many Glacier, MT

Distance: 15 miles (2 distinct trails Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan sharing first 2.5miles together, mileage is RT doing both trails in one trip)

Elevation: 3000ft

Highest Point: 7255ft

The day started with two “bear jams” on MG road: one grizzly along the river, followed by 3 black bears on the hill. That and this trail’s reputation as bear habitat made me wait at TH for company. Within 10 minutes, an army of hikers arrived as the ranger led Iceberg trail group. I hiked variously with the group, an Albertan couple, and a pair of Virginian backpackers through bear frequent area, noting huckleberry bushes have passed their prime. Along the trail 4 grizzlies were sighted at binocular distance, as well as a female moose, then a herd of bighorn sheep right below the Tunnel. The 75 yard Tunnel connecting MG to Belly River Valley, transports hikers from grey yellow rocky spire landscape to red rock sculp castles, and views of small intimate Ptarmigan Lake to the distant, yet serene Elizabeth Lake.

Iceberg Ptarmigan trail (2)
Iceberg Ptarmigan trail (3)
Ptarmigan Tunnel

Ptarmigan Lake

Ptarmigan Lake

Ptarmigan Tunnel - Ptarmigan Lake (2)

Ptarmigan Lake From South Entrace of the Tunnel

Ptarmigan Lake From South Entrace of the Tunnel

Elizabeth Lake, North of Tunnel

Elizabeth Lake, North of Tunnel

Ptarmigan Tunnel - Elizabeth Lake (5)

trail continues North of Tunnel

Ptarmigan Tunnel - Elizabeth Lake (3)

I returned to Iceberg/Ptarmigan junction alone, where 2.1 miles would get me to Iceberg Lake on this bustling trail. Iceberg trail offered a more expansive view of MG valley; splendid fall color competed with evergreens dotting the valley. The lake itself was the deserving climax. Icebergs have receded, but the lake and the cirque cradling it remain hauntingly beautiful.

Iceberg Lake (5)Iceberg Lake (7)Iceberg Lake (13)

Iceberg Lake (1)

Iceberg Lake

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