The Two Medicine area of East Glacier National Park is a sacred landscape for the Blackfeet Nation, and it is with honor and deep respect for their territory and history that I share my experiences from this incredible countryside. It is no wonder to me that Two Medicine is a traditional site of vision quests for the Blackfeet people, and I am grateful for the opportunity to walk the trails crossing their land, and to take in the raw nature of such a precious place.
Starting at an elevation of 5,164’, the hike from the store at Two Medicine Lake to Upper Two Medicine Lake is approximately 12 miles round trip with a mild elevation gain of 350’. Two Medicine Lake offers a ferry to cross for a shorter hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake, and it also provides recreational water activities like canoeing for those who want to hang by the entrance.
The trail passes through a small valley surrounded by multiple peaks, scalloped by glaciers over the eons— sharp black rock striped with snow, providing a stunning contrast from the lush greenery that blankets the valley. The lakes lie just south of the Continental Divide. It is an enjoyable walk throughout its entirety, passing through forest and meadows populated by bear grass, wildflowers, and chunks of pink rock.
Beavers, marmots, goats, grizzly and moose may be seen along this trail, although we started our hike too late in the day to be so lucky for any animal sightings. As much as we hoped to spot a grizzly, we certainly did not want to face off with one on the trail. For anyone considering hiking the backcountry of Glacier National Park, bear spray is a necessity.
So is weather gear: on this trail, we transitioned between short and long-sleeved shirts, and puffy rain jackets. Although temperatures hovered around 60 degrees (F) for early June, we faced cold rain and hail, as well as sunshine, and were frequently stopping to adjust our clothing for the changing weather.
Click here to see My Packing Guide for this trip!
Our small group consisted of seven friends made through Race2Adventure, an adventure travel group that has taken participants all over the world! Although this was not a trip coordinated by R2A, the life-long bonds and friendships made through participating in those trips have inspired our own adventures together.
Read about my previous R2A trip here!
We stopped at Twin Falls along the way to Upper Two Medicine Lake. The rushing falls are split by a large black rock, too large a space to be captured by a standard camera lens. We took portraits and group shots in front of the left waterfall, teetering on fallen logs and enduring the ambient mist and yelling at each other over the deafening noise of the falls.
We continued up the trail for another few miles, on the Northerly slope of the valley, passing trees below and snow peaks above. The meadows were a vibrant green, weather changing from humidity to rain.
For a few brief moments, we were back under the trees before the trail opened up to Upper Two Medicine Lake. We enjoyed the moments of sun while taking our quick lunch here before suddenly the sky opened up a downpour of rain and pea-sized hail upon us.
On the way back to the trailhead, we decided to take the opposite side of Two Medicine Lake. This route led us through the forest, growing more misty by the minute, as the sun was falling quickly in the early evening sky.
After a few failed attempts to shortcut our river-crossing, we eventually found our bridge and soon were back to the store that marks the beginning of the trail.
All in all, we hiked approximately 15 miles along this loop from Two Medicine Lake to Upper Two Medicine Lake, including our few extra miles due to our failed attempts to short cut the rivers (in drier seasons, this may have been possible).
But this hike was so beautiful, we didn't mind the extra miles to soak in the gorgeous landscape, those black rocks and vibrant green hills, the tall forest pine and lakes so clear, they easily reflected the changing clouds in the sky.
With the proper weather gear, the hike to Two Medicine Lake is well worth the road trip to East Glacier National Park. It is far less touristy, and yet still leaves so much to be explored.
Click here to read about the other adventures of our Honeymoon Road Trip!