Mt. Brown Fire Lookout

October 2018

 

Built in 1928-29 and manned full-time until 1971 this lookout stands at 7,487 ft

The Mt. Brown Fire Lookout is a fantastic feature in the Lake McDonald Valley. You’ll find spectacular views, migratory birds, flora and fauna, and currently you can see just how close the Sprague fire came to destroying this historic structure.  This hike however, is not a casual hike and should only be attempted by those in excellent physical condition.

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The sign does NOT mention the lookout

The Mt. Brown trail boasts the most elevation gain of any official trail in the park at 4,325 vertical feet. This is accomplished in only 5 miles so be prepared for a continuous uphill slog! Find the trailhead directly across the road from the Lake McDonald Lodge parking area. The shared trailhead also branches off to Snyder Lakes, Fish Lake, Comeau Pass, and Sperry Chalet.

We hiked this trail in October 2018, just after the Howe Ridge Fire wreaked havoc in the park. It was a weekend of perfect Fall weather. Temps were cool, wind was mild, and skies were clear. An early cold snap weeks earlier turned the trees so the colors were in-your-face vivid.

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At first we were in thick forest
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Rising off the forest floor (PC Rachel Payne)

The Sprague Fire of 2017 burned out much of the area surrounding the trail so there were sustained views along the way that were not available in the past. And there was something oddly beautiful about all that black char on the skeletal remains of trees towering around us. The new undergrowth was fresh and green and spoke of new beginnings.

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As we got higher and higher along the trail we began to appreciate the prominence of the mountains around us. Peaks in immediate sight were Stanton, Vaught, McPartland, Little Matterhorn, Edwards, and Gunsight. To the south we could see Lake McDonald in its entirety. And we saw from the southern base of Stanton the area of the 2018 Howe Ridge Fire and where it met up with the 2003 Robert Fire.

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From within the Sprague Fire we see the Howe Ridge Fire and Robert Fire

You will see quite a few people on this trail because of its popularity but it rarely feels “crowded” because the dauntingly steep grade tends to spread people out sparsely. We saw only a dozen people on the trail this day, but despite the difficulty they ranged in age from adolescent to geriatric. I hope I’m climbing 4,300′ a day when I’m in my 70’s!

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Can you see the lookout above?

Mid-to-Late October is a time of year when migratory eagles are passing through this area. We came across two volunteers from the Citizen Science Program who were doing annual raptor counts on one of the rocky outcroppings where the view into the Snyder Valley was prime for seeing birds. Sometimes the lookout is used as a base camp for the raptor count activities. Want to get involved in projects like this? Go here: GNP Citizen Science

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The Snyder Lakes and Sperry Chalet trails are ~2000 ft below
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Approaching the lookout. Mt. Brown visible in the trees to the right (PC Rachel Payne)

Of course the views from the lookout are fabulous! We took our time getting the photos we wanted, which certainly included panoramas. Then we had a quick bite. Lunch always tastes good on a mountain and this was no exception. And today our dessert included some Ibuprofen because we knew we would “kneed” it for the pounding our joints would take on the way down.

This is a fairly popular winter trail as well. I have snowshoed this trail before and I plan to ski it this year. Who knows, maybe I will even do a winter ascent of the Mount Brown summit!

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The fire came within 100 yards of the lookout !
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Starting off from Lake McDonald. The classic colored rocks

 

Advice from a Ranger

from GNP Facebook Page, author unknown

Advice From A Ranger (tr)

Remember to always wear your hat,

take a good honest look at your shoes,

they’ll be your friend for the next sixteen miles,

then repeat after me:

water is life, water is life, water is life,

take a drink even when you’re not thirsty,

and then look around you,

wherever you are,

you are no different,

than the alpine paintbrush or the grizzly bear,

than the aspen, or the mountain goat, Continue reading “Advice from a Ranger”

Making Memories Along the Highline

by Amy Grisak

Amy is a freelance author and photographer in Great Falls, MT

As each summer flits by, it’s more obvious that time is precious with our children. For many summers, my girlfriends and I ventured into Glacier for a grand “Moms’ Hike Out” exploring the trails and chalets as we recharged our mental batteries. This year, we included our kids as three of us brought our 11 year olds on an overnight trip to Granite Park Chalet.

Securing a room at the chalet is competitive reservations at its finest. There were four of us, including my son Samuel, on the computers at the appointed date in January ready to type as soon as the 8 a.m. hour hit. Although all of us submitted reservations, only two of us were given the dates we requested, but we had our spot! From then it was watching the copious snowfall and counting down the days until mid-July.

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Continue reading “Making Memories Along the Highline”

A Great Hike near Marias Pass

Calf Robe Mountain

A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him and leaving something of himself upon it. Sir Martin Conway

Calf Robe Mountain is part of the Continental Divide and is located on the Firebrand Pass trail which starts at the Lubec Lake Trailhead. Elevation at the peak is 7,920 ft and ranks 173 of 234 named peaks in the park. This is not a challenging hike/climb even though round trip mileage is around 10 miles and elevation gain is 2,800 ft. Most of the distance is covered on-trail versus off-trail.

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Near the trailhead along Hwy 2

Continue reading “A Great Hike near Marias Pass”

Piegan Mountain – Glacier National Park

August 21, 2018 by Joanna Adams   www.adventureadams.com

Right now, a lot of the park is under fire and what’s not seems to be covered in an oppressive blanket of smoke. I am so thankful we at least got one more hike in before the smoke came.

There are so many great peaks in Glacier. I picked this one out because it seemed like a good beginner peak without a lot of technical spots or intense climbing.

We started our trek early. . . I always do when going to Glacier. The swarms of people seem to start congregating early and with the crazy intense heat we’ve been having lately, it is great to get a head start.

By the time I got the trail head at Lunch Creek, I had already downed a full cup of coffee so felt quite ready to take on the journey. The climbers trail at Lunch Creek is super easy to find.

Continue reading “Piegan Mountain – Glacier National Park”