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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Looking Glass Road MT 89 / 49-Kiowa Loop, MT

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45 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List MT > North Central
Rated
5
5 of 5 by 1
 
0
Statistics
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Distance One Way 30.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,075 feet
Interest Historic, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack TBD
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
45  2014-07-18 tibber
Author tibber
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 574
Photos 25,460
Trips 835 map ( 10,371 miles )
Age 63 Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Sep, Jul, Aug
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:44pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Not your average highway
by tibber

Likely In-Season!
You can start from Hwy 89 in St Mary or from Hwy 2 in East Glacier. You can make this a loop too. For example, from St Mary you can continue on Hwy 89 and head toward Browning, hang a left and head west on Hwy 2 to East Glacier. At East Glacier you go under the cement railroad bridge onto Hwy 49. (Highway 49 was once part of the alignment of US 2, prior to the construction of a highway bridge across Two Medicine Creek.)


For this description we start from St Mary on Hwy 89. You head south out of St Mary. The road winds up thru remnants of the 2006 Red Eagle Fire with a great view of Divide Mountain. As you get to the top of the hill, there are some pullouts if you want to stop and look back at the views over St Mary Lake toward Logan Pass. However, most folks will come back this same route so you can save it for the return.

At the top of the hill and in various areas there are some areas that you can pull out and get some wildflower pics in the small meadows. As you continue on the road you wind around to another area where there is a big meadow in front of you above the road that goes along a spur of Cut Bank Creek or the road that takes you to the TH at Cut Bank. Sometimes you get to see horses in the meadow . The views to the Rockies is also outstanding here.

It's about 19 miles on a narrow highway until you reach the Kiowa/MT49 junction. Hang a right here and your curvy adventure on the 11 mile Looking Glass Road will begin shortly. Much of the route is steep, narrow, and winding, and prone to landslides. Once you get up thru the trees and around a couple corners you will start encountering additional pullouts. They are narrow so keep that in mind when parking and pulling out of them. There are a few blind corners so one needs to really be diligent here when driving or walking around. Also the road takes a beating during winter and you will run into some short gravel areas and go over swells caused from the frost. The road has short sections of 8 feet or so that have dropped a few inches (or more) lower than the other parts of the road.

Eventually you top out on this part of the road and start heading down MT49. There are blind corners lined with aspens and The views of Lower Two Medicine Lake will come into view. There are once again a few pullouts. One where you can actually walk out a ways to get a better view toward Upper Two Medicine Lake and the mountains. You will come to a marked section where you can opt to take the 4 mile drive over to Two Medicine. This too is a worthy destination that will leave you at the upper edge of Two Medicine Lake looking at one of the most photographed scenes in Glacier National Park with Sinopah Mountain standing tall. This is a popular camping area as well and there is a store and restrooms. You can also take a boat ride and there are numerous hikes in the area as well.

Continuing on the 49 you will reach the over 100 year old Glacier Park Lodge. This is also a stop worth your time to go in and check out the tall logs used to hold the roof up as well as to walk thru the garden that is filled with blooming flowers. Across the way is the East Glacier Park Train Depot. From here it's a hop, skip and jump under the cement railroad bridge to Hwy 2 and East Glacier. If you're headed back to the park, here is a good place to fuel up a little cheaper. Oh and there are some good eateries and shopping places as well as a hostel.

On the way back, you will get even different views, especially once you top out and get a view of Cut Bank Ridge and the wide open rolling plains. They don't call this "Big Sky" country for nothing. After you've done this drive, you'll feel like you can handle whatever curves and bounces are thrown your way and will really appreciate the smoothness of the Going to the Sun Road.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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2014-09-25 tibber
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Looking Glass Road MT 89 / 49-Kiowa Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Traveling around the park to get from hike to hike is usually always pretty if not necessarily easy. One of the most scenic other than Going to the Sun Road is what I call the Kiowa Loop (you can make a loop out of this IE St Mary 89 onto Kiowa Loop, back on Hwy 2 to Browning and onto the 89 to St Mary or vis versa). On July 19, I would get my does of MT-49 albeit with so much wind I about got blown off the road while taking pictures.

    But first you have to start the drive on the 89 from St Mary. It was a blustery day but that doesn't always stop the camera from working so I got out a couple times to get some pictures as I had time to kill before my 12:30 hike in the Two Medicine area.

    The paintbrush were really putting a show on this summer :) so I found a nice set to photograph despite the cold. And then of course, there is the stop above the meadow that usually provides nice foreground for the mountains in back but NOT today as the smoke was so incredibly thick from the west coast fires. At least I could get some photos of the meadow and its flowers. It was still cold and very windy so it was hard to stay out too long.

    Next it was onto MT49 (Looking Glass Road); always an exciting drive to see what shape the road was in and the scenery. I think I only made one stop on the way up. This drive is great on the way back to make stops so no need to hit every pullout now. I got out of the car and it was calm but then the wind came with a fury just like it did at the meadow stop. I kept filming anyway : rambo : even though I was at the edge of the road. It was smoky too so the far visibility to the west was not that great. However, it was so green.

    I finally wound around to the Two Medicine Lake side where I always like to get a couple photos of the lake and the mountains. It was windy and now I could really smell the smoke. I continued on my way as I like to photograph and film the very long garden at Glacier Park Lodge; it didn't disappoint. Other than the light and smoke interfered with the clarity of the photos and video.

    Next it was on to East Glacier to get one of those Grizzly Rolls I had read about on glacierchat.com at the Gear and Bakery shop and to get fuel. Well I get the roll but forgot about the fuel as I was driving past the Lodge so I had to turn around to get fuel. And then on to Two Medicine for my hike. I wasn't sure if they would have the hike considering the weather but we did :DANCE: as it was in a somewhat secluded area.

    After the hike I headed back up Two Medicine Road to MT 49 and got treated to some amazing light :A1: on the Two Medicine mountains before tackling the rest of the drive. I don't know why I didn't stop at any of the pullouts on the way back other than I think I was hungry. The weather to the west looked tenuous for the rest of the drive onto 89 and back to St Mary all the way to Two Sisters this side of Babb.

    Day 3 at the park was an afternoon bust since I didn't get to do my Highline Trail hike but I did go into St Mary at the 89 to pick up some stuff from the store. I also took the time to photograph the hanging flower baskets, a usual staple for Glacier Park Inc properties but not Xanterra. The hanging baskets are always a favorite of my mom's so I got some pictures for her; even though she would never see them :( .

    Anyway, if you ever get the chance to drive these roads, you should. Other than the slower traffic and sometimes a lot of it; it's worth the time especially the MT-49 as it's a trip in and of itself. Here are some videos to accompany the trip log:
    Rising Sun to Two Medicine via the 89, 49 and 2 Medicine Rd: http://youtu.be/U2hNQQq4RJI
    Two Medicine to the Rising Sun via the same roads: http://youtu.be/UIhrmbBiCeY
    and if you like beautiful gardens - from Glacier Park Lodge: http://youtu.be/uhcJuMdzncI

    Permit $$
    None

    Glacier National Park
    $30 per car(week), $12 bike/foot(week), $50 annual View Current Entrance Fees


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To scenic drive
    From US Highway 2, get on the 89 toward St Mary outside of Browning or the MT 49 from East Glacier.
    Both of these areas can be reached from major cities Great Falls or Kalispell, Montana.
    page created by tibber on Sep 25 2014 2:32 pm
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