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Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls TR
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mini location map2019-07-06
57 by photographer avatartibber
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Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls TRNorth Central, MT
North Central, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 06 2019
tibber
Hiking5.12 Miles 1,212 AEG
Hiking5.12 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   1.64 mph
1,212 ft AEG      23 Mns Break
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Another trip to Montana :y: started with a 6:30AM Allegiant Flight to Gt Falls where I met my cousin who let me use her car (Tucson with turbo) for my Glacier Park trip which saved me a bundle. I picked up some stove fuel and then after having lunch headed out for Glacier Park. The weather was a bit tenuous as I headed down the freeway (80MPH posted) until the Highway 44 cut across to Highway 89 (70MPH posted). It was so green everywhere as they had a wet spring and a wet summer so far. The only thing about the cloud cover is you couldn't even get to see the top of the Rockies. The wildflowers were out in force on the prairie; don't know that I've ever seen so many. Needless to say, I had to pull over a couple times and get some photos thus it took me a little longer to get to the Park.

I met up with Tina from Calgary who I knew through glacierchat.com and we had dinner at the Swiss Lounge in Many Glacier. I started out with a Huckleberry Smash and from there, let the good times roll. The next morning we met up with Pete, another glacierchatter (their Chumley) at the Rising Sun Two Dog Flats Restaurant for breakfast. He had driven in from Whitefish (5AM) and left his vehicle at St Mary Falls Shuttle stop and hitched to the restaurant. We drove to Sun Point which I hadn't been to since it had been renovated. I also hadn't hiked in this area since the 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire which pretty much burned the whole area we would be hiking today.


So we geared up and headed on down the trail. The views are definitely more expansive since the fire with the naked trees. The bark of many of the trees was now black and white in many cases so that was interesting to see. Of course this hike takes you right along the lake with great views to the surrounding mountains. The lake was very smooth so far today thus creating some pretty reflections. The wildflowers were also out in force and perhaps a little different now that there wasn't any shade. Thus I created a new Flora Family, "Scrawny" as some of them seemed thin and not very full. Not too far into the hike some hikers said they saw a fox. We could see movement down by the lake but didn't actually see the fox.

Soon you are at the first of three falls, Baring. The Baring Cabin burned in the fire altho I had never seen the cabin so it must have been off trail somewhere. It is a pretty little falls and was flowing fast. We didn't linger long before heading further down the trail.

As we were rounding a corner, Pete had talked about a marmot that hangs out down here and true to life, it was there today. With the beautiful backdrop and lighting, it made for some very nice photographs :) . A little later we would see a bluebird and an Eagle. The eagle had its eye on St Mary Lake so maybe looking for a late breakfast. The trail is in very nice shape as always and this hike is really a different experience with the lack of shade. They chopped down quite a few trees after the fire.

As we get closer to St Mary Falls the hiker traffic picks up but it doesn't deter from the beauty of the area and especially the beauty of the falls with that aqua blue water. It was fast flowing from all angles and thundering pretty good. We went up top as I always like the view of the St Mary River as it comes into the falls. The burn area is evident up here as well.

Next we hiked our way toward lower Virginia Falls. This one area we hiked by no longer has the succulents or fungi plants since the trees burned and there isn't any shade provided. The mist from the falls still keeps the area moist but the sun exposure was just too much I guess. The weather today was still cloudy and acted like it wanted to rain but it never did. However, the trail was muddy in spots. This would be the case for my entire hiking in Glacier. We crossed over a fairly new bridge for our view below Virginia Falls as it was coming down hard and fast and unless you needed a shower, you didn't want to get at the foot of the falls. Fortunately you can still get a pretty good picture from here.

As we hiked back we encountered more people and more flowers had woke up so that was nice; the most False Solomon's Seal I've ever seen. Once back at St Mary Falls, the crowds had gotten larger of course as the ranger-guided boat tour had arrived. One family's kids were down on the lower rocks where it was really slippery and very close to the water. Pete mentioned it to the ranger and the parents eventually got the young kids to come up but without supervision and one of the little ones slipped a little but didn't go down, thankfully. The number one killer in Glacier is from falling into the water.

As we headed back the sun started to come out so the humidity picked up. But it made for a different view. The ranger eventually caught up with us and we asked a few questions that we had about some of the flora. This was her second year here and she was from NY. I noticed a lot of female rangers this year. We parted ways with Pete at the St Mary Falls Shuttle stop, had lunch at World Famous Johnson's, had huckleberry everything :D at Two Sisters and headed to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn cabin to prepare for our 5-nite backpack into the Belly River the next day.


[ youtube video ] Drive via Gt Falls, Browning, Duck Lake to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn at Many Glacier
Hike:
Part 1 Sunpoint to Baring Falls [ youtube video ]
Part 2 to St Mary Falls starring John9L's favorite animal [ youtube video ]
Part 3 St Mary River/Falls to Virginia Falls [ youtube video ]
Part 4 Virginia Falls area back to St Mary Falls Shuttle stop, Johnsons and Many Glacier [ youtube video ]
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Saint Mary Falls Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Virginia Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Virginia Falls Heavy flow Heavy flow
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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tibber's
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