Video: Backpacking Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail

By Michael Lanza

On a cool August morning under clear Rocky Mountains skies, we hiked steadily uphill toward Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park. Cliffs rose steeply up to a small glacier on our left, and dropped off precipitously on our right a thousand feet down to the clear, emerald waters of Gunsight Lake. Shortly before reaching the 6,900-foot pass, we ran into the sort of wild obstruction that occurs with some regularity in this park: a mountain goat in the trail.

The young goat, as white as fresh snow, with sharp, straight horns and coal-black eyes, stood in our path, occasionally lifting its head from nibbling on plants to return the quizzical gazes from my kids, then age nine and seven. We waited.

When the goat finally relinquished the trail, scrambling nimbly down the cliff below us, we peered over the brink to see where it went. Alex, my seven-year-old daughter, muttered in awe, “I can’t believe it went down there.”

We were on a three-day family backpacking trip on the Gunsight Pass Trail in Montana’s Glacier National Park. One of the logistically easiest and shortest multi-day hikes in the park, the 20-mile traverse from Gunsight Pass Trailhead to Lake McDonald Lodge—both of which are on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and served by the park’s free shuttle bus—takes in some of Glacier’s most spectacular scenery, including views of one of its largest rivers of ice (all of which are steadily shrinking), scores of waterfalls, and a backcountry campsite at Lake Ellen Wilson that is one of the prettiest in the park.

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Watch the video below from that trip, and then see my full story about that family trip, “Jagged Peaks, Mountain Lakes, and Wild Goats: A 3-Day Hike on Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail,” with photos and trip-planning information. And see a menu of all of my stories about Glacier National Park.

See also my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit” and all of my stories about national park adventures at The Big Outside.

Get the right gear for your next trip. See all of my reviews of backpacks and backpacking tents, and a categorized menu of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

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2 thoughts on “Video: Backpacking Glacier’s Gunsight Pass Trail”

  1. This trip has been at the top of my Glacier must-do list for a few years now, it’s great to get a video preview of it! What a cool experience to come across the goat like that.