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Red Crow Mountain, MT| July, 2017

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5.9 miles, +3,100 ft, -300 ft

Mostly on-trail, Some Off-Trail

The trailhead (Glacier National Park – Lubec Lake / Firebrand Pass Trailhead) is easy to get to, but also easy to miss.  The trailhead parking is on a short (500-foot) loop turnoff from Highway-2 that is squeezed between the highway and the railroad tracks.  The trailhead is 6.25 miles from the main intersection in East Glacier, and 8.6 miles from the John F. Stevens monument at the summit of Marias Pass.


On foot, cross the railroad tracks and begin hiking on the well signed and well maintained trail for 1.5 miles to its intersection with the Autumn Creek Trail.  Turn right and follow the Autumn Creek Trail for about 1-mile to its junction with the Firebrand Pass trail.  Turn left and follow this trail to the pass.  There is a likelihood of early season snow drifts (through mid-July?), including a large snowdrift that may cover the trail on the east side of the pass.  If the drift is present, its problematic nature will become evident as soon as you enter the upper basin immediately beneath the pass.  In this case, watch for a well defined, unmarked trail that continues straight as the main trail cuts left and begins gaining elevation.  The unmarked trail will take an easy path to the pass that bypasses the snowdrift on the right (north).  Microspikes or other traction devices may be advisable if hiking before early July, but they were not necessary when we climbed in late mid July.


From Firebrand Pass, continue off-trail north along the ridge crest to the summit of Red Crow Mountain.  Most of the ridge is easy walking, except the first part is a bit steep, and there is also a cliffy area that can be bypassed through a talus chute on the left, or at the base of the cliffs on the right.  We went up on the west and came down on the right (east) & found the path on the right (east) to be nicer.


A dawn start is nice, as the ponds and eastern front can be spectacular in the morning (mist, alpenglow, etc.), and it gets you out of the hot low country while it is still cool.  The mid-part of the trail is through the forest and is not as scenic – but scenery along the path up to the pass and onwards to the summit is spectacular with great views of the plains, and eventually the spectacular scenery of the Glacier Park summits.  The trail and summit are uncrowded by Glacier NP standards – we ran into one other party on the summit as we were finishing our activation.  This is Grizzly Bear country – so it is advisable that hikers carry bear spray.  The climb is described with great detail and photos within Volume-2 of Blake Passmore’s excellent “Climb Glacier National Park” series.