For a sunny day version of this trip, click here.
The trip up and over Swiftcurrent Pass from Granite Park Chalet to the Swiftcurrent Inn in the Many Glacier valley (with a side trip up to the Swiftcurrent Lookout) is rich with views and wildlife. Unfortunately for this trip, I experienced limited views and limited wildlife, but have every intention of getting to it in 2012 to finish things up.
The climb up from Granite Park Chalet to Swiftcurrent Pass is a shade over 500 feet with the majority of the work on the long downhill to the Many Glacier floor. Near the pass, the spur trail for Swiftcurrent Lookout takes off in a million switchbacks to one of the best views in Glacier National Park. (or so I have been told) If you desire the top of the world feeling, you can scratch that itch here.
Back down from the lookout and heading down from the pass, there is an outcropping known as “Devil’s Elbow” that can give you the willies if you’re not one for heights. It’s a sharp turn with a lot of exposure and I’d not want to take a horse or mule around it, but it’s fun to walk and gives you an epic view of the chain of lakes in the Swiftcurrent valley. After the hairpin turn, you continue to hug the cliffs where I encountered three bighorn sheep. From here the trail traverses until you come upon a cascading waterfall that seems to go on forever. The trail switchbacks and starts to come down to grasses, then shrubs and then alders and the like down by the lakes.
The first lake you’ll come to is Bullhead Lake. It is split into two pools, but they are one lake. In this whole valley bottom, keep your eyes peeled for both bear and moose as they frequent the area. From there you’ll head on down Swiftcurrent creek. Right before you get to the head of Redrock Lake, is a popular falls called Redrock Falls which cascades and dumps through a few pools.
From that point on, you’ll pass Redrock Lake and then Fishercap Lake. Both of these lakes are pretty lakes surrounded by amazing peaks and rock formations. The views to these lakes will go in and out as the alders and other brush duck in and out and eventually turn into aspen and then pine forests. At that point, you’ll finish walking a well worn and popular trail that will dump you to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.