Glacier National Park: Belly River Drainage

In All, Camping and Backpacking, Glacier National Park, Hiking, Montana by DylanLeave a Comment

Water cascades down from Margarite Lake in the early morning light.

Water cascades down from Margarite Lake in the early morning light. (Click image to buy print)

I say this each and every time I go to Glacier National Park, “I love this place!” This past trip I took my parents Ricki and Sandy into the Belly River Drainage. We had four days to get in as far as possible, so we put on our trekking boots and went to work. The trail head for the drainage starts at the US/Canada boarder and heads southwest. From there we began our first leg, 10 miles, to Glenns Lake. The initial part of the trail drops 700 feet down to the river bottom. From there, the vistas open up, providing views of Gable Mountain, Chief Mountain, Cosley Ridge and Bear Mountain.

 

One of the first view from the car, dropping into the Belly River drainage.

One of the first views from the car, dropping into the Belly River drainage.

 

Sandy crossing the Belly River.

Sandy the way crossing the Belly River.

Before no time, we reached the Belly River suspension bridge that took us along the Cosley Lake Cutoff. At this point, the foliage had become very lush, with Bear’s Grass growing in thick stands around every turn of the trail. There were also several bushes of wild raspberries in bloom.

We made camp well before dark, so my dad and I decided to start fishing. Glenns Lake is huge, extending well over two miles and averaging a little under a quarter mile wide. After several attempts of wading into the shallows and casting into the deep blue water, we traveled back down the trail to where we thought we could reach the outflow. We were right!

I caught a Whitefish and he caught two Lake Trout. Not much later a storm rolled over Pyramid Peak and threatened to rain, so we called it a night.

 

Bear's Grass

Bear’s Grass was in full bloom.

Lake Trout

Ricki holds up a Lake Trout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pyramid Peak with a passing storm is reflected in the outflow of Glenns Lake, Glacier National Park.

Pyramid Peak with a passing storm is reflected in the outflow of Glenns Lake, Glacier National Park. (Click image to buy print)

**Editor’s note** Keep all clothing inside your tent. I had to chase after a deer that had stolen my swim trunks at 4 a.m.

The next day was short. 4.1 miles to be exact. We paralleled the remainder of Glenns Lake, turned left at Mokowanis Junction and found camp empty shortly past noon at Mokowanis Lake. After a quick lunch we headed up to Margaret Lake.

Margaret Lake sits in a basin that is surrounded 270 degrees by thousand foot cliffs. The water itself is freezing cold because it is fed by Chaney and Ipasha Glacier. When we were up there they were still covered in that season’s snow. The rich blue was hidden.

 

Ricki taking a break next to a waterfall.

Ricki takes a break next to a waterfall.

 

Sandy and Ricki taking a break after climbing up to Margarite Lake.

Sandy and Ricki enjoy the view near Margaret Lake.

 

The outflow of Margarite Lake is absolutely stunning.

The outflow of Margarite Lake is absolutely stunning. (Click image to buy print)

 

Wildflowers were in full bloom.

Wildflowers were in full bloom. (Click image to buy print)

On the way back to camp we followed the outflow of Margaret Lake to where it cascades down to the valley floor.

By the time we got back to camp, the sun was going down, illuminating the mountains. My dad and I decided to try our luck at fishing Margaret Lake. My dad caught two old Brook Trout and I was skunked.

 

Mokowanis Lake

The setting sun illuminates the peaks behind Mokowanis Lake. (Click image to buy print)

 

Ricki holds up a Brook Trout.

Ricki holds up a Brook Trout.

 

Shadows create a gorgeous contrast on Mount Merritt.

Shadows create a gorgeous contrast on Mount Merritt. (Click image to buy print)

The night waned down and in the morning we were greeted by a lone White Tail. While my parents made breakfast, I booked it back up to the waterfall below Margaret Lake, hoping to catch the early morning light.

We headed back down the trail, past the Junction, past our first night’s camp and stopped at Cosley Lake for our last night. Each campsite has it’s own little trail, down to the pebble beach. And the view, oh the view. There are no words to describe it!! This is by far one of the most spectacular camp sites I have ever been to!! Priceless!!

 

Water cascades down from Margarite Lake in the early morning light.

Water cascades down from Margarite Lake in the early morning light. (Click on image to buy print)

 

Early light illuminate Stoney Indian Peaks

Early light illuminate Stoney Indian Peaks. (Click on image to buy print)

 

Cosley Lake reflects Pyramid Peak, center.

Cosley Lake reflects Pyramid Peak, center. This is our view from our final camp. (Click image to buy print)

 

Heading home -- It's hard to say good bye, but there's always next time!

Heading home — It’s hard to say good bye, but there’s always next time!