Glacier National Park Hikes – Ptarmigan Lake and Tunnel

While everyone knows that the Garden Wall is Glacier National Park’s best hike, second to that is Ptarmigan Lake and Tunnel.

If you have the time and the fortitude to explore this area of Many Glacier, you will be rewarded with a hike so spectacular and astounding that you will talk about it for years.

Why is Ptarmigan Tunnel one of my favorite Glacier National Park hikes? Probably the first reason is my memories of the fishing there.

Ptarmigan is a perfect “bell” shaped lake, with clapper! Back in the ’60s it was teeming with Native Brook Trout and I limited out every single time With fish averaging 9-10″, it was well worth the 11 mile hike in.

On one overnight camping trip there (1962), my cousin and I had to throw rocks to break up the ice that formed overnight; and this was the 4th of July.

Of course no hike there would have been complete without going up the “Z” shaped switchback trail to the tunnel that was cut through the Ptamigan Wall, revealing the magnificent Belly River Valley on the other side.

This tunnel was carved out by the CCC workers in the 1930’s, enabling hikers to pack into the Lake Elizabeth drainage, with it’s grayling and Rainbow trout.

I cherish the memories of this place so strongly that it is my screen saver.

When I last visited Glacier National Park in ’06, we were hoping to make this hike, but since it was so foggy with a heavy mixture of rain and snow, we just went to Iceberg Lake.

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Feb 06, 2011




by: Kris

We hiked it from Many Glacier. It was hot that day and not a cloud in the sky. A big difference from the day before when we hiked to iceberg lake in the rain. On that hike, the temperature dropped enough that you could see your breath.
We just hiked there and back. We haven’t done any over-night hikes yet. We keep talking about doing one, but we need to get all the equipment first.

Feb 06, 2011



Hi Kris – Great Hike, right?

by: Perry

Hi Kris,
How did you hike Ptarmigan? From Many Glacier or did you start up north?

Did you camp down at Elizabeth Lake?

Boy, do I love that hike!

Would you be willing to share your favorite Glacier National Park hike?


~ Perry

Feb 03, 2011




by: Kris PWe hiked to the tunnel in Aug 2010. It was a beautiful sunny day. The views were spectacular from both sides of the tunnel. On the way back down, we saw some big horn sheep on the switchback part of the trail.

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