GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL
Glacier National Park, Montana
YOU’VE HEARD THAT this park’s 23 namesake features are disappearing, but maybe thought you had plenty of time to see them. Bad news: Revisions to air temperature modeling indicate the zeroice date may be in 2020. In this case, there is literally no time to waste to see the land and its architect in the same viewshed.
One of the first to go might be Grinnell Glacier, which has lost 40 percent of its original might in the last half-century. Steady melting keeps the ice retreating higher into the cirque that cradles it, while calving expedites the process (like in 2015, when a 10-acre chunk broke off into Upper Grinnell Lake). Admire Grinnell’s 110-acre remains by following its eponymous trail 5.5 miles to Upper Grinnell Lake, where the glacier’s crumbling toe adds to the startlingly blue water every year. Scan the steep-walled cliffs surrounding the lake to see two more glaciers: Gem to the south and Salamander, which once touched Grinnell, 700 feet above it. Look for mountain goats on the cliffs, glimpse alpine wildflowers that thrive in snowmelt, and listen for the squeak of marmots on the rocky moraine—all of these cold-loving species will struggle and decline without the park’s rivers of ice.
TRAILHEAD Grinnell Glacier (48.7971, -113.6684) SEASON
July to October PERMIT
None CONTACT nps.gov/glac