THE BIG DI­VIDE

FIVE PASS-RED EA­GLE LOOP GLACIER NA­TIONAL PARK, MT

Backpacker - - The Mountain Issue -

WHEN RAIN OR SNOW falls on Triple Di­vide Peak, it ul­ti­mately ends up in one of three very dif­fer­ent places: the Pa­cific, At­lantic, or Arc­tic Oceans. The 8,020-foot peak sits at the junc­tion of the Con­ti­nen­tal and Lau­ren­tian Di­vides—one of the only spots on Earth where three oceanic drainages meet. Hike through all three wa­ter­sheds— and sa­vor eye­fuls of the near-per­fect pyra­mid-shaped peak—when you cir­cle it on a four-day, 44-mile loop.

From the Cut Bank trail­head, fol­low the Cut Bank Pass and Triple Di­vide Trails along At­lantic Creek (which drains into the Mis­souri River and even­tu­ally the At­lantic Ocean). Camp be­side the creek near mile 4.3 to gear up for a big day two: Crest the 7,397-foot pass, sa­vor­ing vis­tas down to jade Medicine Griz­zly Lake and across the spine of Ra­zoredge Moun­tain, be­fore con­tin­u­ing across Hud­son Bay Creek (which even­tu­ally emp­ties into Hud­son Bay and the Arc­tic Ocean). Camp at the south end of Red Ea­gle Lake with a view of Split Moun­tain’s dis­tinct tur­ret at mile 14.2. The next morn­ing, back­track 1.2 miles and bush­whack up Red Ea­gle Creek, keep­ing your eyes open for an aban­doned trail at the end of the val­ley. (Note: Al­ways travel in groups and prac­tice bear safety; this is griz coun­try.) Make sure it isn’t a game trail, then fol­low the snaking path over 6,400-foot Red Ea­gle Pass to the Ny­ack Creek Trail at mile 26. From there, it’s just over 2 miles east to the Up­per Ny­ack Camp­ground, tucked at the bot­tom of a long, wooded val­ley. The fi­nal day, cross Pa­cific Creek (which ends up in the Flat­head River and Pa­cific Ocean) and climb Cut Bank Pass be­fore de­scend­ing back to your car.

Trail­head Cut Bank Sea­son June to Septem­ber Per­mit Re­quired ($7/per­son per night); ob­tain at the St. Mary Vis­i­tor Cen­ter. Climb Triple Di­vide Peak Triple Di­vide Trail (class 2); 2,400 feet in 7.4 miles from Cut Bank trail­head Con­tact nps.gov/glac

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