One of the more underrated hikes in Glacier National Park, Scenic Point offers incredible views and the chance to escape the overbearing crowds you will likely find in other areas of the park. Because the hike is located in the less visited area of Two Medicine, the hike to Scenic Point sees fewer crowds than hikes in the more popular sections of the park, like St. Mary’s, West Glacier, and Many Glacier. With sweeping views of snowy peaks and alpine lakes, the hike to Scenic Point certainly lives up to its name! We highly recommend adding Scenic Point to your Glacier National Park itinerary, and in this article we’ll tell you exactly why!
- Scenic Point in Glacier National Park overview
- About Glacier National Park
- Highlights and lowlights
- How difficult is the Scenic Point hike?
- Scenic Point Glacier National Park details
- Scenic Point packing list
- Tips for a great hike
- When in the best time to hike to Scenic Point?
- Where to stay before hiking Scenic Point
Scenic Point in Glacier National Park
- Hiking distance | 7.4 miles
- Elevation gain | 2,350 feet
- Total time | 3 – 5 hours
- Epic-ness rating | 7
- Difficulty | Hard
Find this hike on AllTrails: Scenic Point
Scenic Point is located in the Two Medicine are of Glacier National Park, on the southeastern side of the park.
The stunning viewpoint is accessed via a challenging 7.4-mile out and back hike that climbs 2,350 feet to an elevation of just over 7,500 feet. Scenic Point offers sweeping views of Rising Wolf Mountain towering above Two Medicine Lake to the west, Dawson Pass to the north, and Mount Henry to the south.
Hiking to Scenic Point is also a great opportunity to see wildlife. We saw a huge herd of male bighorn sheep and a separate group of two females with a baby.
Fun Fact: Male bighorn sheep (a.k.a. rams) and female bighorn sheep (a.k.a ewes) do not travel together. They only meet to mate, and otherwise live in separate herds! Baby bighorn sheep stay with their mothers until they are old enough to join their own herd.
About Glacier National Park
Located in northern Montana, Glacier National Park is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful areas in the entire national park system due to its picturesque lakes, rocky mountain peaks, diverse species of wildlife, and stunning vistas.
Accordingly, in 2019, the park welcomed over 3 million visitors and annual visitation to the park continues to grow.
With several distinct sections, Glacier National Park spans over 1,500 square miles and contains approximately 700 lakes and more than 700 miles of hiking trails. The park is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, and the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48!
Fun Fact: Ironically, Glacier National Park does not have the highest concentration of glaciers in the contiguous United States. That award goes to North Cascades National Park in northern Washington, home to over 300 glaciers! Glacier has just 24 glaciers within its boundaries!
- Stunning panoramic views of the Two Medicine Area
- Good chance of seeing wildlife
- Offers more solitude than most trails in Glacier
- Located in a more remote area of Glacier, out of the way from more popular areas
- Steep hike, with trail getting narrow in some sections
How difficult is the Scenic Point hike?
The trail to Scenic Point is steep, gaining 2,350 feet over just over 3.5 miles, making this a difficult hike.
Additionally, parts of the trail are fairly exposed and may be unnerving for those with a fear of heights. There is a brief section that hugs the edge of a narrow ridge, with a sharp drop off down to the valley floor. For reference, I (Sarah) often have a fear of heights, and while I was a bit nervous in a few sections on this hike, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle!
Hike Details | Scenic Point Glacier National Park
In the section below, we’ll provide more details on the hike to Scenic Point to help you decide whether to add it to your Glacier National Park plans!
Scenic Point was our first ever hike in Glacier National Park, and was the perfect introduction to the park!
We ended up hiking to Scenic Point after our original backpacking plans fell through at the last minute. We were camping at Two Medicine Campground and asked the park rangers for recommendations on where to hike in the area. Despite the last minute change of plans, this hike exceeded our expectations!
Getting to the Scenic Point trailhead
The trailhead for the hike to Scenic Point is located just two minutes from the Two Medicine Campground and Two Medicine Lake. From West Glacier and Many Glacier, it’s about a 1.5 hour drive to the trailhead and from St. Mary it’s about an hour.
Parking for the trailhead is a gravel lot located directly off a paved road, making it easily-accessible for any vehicle. Parking at the trailhead is limited, although we did not have any trouble parking despite getting a later start around 10 am.
If the parking lot is full, you can park in a larger lot down by Two Medicine Lake and walk to the trailhead, adding about 1-mile roundtrip to the hike.
Starting the hike
Once you’ve packed up your gear, find the trailhead on east side of the parking lot. The trail to Scenic Point starts off with a mild incline through a pine forest.
Be Bear Aware! This is grizzly territory, and the trail to Scenic Point winds through brush and thick pine forests. Hike in groups and make lots of noise as you go – clacking hiking poles, raising your voice, etc. – to avoid sneaking up on a bear. It may sound silly, but it’s better than coming face to face with a grizzly!
Half a mile into the hike, you will come upon a spur trail that leads to Appistoki Falls. While the falls aren’t overly impressive, the short detour doesn’t add much distance to your hike, so it’s worth checking them out.
Climbing the switchbacks
After passing Appikstoki Falls, you will reach the first set of switchbacks and begin climbing above the tree line. The trail gets continually steeper and the views of the surrounding peaks start to open up. Eventually, you are treated to a bird’s eye view of Two Medicine Lake and Rising Wolf Mountain.
The trail climbs for 3 miles before leveling off as you reach a ridge and the trail turns east. Continue along the flat trail that leads along a narrow ledge with a steep drop-off to the left for about half a mile.
At 3.5 miles into the hike, you will reach an intersection. Turn left and continue another quarter mile until you reach Scenic Point!
The return hike
Once you’ve enjoyed the panoramic views from Scenic Point, turn back the way you came to return to the trailhead.
Logistics | Planning your Scenic Point Hike in Glacier National Park
In this section, we’ll help you plan all the details for your hike to Scenic Point, including the best time to hike, where to stay, and a few essentials to make sure you pack.
Scenic Point Packing List
Before you begin your Scenic Point hike, make sure you are prepared with the following essentials:
- Water, snacks and lunch | We usually pack Cheese-its, Clif Bars, 3 liters of water and PB&J’s for lunch on longer day hikes!
- Bear Spray (Counter Assault)| Glacier National Park is home to the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48! Be sure to carry a can of bear spray in an accessible location (odds are you won’t need it, but in case you do, you want it to be easy to grab).
- Hiking boots (Hers: Danner Mountain 600s, His: Salomon Ultra 4 Mid GTX) | The trail to Scenic Point is steep with loose gravel, so hiking boots with good traction will be very helpful.
- Hiking poles (Hers: Black Diamond Distance Z poles, His: Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles ) | Again the hike is steep, so we’d recommend trekking poles to help with stability and take pressure off your knees going downhill.
- Microspikes | If hiking earlier in the summer, the trail may be icy which can be dangerous on the steep, exposed sections.
- Rain jacket or windbreaker | The summit is very windy. Bring a rain jacket or windbreaker to cut the wind and keep you warm once you stop moving.
- Pullovers (Hers: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip, His: Smartwool Merino Quarter Zip) | Mornings in Glacier are typically chilly, even during the summer! Plus, the summit is very windy, so you will want to be prepared with extra layers.
- Headlamp | Always good to have on a long hike in case you finish hiking later than expected. We both use the Black Diamond Storm 400.
- Camera (Canon M100)| Scenic Point is just that: scenic! You’ll want to have a camera with you to capture the beauty of this spot. The Canon M100 was my first “real” camera and its compact size makes it great for hiking, while still taking great quality photos.
- Down Jacket (Hers: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Down Hoodie, His: Cotopaxi Fuego Men’s)| Be prepared for chilly mornings in Glacier and colder weather at the Scenic Point summit.
Tips for a great hike
- Don’t forget to pack bear spray and make noise as you hike! I typically love hiking alone, but would avoid doing so in Glacier.
- During busy summer days, entrance to the Two Medicine area may be temporarily shut down for crowd control. We’d recommend arriving early to ensure you don’t have to wait to get to the trailhead.
- Two Medicine campground is a really convenient place to stay before/after hiking to Scenic Point, especially given the area is more remote.
- Be sure to stop by Two Medicine Lake for an up-close view after your hike! It’s especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
- For snacks, lunch and fuel, you can stop in East Glacier Village, located just outside the park about 25 minutes from the trailhead.
- It’s not uncommon for thunderstorms to roll in during the afternoon in Glacier, and you do NOT want to be up on Scenic Point in the event of a storm, as it is very rocky and exposed. Keep an eye on the weather, and turn back if the skies start to look dark.
- There is no cell service in Two Medicine. The trailhead is marked and fairly easy to find once you are on Two Medicine Road, but if you plan to use GPS on your phone be sure to pull up directions in advance.
When is the best time of year to hike Scenic Point?
Like most roads in Glacier National Park, the road into Two Medicine and the Scenic Point trailhead is typically closed from late October through early May due to snow cover.
The best time to hike to Scenic Point in Glacier National Park is mid-June through mid-September. In early summer, snow and ice cover on the trail are still possible, which can make the hike dangerous.
Peak hiking season in Glacier starts surprisingly late in the summer, so if you plan to do other popular hikes, like the Highline Trail or Grinnell Glacier, we wouldn’t recommend planning your trip for before July.
In fact, the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road that bisects Glacier National Park typically doesn’t open completely until early July due to snow.
Where to stay before hiking Scenic Point
The most convenient place to stay for this hike is either Two Medicine Campground or the nearby East Glacier Park Village.
Two Medicine campground
Two Medicine Campground is located just two minutes from the Scenic Point trailhead, and offers 100 first-come-first-served campsites that are typically open from May 31st through October 31st.
The campground sits on the shores of Pray Lake, with beautiful campsites nestled among the pines trees. Hanging out by the lake near our campsite after busy days hiking and exploring the park was a highlight of our time in Glacier!
If you plan to aim for a first-come-first-served spot, be aware that spots fill up quickly, as with all campgrounds in Glacier. You can check historic fill times for Two Medicine Campground in advance of your trip to get a sense of how early you will need to arrive to get a spot.
Tip | First-come-first-served campgrounds in Glacier are in high demand and tough to get! It may be slightly easier to get spots at Two Medicine Campground compared to campgrounds in St. Mary or West Glacier, due to its more remote location. We still recommend arriving as early as possible!
East Glacier Park Village
If you prefer not to camp, East Glacier Park Village is the best place to stay before or after hiking Scenic Point, located about 25 minutes from the Scenic Point trailhead. This tiny town of only 388 residents offers a few lodging, hostel, hotel and cabins options.
Other campgrounds in Glacier
If you want to camp and aren’t able to get a spot at Two Medicine Campground, there are a total of 13 campgrounds in Glacier National Park. That being said, because the park is so huge, some of the campgrounds are more than 2 hours away from the Scenic Point trailhead.
Your best alternatives to Two Medicine Campground are either St. Mary Campground, located about 1 hour 15 minutes from the Scenic Point Trailhead, or Rising Sun Campground, located about 1 hour 30 minutes away.
During peak season (late May through mid August), reservations are required for St. Mary Campground. Rising Sun Campground sites are first-come-first-served only.
Other useful resources
Planning a trip to Glacier? For more to do in Glacier, or nearby in Wyoming and Idaho, check out the resources below!
- Glacier | Complete Guide to Hiking Cracker Lake Trail
- Grand Teton | 18 Best Hikes in Grand Tetons National Park
- Grand Teton | The Perfect 2 Day Grand Teton Itinerary
- Idaho | Backpacking the Alice Toxaway Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains
- Idaho | Sawtooth Lake in Idaho: Ultimate Trail Guide
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Have you been to Glacier National Park yet? Questions about the Scenic Point hike? Let us know in the comments below!