Glacier National Park – Ptarmigan Tunnel

Roundtrip Length: 10.7 mi
Elevation Gain: 2300 ft
Time Required: 4-6 hours
Forest Friends Found: 50 Longhorn sheeps

Just after crossing through the tunnel

Ptarmigan Wall in the distance

The hike to the Ptarmigan Tunnel is the only hike we did in Many Glacier. We actually got up early to do this one, and we managed to snag a long parking spot near the trailhead before things filled up. The beginning of the route is shared with one that leads to Iceberg Lake, so it gets popular later in the day with families looking for a waterside picnic.

I was excited for the opening stretch, as reports said that meadows on the slopes of Apikuni Mountain are a favorite hangout for bears in the mornings and evenings. Unfortunately, they must have taken the day off or been driven away by the smoke that was beginning to choke the valley. Total trip bear count: 0 so far. Maybe Canada will be more fruitful.

After a quick climb to the main trail, it’s very flat through alpine meadow and forest until you reach Ptarmigan Falls. At this point, I think you’re “halfway” there, but shortly after the falls the trail splits from the one going to Iceberg Lake and climbs rapidly.  This is the worst part of the hike, but power through and eventually the foliage will give way to spectacular views as you break through the tree line.

The tunnel is visible in this picture, but is very small and blends into the rock

The small lake at the bottom of Ptarmigan Wall is a great place to spot bighorn sheep and mountain goats. We were almost on top of them before we noticed how many there were!

The climb up from the lake is steep but thanks to the views of the valley and bighorn sheep dotting the entire Wall, it seems easier than the forest section. The sheep seemed altogether unperturbed by our ascent.


There are approximately 300 sheeps in this photo. Find them all!


 Edge your way past the weirdos who are eating lunch on the wrong side of the tunnel, and you’re there! Enjoy the view, and don’t be afraid the whack a few of the bolder squirrels with your poles to keep them from nicking your lunch. The view was ultimately a little disappointing due to the haze, but altogether a nice and not too strenuous day hike.

Try not to get stuck behind a caravan of horses on the way down turns out they poop a LOT.




Jackie’s Trail Tip:

Only you can prevent forest fires.

Brandon’s Trail Tip:

Instead of bear repellent, bring bear attractant.


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