Glacier Divide Route

July 2016 || A 125-mile high route through Glacier National Park, paralleling the Continental Divide, usually off-trail. Currently a work-in-progress.

Almost-a-Dog Pass, looking south over the Red Eagle Bench and towards the Norris Traverse.

Almost-a-Dog Pass, looking south over the Red Eagle Bench and towards the Norris Traverse.

The Glacier Divide Route parallels the Continental Divide through Glacier National Park for about 125 miles, usually off-trail. The heart of the route is between Brown Pass in the north and Firebrand Pass (or possibly Little Dog Mountain) in the south. The most logical access points for a thru-hike are Waterton Lakes and either Marias Pass or East Glacier, Montana.

The roots of the Glacier Divide Route start with J. Gordon Edwards, who described a Continental Divide Route — often in such vague terms as to be non-actionable — in his definitive Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park. The entire route has been completed before, at least in segments; I can’t find record of a thru-hike, but it’s likely been done.

For me this is an unfinished project. Dave Chenault and I attempted the route in July 2016, but for various reasons only finished about three-fourths of the route before exiting. It’s a legit route and I expect to return next summer to finish it up.

Basic Info

Writings, Photos & Videos


  1. John on June 27, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Is that much off trail travel even legal? I figured a park with such high traffic would frown on that. I did notice that they have a lot of mileage restrictions for daily travel when booking some of the primitive sites.

    • Andrew Skurka on June 27, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      No, not illegal or discouraged, so long as the rangers feel that you can do it without violating park principals (e.g. preservation of the land as you found it) and without endangering yourself.

  2. Kevin on January 5, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Did you ever make the return trip? Or is that going to be sometime in the next couple years?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 8, 2018 at 8:37 am

      Have not managed to get back up there, sadly. It’s a big effort, and last summer I was fully committed to ultra training.

      • Jordan Foy on January 26, 2021 at 1:39 pm

        still haven’t had the chance to finish this route?

        • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2021 at 2:11 pm

          Sadly, no. Haven’t been back to Glacier since this trip. Haven’t been doing nothing, but haven’t done this.

  3. Doug Walsh on February 15, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Did you do the Nervous Traverse? How was it? Is the exposure overblown? Is it doable for folks with some experience with exposure? I’ve mapped out the whole route, and have been wanting to have a go at this with my CDT buddy for a couple of years now. Seems like a great route, but wondering about that Nervous Traverse.

    • Andrew Skurka on February 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Our route did not follow the Nervous Traverse. Instead, it remains on the Highline below. We didn’t even consider it — the Nervous Traverse has technical features that are beyond what should be expected of a backpacking route.

  4. chuck the mauler on April 2, 2018 at 10:50 am

    You could pick the brain of Joey Coconato. He’s explored every corner of that park and does some amazing videos.

  5. Sam Carroll on February 19, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Any updates?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Sadly have not gotten back up there since 2016.

  6. Tom Hollo on March 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    After asking your thoughts re snowpack last year, I did the Norris Traverse with my brother over two days. It was one of the better hikes I have done. If you ever do get the chance to return to Glacier and are looking for a hiking partner, I live nearby and would be happy to join you.

  7. Ved B on May 12, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Where did you start your hike from?

    • Andrew Skurka on May 12, 2020 at 9:13 am

      We started from kintla, but I think logistically the better option is to start on the east side.

  8. Dan S on August 21, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    I would be stoked if you finished this.
    The CDT options are great in Glacier NP, but I got that little taste and have wanted to roam some high terrain there ever since.

    • Tyler Antis on November 30, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Around what time of year do you think this route really opens up? Are there any parts that might be reasonable for someone to tag on an early season southbound thru of the cdt? Assuming the snow level is average?

      • Andrew Skurka on December 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

        The CDT is already a challenge in early-season after an average winter, and this route holds its snow for even longer, so I’d generally say “no” for the route as a whole. There might be a few sections that are entirely reasonable, but they could be blocked or bookended by sections that aren’t, and you may have to deviate quite a bit to get on them.

  9. Brandon on May 29, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Doug! The nervous traverse is nothing like described in J Gordons climbing guide to glacier. I have no idea where he came up with the description in the guide book. I have done it twice and it is class 2 terrain with exposure and is an amazing section of Glacier Park. If you have any questions let me know.

    • Doug Walsh on May 30, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Thanks for the info Brandon. Appreciate it!

    • Doug Walsh on May 30, 2023 at 1:49 pm

      Is the class 2 route obvious and easy to find? Anything specific that is important for me to know?

    • Jessica on July 21, 2023 at 9:43 am

      Hey Brandon! I’m also curious about the traverse! Planning a Belly – Sue Bench – Chaney Basin – Pyramid – Ipasha – Ahern trip end of August. The description in Edwards about the sections from Ipasha to Chaney had me balking. I’d love any info you have on it! My email is [email protected] or Instagram is jess.does.things. I’d appreciate it! Cheers – Jess

      • Doug Walsh on July 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

        Hi Jessica. Please post any info you get to this forum, or share with me at [email protected]. I’ll do the same for you. Thanks much.

  10. Chuck The Mauler on May 31, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    Check with Joey Coconato. Knows the park like no other. Might be easiest to find him on YouTube, My Own Frontier.
    All the best to you.

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