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Glacier Divide Route

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.

7 Responses to Glacier Divide Route

  1. John 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 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 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 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.

  3. Doug Walsh 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 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 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.

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