Contributed by Paul Krystof
Country: United States
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana
Round trip: 15 km
Start elevation: 1720 m
Final Elevation: 2512 m
Maps: Logan Pass, Rising Sun
The trail starts at Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
From St. Mary to Siyeh Bend is about 25 km. From Logan Pass to Siyeh Bend about 4.8 km.
PARTIAL PLANT LIST
This is one of the more popular hikes in Montana’s Glacier National Park, which along with Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park make up Glacier –Waterton International Peace Park.
The hike can be done as a loop or can be retraced back along the same route. The trail starts at the Siyeh Bend on the Road To The Sun and ascends along the east bank of the Siyeh Creek for a distance of about 100 m and then turns uphill through mature montane forest. After about 2.4 km the path divides. Take a left turn here and soon Thalictrum occidentale and Xerophyllum tenax make a good display along the route. At 4.8 km the trail forks again, the left going to Many Glaciers via Piegan Pass, and the right leads through a sparsely treed subalpine area with meadows rich with arnicas, asters, castillejas, erigerons, lupins, Erythronium grandiflorum, Hypericum formosum, Pulsatilla occidentalis and other flowers. When the Siyeh Creek is crossed next, the area is locally known as the Preston Park. It has numerous small bodies of water with shoreline vegetation of Gentiana calycosa, Aquilegia flavescens, Epilobium angustifolium and other plants that enjoy the extra moisture.
As the meadows give way to screes and rocky slopes the Preston Park ends. The path climbs the steep slope through a series of switchbacks and the plant species change. Here may be seen Epilobium latifolium, Erigeron compositus, Pedicularis contorta, Rhodiola integrifolia, Senecio fremontii, Smelowskia calycina, Stellaria americana, to name a few
As the Siyeh Pass is reached at about 2340 m, true alpine plants adorn the rocky slopes. The highlight for many plant enthusiasts is to find the deep blue flowers of Aquilegia jonesii. Other interesting plants in this area include Claytonia megarhiza, Draba sp., Erigeron grandiflorus, Erigeron lanatus, Polemonium viscosum, Potentilla nivea, Senecio conterminus. The trail continues to climb to reach the highest point at 2512 m.
The trail rounds the north east slope of Matahpi Peak, with Boulder Creek and its valley on the left, and drops to a col between two peaks. The persistent snow patches in this area may provide an opportunity to see some delayed flowers of the alpine gems past the main flowering season. The wet seepage on the west side of this pass hosts a population of Pedicularis groenlandica. Across the col is usually a great display of daisies and other sun loving plants, particularly Physaria didymocarpa.
This may be a turn around point for some as St.Mary Lake and the Sexton Glacier can be seen with other more distant views in abundance. The trail ahead begins to drop through the meadows to the Baring Creek valley towards the Sundrift Gorge and the Going-to-the-Sun Road.