Autumn Creek Trail
Autumn Creek Trail, Glacier National Park
Autumn Creek Trail
Trailhead: Autumn Creek Trailhead on U.S. Highway 2, or Glacier Park Lodge.
Distance: 17.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 346 vertical feet
The Autumn Creek Trail is located along the southeast section of Glacier National Park, and runs between East Glacier Montana and the Autumn Creek Trailhead. This Glacier Park trail is almost utilized more during the winter months rather than summer, because it is a popular trail for cross country skiers. The Autumn Creek Trail parallels U.S.Highway 2 and the east front of Glacier Park. You enjoy the views of the Glacier Park east front mountains such as Dancing Lady Mountain, Calf Robe Mountain, Summit Mountain, Little Dog Mountain and Elk Mountain along this fairly level Glacier Park hike.
Finding The Trailhead
The official trailhead for the Autumn Creek Trail is just west of the Blacktail Hills, on U.S. Highway 2. This trailhead is south of Marias Pass about 5.3 miles (rough approximation), where Autumn Creek runs into Bear Creek.
At Marias Pass, there is a connector trail that takes you past Three Bears Lake and then connects with the Autumn Creek Trail.
The Marias Pass trailhead is a popular trailhead to reach Autumn Creek, as there is not as much vertical elevation gain here as you are not hiking around the Blacktail Hills.
Directions For Starting From Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Montana
If you are wanting to start hiking along the Autumn Creek Trail starting at the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Montana, it's a little tricky finding the trail. Below are more detailed instructions:
Go behind the Glacier Park Lodge to the golf course. Follow the golf cart path down Hole #1 to the gate below the hole. Then walk down the gravel road (Midvale Creek Road), over the bridge (Midvale Creek Bridge), hike past the bridge and past a brown shack, and when you see a 15 MPH sign, take the first right that is just beyond the brown shack. Once you're on this road, take the very next right onto a forest trail. From there, continue to take a LEFT at each junction, and eventually you will reach the Glacier National Park Boundary.
Autumn Creek Trailhead (mile 0.0)
Park you car at the trailhead. The trail will follow the west bank of Autumn Creek as it works its way around the west side of the Blacktail Hills. This 1.6 mile section of the trail is well-maintained as you work you way to an open meadow just below Elk Mountain to the west, and is where most of your vertical elevation gain will occur. The trail then descends gradually for 2.4 miles, where you will encounter the Marias Pass connector trail junction.
Marias Pass Connector Trail Junction (mile 4.0)
At mile 4.0 you will encounter the Marias Pass connector trail junction. Stay left (straight) to continue on the Autumn Creek Trail. (This connector trail begins at Marias Pass, and works its way near the Three Bears Lake on its way to the Autumn Creek Trail in Glacier National Park.)
Your Glacier Park hike along Autumn Creek will then take you along the east front mountains of Little Dog Mountain, Summit Mountain, Calf Robe Mountain and Dancing Lady Mountain (from south to north). You will be in a lot of lodgepole pine trees, but occasionally the trees will open up and you'll get some nice views of these scenic mountains to the west. We have encountered black bears and grizzly bears along this stretch of the trail, so make sure you talk loud so you don't surprise one. Also, this section of the trail is usually poorly maintained, so you'll have to work a little harder than normal as you must step over downed trees occasionally. The last time we were on this trail, route finding was not an issue.
Autumn Creek Trail in Glacier National Park.
A view of the Autumn Creek Trail Area from U.S.Highway 2 near the Lubec Trailhead in Glacier Park. This photo was taken just as the sun was rising, creating an incredible "Alpenglow" on the east front mountains.
Lubec Trailhead Connector Trail Junction (mile 10.2)
6.2 miles past the Marias Pass connector trail junction in Glacier National Park, you will encounter the Lubec Trailhead connector trail. This is a popular route to Firebrand Pass. Stay left (straight) to continue onward along the Autumn Creek Trail. The trail is very well maintained along this section.
Glacier Park Boundary (mile 16.1)
In 4.9 miles from the Firebrand Pass Trail junction, you will reach the Glacier National Park Boundary. The trail is fairly well maintained throughout this entire section. However, once you get beyond the boundary, the trail for the next 1.8 miles is once again poorly maintained as you work your way to the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Montana, and there are several unmarked trail junctions that you need to know which trail to take. The best way to describe what to do along this confusing section of the trail, is whenever you see a trail junction, TAKE A RIGHT until you reach the small dirt road. When you reach the Midvale Creek Road (gravel), take a left. You'll see an old brown shack at this intersection. Cross the Midvale Creek Bridge, and take a right near Hole #1, and hike up the cart path to the Glacier Park Lodge parking lot at the beginning of the golf course.
Glacier Park Lodge (mile 17.9)
Once you find your way through the confusing final 1.8 mile section of the trail, you will reach the Glacier Park Lodge parking lot, at Hole #1 of the East Glacier Golf Course.