Medicine Grizzly Lake
Includes Akokala Lake Trail, West Lakes Trail
Medicine Grizzly Lake, Glacier National Park
Medicine Grizzly Lake
The day hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park is a gorgeous hike that should have made our "top ten list of Glacier National Park hikes" if there were room on this list. Located in the Cut Bank Area of Glacier Park, this Glacier Park hike is very scenic, especially when the beargrass is in bloom. The Medicine Grizzly Lake Area is known for its beargrass, and if your timing is right, you'll be amazed at the amount of beargrass found in this scenic place. A nice bonus is that there's not much vertical elevation to worry about, which makes this Glacier Park hike quite pleasant. Surrounded by classic Glacier Park mountains, Medicine Grizzly Lake of Glacier National Park is nestled at the head of the Atlantic Creek Valley, and is absolutely beautiful. We highly recommend this wonderful day hike if you're in the Cut Bank Area of Glacier National Park during your next vacation.
Finding the Trailhead
The trailhead to Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park is located in the Cut Bank Area, right next to the Cut Bank campground. The official name for this trailhead is the Pitamakan Pass Trail, but we simply call it the Cut Bank Trailhead because it is the only gateway to the entire Cut Bank backcountry area (such as Medicine Grizzly Lake, Morning Star Lake, Pitamakan Lake, Pitamakan Pass, Triple Divide Pass and beyond. The Cut Bank area is a "less traveled" area of Glacier National Park, and the beauty of its scenery is remarkable and well worth the 5 mile drive on a gravel road. The Cut Bank campground is a small and quiet primitive campground that attracts Glacier Park visitors who want to get away from a lot of people. This entire area is really amazing, and we love it. To learn more details about the Cut Bank Area and where to find it, click here.
The Hike To Medicine Grizzly Lake
Your hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park begins in an absolutely gorgeous meadow that is often teeming with wildflowers. Bad Marriage Mountain dominates the view to the south as you walk several hundred yards through this wonderful open meadow.
This Glacier Park trail will then follow the north banks of North Fork Cut Bank Creek for nearly 4 miles as you hike through a mix of forest and open parks of the Cut Bank Valley.
As you continue to head west along North Fork Cut Bank Creek toward your destination, the mountains to the west will get closer and closer to you. One mountain in particular that really stands out is Razoredge Mountain. Centered directly to the west, this mountain has a permanent snow field below its summit which makes it stand out. The reason we are mentioning this particular mountain is because Medicine Grizzly Lake rests directly below it, and it is exactly where you are headed.
Your hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park includes hiking along the banks of North Fork Cut Bank Creek. As you look into the distance in this photo, you will see Razoredge Mountain with its distinctive permanent snow field below its summit. Medicine Grizzly Lake rests directly below this mountain.
At about mile 4 you will come to Morning Star Lake junction. The trail to the left takes you to Morning Star Lake, Pitamakan Lake, Pitamakan Pass and beyond, whereas the trail to the right continues onward towards Medicine Grizzly Lake. Just beyond the Morning Star Lake junction you'll cross Atlantic Creek, and your trail will then follow this new drainage (called the Atlantic Creek Valley) for the rest of your hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake.
About 0.4 miles beyond the Morning Star Lake junction you'll hike by the Atlantic Creek backcountry campground. This is an important Glacier Park backcountry campground for overnight backcountry hikers who are hiking from the Cut Bank Area to the St. Mary Area via Triple Divide Pass (or vice versa). And in another 0.3 miles along this Glacier Park trail you'll reach the Triple Divide junction. The trail to the right begins to climb abruptly up the north side of the Atlantic Creek Valley for about 2 miles, all the way up to Triple Divide Pass, which is about 2,000 vertical feet above Medicine Grizzly Lake. At the Triple Divide junction, take the trail to the left to continue onward to Medicine Grizzly Lake, which is now only approximately 1.4 miles from the lake at this point.
As you begin your 1.4 mile hike up the middle of the Atlantic Creek Valley, you will see Razoredge Mountain dominating the view to the west, which is where Medicine Grizzly Lake is nestled below. This is a very scenic portion of the trail due to the lush green fields that you'll hike through, as well as the impressive mountains that begin to surround you. And if your timing is good, these meadows will be covered in beargrass, which makes this beautiful Glacier Park hike even more spectacular.
Medicine Grizzly Lake
Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park rests directly below Razoredge Mountain. Notice the waterfalls streaming off these huge cliffs from snow fields that are hidden from view. In addition to this spectacular backdrop, Medicine Grizzly Lake is known for its beargrass, which makes this special place even more beautiful.
When you reach the foot of Medicine Grizzly Lake, the tremendous cliffs of Razoredge Mountain are truly breathtaking has many amazing waterfalls can be seen cascading down to the lake. During the right time of year, beargrass will be everywhere which is a wonderful treat for everyone who lucked out to be there at the right time. The trail works its way along the north shore of Medicine Grizzly Lake until it comes to an abrupt end near the head of the lake.
From the foot of Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park, you'll also get a great view of the Atlantic Creek Headwall and of Triple Divide Peak to the northwest. This headwall connects Razoredge Mountain to Triple Divide Peak, and marks the place where all of the water coming off this headwall will end up in the Atlantic Ocean.
You'll also get a look at the trail that takes Glacier Park hikers up the north side of the Atlantic Creek Valley all the way to Triple Divide Pass, which is directly underneath the east face of Triple Divide Peak.
This is a view of Medicine Grizzly Lake from the foot of the lake. Triple Divide Peak can be seen to the upper right of the photo. Between Triple Divide Peak and Razoredge Mountain (right side of photo) lies the Atlantic Creek Headwall, also seen in this photo.
A great place to have lunch is near the foot of Medicine Grizzly Lake, along the north shore. There you can enjoy your lunch while taking in the incredible beauty of this classic Glacier National Park lake. And by the way, this entire area is still stunningly beautiful even without the beargrass being in bloom!
The hike to Medicine Grizzly Lake in Glacier National Park is always a treat, no matter how many times we've taken it. And even though this hike did not make our "top ten list of Glacier National Park hikes", it's only because we didn't have room to fit it in. (Maybe we should have the "top twenty Glacier Park hikes" instead!) Whatever the case, this classic Glacier Park hike is really nice, and we highly recommend it if you're in the Cut Bank Area during your Glacier National Park vacation.