|Trail Features:||Outstanding views, Lake views|
|Trail Location:||Two Medicine Campground|
|Roundtrip Length:||15.4 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||2500 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||325 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||7549 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||20.40 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||48.49212|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-113.36561|
The hike to Pitamakan Pass begins from the North Shore Trailhead, located in the campground at Two Medicine. To reach the trailhead from Two Medicine Road, turn into the campground and drive a half-mile along the main road. The parking area for the trail will be on your left. If this lot is full, there’s another small parking area located just prior to reaching the main lot.
To reach the Pitamakan Pass Trail, cross over the footbridge at the trailhead and walk a tenth-of-a-mile to the trail junction. The path to the left leads to Dawson Pass, while the trail to the right leads to Pitamakan Pass.
After passing Pray Lake and the Two Medicine Campground, the trail begins to skirt around the eastern slopes of Rising Wolf Mountain.
Roughly 2.3 miles from the trailhead you’ll cross a footbridge over Dry Fork Creek. Walk another two-tenths of a mile and you’ll reach the Dry Fork Trail junction. A turn to the right will lead hikers down to the Two Medicine Entrance Station. To continue on towards Pitamakan Pass, turn left here. At this point you’ll be on the north side of Rising Wolf Mountain where the trail begins a westerly course through a broad valley, and will travel over relatively flat terrain for the next two miles or so. Throughout this section the path alternates between open meadows, pine forests and a couple of small aspen groves.
At 4.2 miles the trail reaches a large open meadow, which it will travel through for the next mile-and-a-half or so. From here you’ll have commanding views of the surrounding mountains, including Flinsch Peak and Mt. Morgan as you look towards your destination.
At roughly 6.3 miles you’ll reach the side trail to Oldman Lake. Just prior to reaching this junction you will have passed through a long, thick stretch of huckleberries, which just might be one of the thickest huckleberry patches you’ll find in the entire park. Also, as you near the junction, you’ll have your first close-up views of Pitamakan Pass, which is the low spot atop the ridge on your right. For those considering a backpacking trip, there's a campground at Oldman Lake with four individual campsites.
Walk another quarter-mile past the junction and you’ll reach the base of the climb to the top of the pass. From here the trail climbs 750 feet over the course of the next 1.1 miles. As you proceed higher the views of Oldman Lake will continue to get better. At the end of a very long switchback you’ll have commanding views of Rising Wolf Mountain, Boy Lake, and much further down the valley, beyond the v-shaped canyon, you’ll be able to see Lower Two Medicine Lake. Young Man Lake, however, is hidden by a flank on Flinsch Peak.
Beyond this switchback you’ll cross a section of trail that has a little bit of exposure as it passes over a relatively narrow ledge. This area is known for a lot of high winds, so you may want to consider bringing hiking poles to help keep your balance. If winds are really high, and conditions appear to be too dangerous, you may want to consider turning around at this point.
At 7.7 miles hikers will finally reach the top of the pass. The views here are simply stunning. The pass lies at the top of a knife-edge ridge. The width of the saddle here is roughly 20-25 feet across, so you’ll have commanding views of the valleys on either side of the pass. Many people say Dawson Pass has the better views. I would have to respectfully disagree with them.
Directly below the south side of the pass will be Oldman Lake, which sits below Flinsch Peak. On the other side of Flinsch is Dawson Pass. Looking towards the west is 8781-foot Mt. Morgan. A little further north of Morgan is 8285-foot McClintock Peak, with the Lake of the Seven Winds sitting in a basin below. The large lake directly below you, towards the north, is Pitamakan Lake. The lake in the far off distance is Morning Star Lake. In between, but hidden from view by a ridgeline, is Katoya Lake. The three mountains towards the northeast, starting counter-clockwise, are Red Mountain, Eagle Plume and Bad Marriage Mountain. The photo below looks due west, with Mt. Morgan in the middle:
Many people will continue their hike onto Dawson Pass, and then down to Two Medicine Lake, to create an epic 14.8-mile loop (provided you catch the shuttle boat – otherwise it would be 17.6-mile hike!). From the pass you can see the trail as it continues up the northern slopes of Mt. Morgan. From there it climbs over the Continental Divide and circles around Mt. Morgan, then proceeds along the west slopes of Flinsch Peak where it finally reaches Dawson Pass.
Just west of the pass you can also see the Pitamakan Pass Trail as it begins to make its way down the mountain, while passing Lake of the Seven Winds and Pitamakan Lake before heading towards its ultimate destination at Cut Bank.
The pass is named after Pitamakan, a female warrior leader of the Blackfeet Nation from the early 1700s who experienced a vision quest near this area. Pitamakan led war parties on many highly successful raids, and was the only woman in the Blackfeet tribe ever to do so, or to be given a man's name. The English translation of her name is Running Eagle.
The Pitamakan Pass Trail is also part of the Continental Divide Trail, which runs from the Mexican border in New Mexico, all the way to the town of Waterton Park in Canada.