|Trail Features:||Outstanding views, Alpine tundra|
|Trail Location:||Two Medicine (Scenic Point Trailhead)|
|Roundtrip Length:||8.0 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||2300 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||575 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||7522 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||12.60 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||48.4852|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-113.36146|
The Scenic Point Trailhead is located 2.7 miles west of the Two Medicine entrance station. To reach your destination you’ll be following the Mt. Henry Trail for most of your route. Although it’s a fairly large lot, parking can sometimes be an issue, especially if there’s a ranger led hike scheduled for Scenic Point.
The Mt. Henry Trail owes its existence to the Great Northern Railway. In order to make transportation easier between their two properties, the Glacier Park Lodge and the Two Medicine Chalets, the railroad company contracted to build the trail in 1913.
The Mt. Henry Trail also serves as a segment 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.
At just six-tenths of a mile from the trailhead you’ll reach the side trail leading to Appistoki Falls. If you wish to make a quick visit to see the falls, the viewpoint for the waterfall is roughly a hundred yards or so from the junction.
Just above the falls you’ll emerge from the treeline, and for the most part, will be in the open all the way to Scenic Point. The trail begins to climb in earnest as well. From this point there are roughly 16 switchbacks that hikers will have to ascend before reaching their destination.
For the next couple of miles, as you proceed higher, you’ll have excellent views of the Appistoki valley, and Appistoki basin, which sits below 8164-foot Appistoki Peak towards the west and 8847-foot Mt. Henry to the south.
Roughly one mile from the trailhead you’ll enter a ghost forest of dead whitebark pines, the result of white pine blister rust, a fungal disease that was accidentally introduced from Europe around 1900. According to a park brochure nearly half of the original whitebark pine population in Glacier is already dead. It’s estimated that more than 75% of the remaining trees are infected with the disease, and will die within 20 years.
The views of Two Medicine Lake continue to get better as you climb higher. If you’re looking for a great picture of the lake, the view from the trail is actually much better than the view from Scenic Point. Also, it’s likely you’ll go home with a better picture of the lake if taken in the morning, on your way up, rather than later, on your return.
At 3.1 miles you’ll ascend a saddle and will finally have your first views of Scenic Point off towards the northeast. If you follow around the rim of the bowl you’ll see the rock ledge as it juts out towards the north.
Climbing a short distance above the saddle will complete most of the elevation gain on this hike. From here the path tracks along a fairly narrow ledge as it traverses around the top of the bowl, and on its way over to Scenic Point. Although the drop-offs are quite steep, they’re not as sheer as the drop-offs you’ll find on the Highline Trail. For early season hikers, however, you may want to note that snow can linger in this area well into the summer in some years. Also, the area around the bowl, and all the way up to Scenic Point, can be quiet windy at times. You may want to consider bringing trekking poles with you.
At roughly 3.9 miles you’ll reach the side trail that leads up to Scenic Point. From here the Mt. Henry Trail continues all the way down into the town of East Glacier. Hikers should turn left and make the short climb up to Scenic Point. From the junction it’s a pretty steep climb of roughly 145 feet in just 0.15 miles.
From the top of Scenic Point the panoramic views are simply outstanding. You’ll be able to see almost the entire Two Medicine Valley, including Lower Two Medicine Lake, Two Medicine Lake and even Upper Two Medicine Lake. Looking south you can see the town of East Glacier, the Lewis and Clark National Forest, and as far away as the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Looking east, you can see the Sweet Grass Hills rising above the Great Plains 90 miles away!
Scenic Point has the distinction of being one of four sites in Glacier to have had a locomotive bell installed on it. In 1925, W. R. Mills, an advertising agent with the Great Northern Railway, and H. A. Noble, manager of the Glacier Park Hotel Company, requested permission from the park to place locomotive bells on the summits of several passes in Glacier. According to Donald H. Robinson’s Administrative History of Glacier National Park, the request was based on the old Swiss custom of placing bells on mountain tops and passes in order to allow hikers or horseback riders the unusual experience of ringing loud bells high in the mountains.
In September of 1926 the request was finally granted to place bells at Swiftcurrent Pass, Piegan Pass and Siyeh Pass. Three years later a fourth bell was added at Scenic Point. The bells remained in place until the fall of 1943, at which point they were removed by the Glacier Park Hotel Company and donated to a World War II scrap metal drive.