Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dawson-Pitamakin But Were Afraid to Ask: Long Hike in Glacier National Park
Recently, we rounded up the best easy, moderate, and challenging Glacier National Park hikes. Today, we’re talking about the biggest on-trail, expert-level, long hike in Glacier National Park, known to locals as Daw-Pit, or Dawson-Pitamakin, or Dawson Pass and Pitamakin Pass hike.
If you’ve checked Firebrand, Siyeh, Ptarmigan, and the Highline Trail off your list, and your lungs and legs are ready for an amazing, long hike in Glacier National Park, then you might consider Dawson-Pitamakin in the Two Medicine Valley. This is a VERY big day: 17.6 miles, two passes, and 4,926 feet of elevation gain and loss.
Pro Tip: If you’re not already a hiking poles devotee, beg, borrow, or rent a pair. Your knees will thank you.
If you’re looking to test your limits, Glacier National Park has a trail for that.
Get up early for this long hike in Glacier National Park! We like to be on the trail shortly after daylight. Be sure to call and make some noise in the early hours — it’s always good to give bears every opportunity to do the right thing. And we have found over 35 years of guiding hikes in Glacier National Park that generally speaking, bears like to make good choices. You’ll find the trailhead at Two Medicine Campground, on the shore of sparkling Two Medicine Lake. Which way do you go on this loop? Well, either of course, but we recommend tackling Pitamakin first, then Dawson.
Pro Tip: We love Two Medicine for many reasons, but especially because it tends to bit a bit quieter at the height of the summer season.
Once you pass the head of the lake, you’ll begin curve around Rising Wolf mountain, gaining elevation as you pass nearly endless huckleberry patches — again, make some noise! You’ll see Old Man Lake as you ascend the switchbacks leading to Pitamakin Pass and views of Pitamakin Lake to the north. Then you’ll traverse a flat, rocky spine, soaking in stunning views of Flinsch Peak, as you approach Dawson Pass — 7,500 feet in elevation. There are often Bighorn Sheep and mountain goats scampering around this spine — take pictures and give them their space. With about five miles to go, you’ll see the spur trail to No Name Lake – yes, your legs are tired at the end of this long hike in Glacier National Park, but No Name — despite its name — is worth a look.
Yep, this is a long hike in Glacier National Park. But it’s one of the few true loops in the park, and there simply isn’t a bad view over the entirety of the nearly 18 miles. As we like to say: you won’t know if you don’t go! Let us know if you do go — we’d love to see your pictures!
Montana Raft tied off on the North Fork of the Flathead River, on Glacier National Park’s western border.
Pro Tip: The day after you do Dawson-Pitamakin, schedule some R + R on the river. We can take you whitewater rafting, scenic floating, or fishing! Overnight rafting is my personal favorite river adventure. And while you’re in the Two Medicine area, don’t forget to stop by the Two Medicine Grill for some old school, pie-for-strength, Park Cafe styled huckleberry pie!
Montana devotee since 1989.
As Communications and Marketing Director for Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, I strive daily to meet our mission of providing exceptional active travel vacations and experiences in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting Glacier's unique ecosystem using the best available, ecologically sound practices. Otherwise, you'll find me hiking, backpacking, rafting, skiing, or cleaning up the trail of glitter my kids leave in the wake of their own daily adventures. p.s. I like guest blogging. Shoot me an e-mail for details.