Glacier National Park is only a few hours away from where I grew up but, up until last month, I’d never visited. I’m not sure what took me so long. This southern most part of the Canadian Rockies is stunning!

Wildflowers and open meadows along the Belly River
Wildflowers and open meadows along the Belly River

Glacier gets a lot of snow – up to 40 feet in a season – and it tends to stick around late into the summer, so I was looking for a good early-season backpacking trip. Belly River in the remote north-east corner of the park seemed like the perfect choice. It’s a nice relaxing walk through meadows and along beautiful tortoise lakes. What I didn’t expect, for such a tranquil place, is so many thundering waterfalls.

Gross Ventre Falls
Gross Ventre Falls

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Experimenting with a new tent
Experimenting with a new tent

We passed by and visited a number of waterfalls each day but my favourite by far was the unnamed falls above Mokowanis Lake. Mokowanis itself is very pretty, surrounded by impressive mountains and lush forest. The official trail ends not far beyond the lake-side campsite but it’s easy to continue further up the valley. As you round a bend in the trail, all of sudden the falls appear, two levels high and thundering down toward you. Spectacular!

Mokowanis Lake
Mokowanis Lake
Falls above Mokowanis Lake
Falls above Mokowanis Lake

It’s possible to follow a faint trail further, quickly becoming quite steep as it ascends the headwall over which the waterfall tumbles. The going is rough but when you get to the top, you’re rewarded with another beautiful sight, this time it’s the intensely tortoise Margaret Lake.

Margaret Lake
Margaret Lake
Sunbeam
Sunbeam
Snack time
Snack time

After camping at Mokowanis Lake, we headed to Elizabeth Lake, stopping at another waterfall, Dawn Mist Falls. It’s aptly named. Mist fills the air as water thunders down.

Dawn Mist Falls
Dawn Mist Falls
Elizabeth Lake at Sunset
Elizabeth Lake at Sunset

To round out our four days exploring this area we decided to make it something of a loop by taking the Lee Ridge trail back to the road. No waterfalls here as it ascends upward away from the river quite rapidly but the views of the valley and out toward the endless rolling prairie are very nice.

Gable Pass
Gable Pass

Belly River was a great introduction to hiking in Glacier, particularly for early in the season. There’s a lot more that I look forward to exploring here.

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