Gunsight Pass

Distance: 19.0 miles (one way)

Glacier National Park, near St Mary in Glacier Natl Park, MT

Terrific views down the length of Gunsight Lake

Terrific views down the length of Gunsight Lake


Memorable backpack over Gunsight and Lincoln Passes travels by gorgeous Gunsight Lake and Lake Ellen Wilson set amid towering peaks adorn with glaciers and waterfalls. Wildflowers and wildlife add to the hike’s delights.
See Trail Detail/Full Description

  • Distance: 6.0 miles (one way) to Gunsight Lake
    13.2 miles (one way) to Sperry Chalet area
    19.4 miles (one way) to Gunsight Pass Trailhead
  • Elevation: 3,220-ft. at Trailhead
    5,351-ft. at Gunsight Lake
    7,050-ft. at Sperry Chalet area
    6,550-ft. at Gunsight Pass Trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 706-ft. to Gunsight Lake
    3,190-ft. to Sperry Chalet area
    -3,360-ft. to Gunsight Pass Trailhead
  • Difficulty: strenuous
  • More Hikes in:
    St Mary / Lake McDonald / Glacier Natl Park, MT

Why Hike Gunsight Pass

One of the quintessential backpacks in Glacier National Park, the Gunsight Pass trail features soaring peaks, glaciers, stunning lakes, high passes, meadows awash in wildflowers and wildlife. The trip is best done as a two to three day backpack but some extremely fit, well acclimated hikers finish the trail in a day.

Permits are difficult to secure due to high demand and a limited number of permits. Persistence and flexibility pay off. Other options include hiking over the pass as part of a stay in the Sperry Chalet (currently closed) or sampling the trail on a day hike to Gunsight Lake.

Be advised that the section of the trail between the Jackson Glacier Overlook and Gunsight Lake are quite lush with waist to thigh high vegetation. Make plenty of noise when hiking so you don’t inadvertently stumble upon a bear.

Snow fields linger long into the season around Gunsight Pass. The steep slopes around the pass compound the problem, at time requiring parties to carry ice axes for safety. Before setting out, check on current conditions at one of Glacier’s visitor centers.

This is a point-to-point hike that requires the use of the Glacier Shuttle Bus or a car shuttle. Check the bus schedule and plan accordingly.

Elevation: 5,310-ft. at Trailhead at Jackson Glacier Overlook
4,645-ft. at Reynolds Creek Crossing
6,946-ft. at Gunsight Pass
6,050-ft. at Lake Ellen Wilson
7,050-ft. at Lincoln Pass
3,220-ft. at Gunsight Pass Trailhead near Lake McDonald Lodge

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile - Gunsight Pass Backpack

Trail Resources

Trail Detail/Full Description / Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
St Mary / Lake McDonald

Region Information:
Glacier Natl Park, MT

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