Triple Divide Peak | Glacier National Park, Montana
This spire is the three-faceted jewel in the Crown, dividing Rocky Mountain waters among the Columbia's plunge to the Pacific Ocean, the Misssouri-Mississippi's slide to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Saskatchewan River's amble to the Arctic Ocean.
Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark
St. Mary trailhead is at the eastern end of Montana's Going-to-the-Sun Road, in St Mary. For Cutbank trailhead take Highway 89 south from St. Mary or north from East Glacier, turn off west onto Cutbank Road. This gravel road is 4 miles to the Cutbank Ranger Station where there is a parking area and the trailhead.
Estimated Time it Takes to Experience this Trail
Long day-hike or Multi-day (one day in and one day out)
Triple Divide Peak is just west of Triple Divide Pass which can be reached in a long day-hike from Cutbank Ranger Station or by backpacking from St. Mary to Red Eagle Lake and then to Triple Divide Pass. The southern approach follows Cutbank Creek for four gentle miles before beginning a gradual, steady climb ( no switchbacks) up the valley to the Pass. From St. Mary the trail to Red Eagle Lake is fairly level, climbing only a few hundred feet over 7.5 miles. There are campgrounds at both the foot and head of Red Eagle Lake,. The campsites at the foot of the lake enjoy particularly gorgeous scenery. The lake is quite stunning, with a backdrop of jagged peaks- the Points in the Crown. Fishing for rainbow-cutthroat hybrids is excellent, according to myth. This is also prime grizzly habitat, so be Bear Aware.
From the head of Red Eagle Lake, Triple Divide Pass is another 8 miles, 6.5 of which ascend moderately with great views and many waterfalls. The last 1.5 miles is a series of serious switchbacks up the talus slope.
Highlights and Best Features of this Trail
Triple Divide Peak is one of those rare locations in the world: from the summit rainfall and snowmelt flow in three directions: to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or to the Arctic Ocean via Hudsons Bay, forming a three-way Continental Divide. Over eons the three major watersheds have enabled plants and animals to migrate "upstream" into the Crown of the Continent, giving it one of the most diverse assemblages of flora and fauna in North America. The Peak can be reached from St. Mary's via the Red Eagle Trail, or from the Cut Bank Campground.
7.2 miles from Cutbank Ranger Station, 16.2 miles from St. Mary.
Trail Vertical Gain or Loss
From Cutbank Ranger Station: 2380' in 7.2 miles, from St Mary via Red Eagle Lake: 2980 in 16.2 miles.