A stunning Preston Park, brimming with bright-yellow Glacier Lilies offers a hint of what’s to come on this trail. We crossed a beautiful stream and enjoyed epic mountain views throughout this journey. The reward is worth the rocky ascent up and over Siyeh Pass. To begin your journey, park at the Siyeh Bend parking lot. Follow trail signs for Piegan Pass, which will take you 10 miles and gains 2,300 feet in elevation.
Preston Park is one of the prettiest meadows in Glacier! In just 2.5 miles, you’ll head up to enjoy views of Mt. Siyeh at Preston Park. You’ll know it when you see it! Pretty soon you’ve reached a series of switchbacks. This tough climb leads you up the rocky slopes of Matahpi Peak and to Siyeh Pass. Throughout the trek up, take a few minutes to relax and sip water.
We started early to avoid the hottest part of the day, which came in handy later. A hat, preferably with a wider brim, a long-sleeve shirt and pants offers sun protection. Wildflowers are at their peak in early Summer. Such beauty and tenacity! They require no work from us, then bloom generously for our pleasure. The alpine meadows offered a beautiful backdrop, after spending several miles in the trees.
We used a filter to refill our bottles at Baring Creek. Cold and clean water from Glacier is far superior to most tap water! We munched on local jerky as we explored the creek bed to find a safe spot to cross. Comfy, water-proof and sturdy boots helped protect our feet.
Three different valleys offer expansive and changing views. Find a good spot for lunch, then just enjoy the moment. Look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep below Sexton Glacier, which feeds the creek you just crossed. On this day, a group of students sat along the trail at the pass, as their Geology teacher lectured about the surrounding rock formations.
Once over the pass, the trail descends 3,400 feet in 5.4 miles, traveling through rocky terrain and alpine meadows. Snow covered parts of the trail, making for a slippery walk down. At one point, we just slid down on our butts!
The back-half of this trail had a lot of standing deadwood and tightly-packed baby pine trees from a previous fire. It opened up the vistas and provides habitat for the pretty, purple fireweed.
The scars on this landscape remind us of fire’s benefits. The inability of man to control nature is “a blessing in disguise, as their inability to suppress all fires had unexpected ecological benefits. Over time, the park service developed a broader understanding and approach to fire. Now a variety of tactics are used, combining fire operations, prescribed fire, and fire ecology to maintain fire as part of the natural ecosystem.” – National Park Service
The narrow gorge drops swiftly and dramatically. The roaring waters of Sunrift Gorge, offer a stunning foreground to the mountains in the distance. The abundance of water produces lush, green grasses and wildflowers. The trail doesn’t venture close to the gorge, but you’ll want to stay on the trail to preserve flora and fauna.
Take a side trip to check out the water once again, before dropping down to the road. At the road, you can catch the Park shuttle back to your car (Sunrift Gorge Stop to Siyeh Bend Parking). On the way back to our VRBO we spotted this moose off Going-to-the-Sun Road. Overall this trail is one of our top 10 Day Hikes and we hope you’ll get the chance to explore it one day soon.