Redrock Falls to Bullhead Lake — East Glacier Hikes, Part 1

It’s now “Day Four” of my Glacier National Park vacation, and the only “bigger than a breadbox” wildlife sightings I have seen amount to one lousy goat.  Sure, there have been marmots, chipmunks, squirrels. But nothing worth getting excited about. Now that I am on the more remote east side, I think my chances will improve.   In fact, my anticipation is bordering on angst, as I have heard the likelihood of encountering bears on the trail is much greater in this section of the park.

Today, I am hiking to Redrock Falls, but it is only a 4 mile RT hike, so I will extend a bit further to Upper Bullhead Lake, making it a little over 7 miles in length.  You may recall from this photo in my previous post, there have been recent bear sightings at Bullhead Lake, so I pack my bear spray canister on my hip, and do a couple of “Quick Draw” trial runs to be sure it is readily accessible.IMG_0591

This trail is a great option because the trail-head is only about 50 feet from my Many Glacier campsite, so no commute is required to the trail-head.    The downside is the location makes for one of the more popular hikes in the area. But due to my over-indulgent splurge at the Many Glacier Lodge breakfast buffet, I am getting a late start. So there are no crowds.   I set a turnaround time to be sure I make it back to the campground in plenty of time before dark.

Fishercap Lake.  Blackfeet called George Grinnell "Fishercap."

Fishercap Lake. Blackfeet called George Grinnell “Fishercap.”



The first stop along the trail is Fishercap Lake, named for the Blackfoot Indian name given to George Grinnell, early conservationist and advocate of the park.   A moose is known to frequent the water’s edge, so I am hopeful that my timing for wildlife will have improved.    I arrive at the lake’s edge, and a woman tells me she has been coming down to the lake every day during her stay to watch the moose.  But today, he is no where to be found.

As I am returning to the main trail, I encounter three beautiful deer.  (Though “bigger than a breadbox,” I do not count them as “wildlife” considering they hang out along most major highways.)   I stand and watch them graze, as they seem to be impervious to my presence.  But then, I hear a thrashing noise behind me, coming on fast.  The deer race off in a blur, bolting down to the shore of the lake and beyond.   The thrashing noise alarms me, and adrenalin shoots through my veins as I whirl around to see what is approaching behind me.   Two Asian tourists with telephoto lenses, chasing after the deer.  I am not the only one desperate to see wildlife, it would appear.

Yellow Lupine?

Yellow Lupine?


The trail comes to Redrock Lake before I reach the falls.  I can hear them long before I see them.  Soon, the trail splits, and I arrive at the edge of the cascades rushing through sculpted boulders carved in red rock known as the “Grinnell Layer,” colored a vivid red by iron oxide.   There are a handful of hikers at the falls, all asking the same question, “Seen any bears?”

Redrock Falls

Redrock Falls



I leave the falls and keep walking toward Upper Bullhead Lake.  The trail is very scenic, flanked on both sides by mountains, and dotted with wildflowers.   The trail is level, so the walking is easy.  I could go on like this forever, but “half time” is approaching.   I am already at the point where I need to turn around, but I can see the lake overlook up ahead, so I decide to continue on for another few minutes.IMG_0610


"Load Limit -- One hiker at a time"

“Load Limit — One hiker at a time”

As I am standing on the rock overlooking Upper Bullhead Lake, a hiker approaches from Swiftcurrent Pass up ahead.  “Which way you headed?” he asks.  “Back to Many Glacier Campground.”   “Oh, just wanted to let you know there is a grizzly up ahead.”  “REALLY??  How far?,” I ask.   “He is way up on the switchbacks.  You’ll need to go another 20 minutes just to be able to make him out.”   I look at my watch.  Another twenty minutes would put me back at camp after sunset. I consider it for a second, but then deem it too risky.  Possibly even more so than seeing the bear…

Bullhead Lake

Bullhead Lake



I turn and head back for the 3.5 mile walk back to camp, where I don’t see another living soul….or creature bigger than a breadbox, for that matter.

Wildlife sightings bigger than a breadbox = 0, Total = 1 Goat

8 thoughts on “Redrock Falls to Bullhead Lake — East Glacier Hikes, Part 1

  1. ok, I guess you’re not going to want to look at all the pics of wildlife that IslandGirlWalkAbout got on their recent trip to Glacier. I guess timing (and luck) is everything, but better to not see anything than find a hungry grizzly directly in your path and wanting to get at the PBJ sandwich on your back!

  2. Although it would have been wonderful to see some wildlife, probably best to head back to camp when you did. Stunning images! We are looking forward to seeing Glacier next year.

  3. Lynne — Yes, Hector’s photos are enviable for sure, but I am happy with my “consolation prize” of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and fragrant forests!

    Karen — Yes, so close, but still so far! Hope you are adapting to the school year with ease…

    LuAnn — Thanks for following along! I will definitely return to this park one day. Such beautiful scenery, even sans wildlife!

    Bobbie — Thank you so much for the nice compliment! I have been “camera challenged” this year, as I have been through two point and shoot cameras in less than a year. But my latest (Just since North Cascades post) is the Canon S110.

    BC Mark — Are you referring to my experience of being “gassed” by the nutty hiker who never let go of her canister for the entire 7 mile hike, or do you also have a story to tell?? Inquiring minds want to know…

    Jim and Gayle — When I am an old retired lady, say around 60, no longer with a 9-5 job to do, I am going back to read those posts!

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