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Logan's Loop - St Mary's, MT

Old 03-02-19, 09:19 AM
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steven.burkard
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Logan's Loop - St Mary's, MT

Right, looking for some local route knowledge and advice.

My team is planning a ride once race season is over here in Calgary, which ends with the Tour de Bowness stage race on August Long Weekend, in Montana. Check it out here https://www.strava.com/routes/17388489. My question is two fold:

Has anyone completed this route before? What do we need to know before setting off?
Any nutrition tips for a ride this length? I am no stranger to 140-170k rides, and 90-100k races, but +200k is a different animal.

Cheers all, and thanks in advance.

Last edited by steven.burkard; 03-04-19 at 08:51 AM. Reason: add link
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Old 03-04-19, 08:30 AM
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indyfabz
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Originally Posted by steven.burkard View Post
Right, looking for some local route knowledge and advice.

My team is planning a ride once race season is over here in Calgary, which ends with the Tour de Bowness stage race on August Long Weekend, in Montana. Check it out on Strava; ride ID 17388489. My question is two fold:

Has anyone completed this route before? What do we need to know before setting off?
Any nutrition tips for a ride this length? I am no stranger to 140-170k rides, and 90-100k races, but +200k is a different animal.

Cheers all, and thanks in advance.
What is meant by "Logan's Loop?" I've ridden in that area before but have never heard that name. Is it possibly St. Mary, MT, over Logan Pass in Glacier N.P. then back to St. Mary via U.S. 2, MT 49 and U.S. 89?
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Old 03-04-19, 08:54 AM
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steven.burkard
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
What is meant by "Logan's Loop?" I've ridden in that area before but have never heard that name. Is it possibly St. Mary, MT, over Logan Pass in Glacier N.P. then back to St. Mary via U.S. 2, MT 49 and U.S. 89?
Nailed it, but we will do it in reverse. https://www.strava.com/routes/17388489
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Old 03-04-19, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by steven.burkard View Post
Nailed it, but we will do it in reverse. https://www.strava.com/routes/17388489
Believe it or not, in 2009 I and my ex-GF did St. Mary to Sprague Creek Campground in the park along Lake McDonald fully loaded with camping and cooking gear. Logan Pass was still closed at the time. Since we had firm travel plans, the day was a necessity if we wanted to ride at least some of the west slope of Going to the Sun the next day heading back to Whitefish. Just rode up and back down the west slope again in 2017.

Anyway....You'd have a 6 or so mile climb out of St. Mary right from the start. Then you roll along to the climb up to Looking Glass Hill (MT 49). Not a bad climb with great views, including one of the Two Medicine are of the park. Fast descent into East Glacier, which will be the first opportunity for food and water after leaving St. Mary. From there, it's 12 miles up to Marias Pass, the lowest paved crossing of the Continental Divide. Pretty easy climb, although we had a slight headwind. Around the summit (before and after) there are a few commercial establishments, including public and private campgrounds, where you should be able to get water. From there, there is a whole lot of nothing save for a campground or two and maybe an eatery until W. Glacier, where you can get food and water. Note that the descent from Marias in not a mountain descent. You will be pedaling. Make sure you look to the right when you pass Goat Lick. You're likely to see mountain goats who come there to lick minerals.

Once you enter the park you won't be able to go east beyond Apgar Village on a bike until after 4 p.m. The park has bike restrictions that time of year between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can read about them on the park's official web site. Heading east towards Logan Pass, the road is flat to gently undulating until you reach Avalanche Campground. You will be gaining some altitude, but you won't realize it. Avalanche is the last place to get water. As you eventually pull away from McDonald Creek, the climbing will start in earnest. Done alone, it's not that bad a climb. IIRC, you never hit 8%. If you do, it's rare. Only one switchback called The Loop. There is space there to pull off and rest of you need to. The west slope is narrow and will likely have lots of traffic. But everyone drives slowly to look at the scenery and because the rode is windy at points. The views are out of this world. It's arguably the most scenic road in the U.S. Bring lots to munch on because I don't think anything is available at the visitor center at the pass.

I have only ridden the east slope once, and that was in 1999 while riding across the country. I do remember that much of it is wider and straighter than the west side. I also remember doing a good deal of pedaling. At Rising Sun Village you can find food and water, but by them you are something like 10 miles from St. Mary.

Bring at least a jacket. Anything can happen up there at any time.

From my trip up in 2017 as I was heading back down the west slope.



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Old 03-04-19, 09:30 AM
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Here's what Logan Pass looks like right now:

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Old 03-04-19, 09:49 AM
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DOH! Just realized you'll be doing Logan first. The issue with that are the bike restrictions. You can climb the east slope any time of day. However, heading west if the pass bikes are not allowed between Sprague Creek and Apgar Village between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sprague Creek is about a mile west of Lake McDonald Lodge. That means you would have to get from St. Mary to Apgar before 11 a.m. Don't know when it gets light there in August. I have only been there in mid to late June, when you can ride without lights by about 5:30 a.m. Maybe start out in the dark to make sure you have enough time. The nice thing about descending the west slope is that you can take the lane until you get down on the flats because bikes can maneuver faster than vehicle traffic. The bad thing is that if there is a lot of traffic you will likely be braking for slower cars in front of you and there is no room to pass.
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Old 03-04-19, 12:13 PM
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Wow, that is an insane amount of information, and is fantastic. Thank you @indayfabz.

You were correct with your first description, we will ride over Logan's Pass from the West heading East back toward St Mary. It would appear that we cannot pass the Apgar visitor center until 1600, which puts us leaving the campground in St Mary around 1100.
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Old 03-13-19, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by steven.burkard View Post
Wow, that is an insane amount of information, and is fantastic. Thank you @indayfabz.

You were correct with your first description, we will ride over Logan's Pass from the West heading East back toward St Mary. It would appear that we cannot pass the Apgar visitor center until 1600, which puts us leaving the campground in St Mary around 1100.
No problem. I have ridden the west side enough times that it's all burned into my memory. Another advantage of going west to east is that the descent of the east slope is faster than the west slope. The west slope of narrow with no room to pass cars, which move slower than you can descend on a bike. While that allows you to take the lane, you're on your brakes a lot more until you get down to the flat portion of the road.

When I was there in 2017 I had to hang out in Whitefish for the library to open to purchase bike shipping and print a shipping label. Then I futzed around getting to Apgar and had to hang out for maybe an hour until I could continue east to Sprague Creek Campground. In case I forgot to mention it, Sprague Creek, which is about a mile before Lake McDonald Lodge, has a day use picnic area. That means you can stop in, use the restrooms and get water if you need to without paying a use fee.
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Old 11-17-19, 02:06 PM
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Look for large mammals on the hills along MG road and /or Fishercap Lake towards dusk.










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Last edited by clarc; 11-21-19 at 08:45 AM.
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