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Mini Touring Ideas (Day Trips off of Amtrak Route)

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Mini Touring Ideas (Day Trips off of Amtrak Route)

Old 06-20-17, 05:48 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Winds along the coast most often come from North. In the Willamette Valley where Amtrak runs, it is more variable.

It is an agricultural area. There are some interesting sights along the way such as an airplane museum with the Spruce Goose.
McMinville. I stayed in McMinville one night with a warmshowers host. I had no idea the museum was there. and he never mentioned it.
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Old 06-20-17, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Ummm - GRRS should be GTTS "Going to the Sun" - the "R" is next to the "T". Sorry.

<<<>>>

Yep - first night at St. Mary (or if possible Rising Sun Lodge). 59 miles (66 miles).
Second night back at Essex at Isaac Walton Inn. 77 miles (70 from Rising Sun).

The first leg has three climbs - Marias Pass and steep divides north and south of Kiowa.
And you may have a little less riding time on the first day - esp. if the train is late.
If you are super buff and have the time, Two Medicine is a great lunch break.
Sinopah Peak is simply lovely against the water.
Rising Sun is in the park - cafe, small store, lovely setting.
St. Mary is outside the park and mobbed - but has all services.

The second leg had one big, but gradual climb to Logan Pass.
98% of the crowds hike towards Hidden Lake on the boardwalk.
I much prefer hiking along Highline Trail to Haystack Butte - trailhead across road.
Remember, GTTS along Lake MacDonald is closed to cyclists from 11a to 4p.
Lake MacDonald Lodge makes a nice break - but I wouldn't start down until 2p.

If you left the lodge at 4p, that should get you back to Essex just after 7p at 12 mph.
I've biked every legal mile in Glacier N.P. - and hiked the backcountry.
I even cross the border at the remote North Fork crossing which has been closed since 9-11.
Fabulous park - worth every minute.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/22312705

Pic - Sinopah Peak at Two Medicine Lake

PS - You will DEFINITELY need reservations at all locations.
Issac Walton Inn will be easiest - tougher at Rising Sun or St. Mary.
Great info, thanks!

I plan on being there July 5 and 6; looks like lodging in the park is slim pickings.
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Old 06-20-17, 11:06 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Winds along the coast most often come from North. In the Willamette Valley where Amtrak runs, it is more variable.

It is an agricultural area. There are some interesting sights along the way such as an airplane museum with the Spruce Goose. It isn't stunning awesome scenic like the coast further west, but I found it pleasant riding and did a number of "day ride down...train back" type rides when I lived in Portland. I also essentially rode Vancouver to Eugene each year but broken into different weekends - so definitely enjoyed the riding.

Portland is a larger and busier city. Portland has its own bike culture and events, e.g. Sunday parkway closures, a Bridge Ride, a Naked Ride, etc so depending on interests and timing would be a different type of stop. However, also a
lot busier.
Thanks! I was actually thinking instead of getting off the train at Portland instead: The train arrives around 4pm, and the Empire Builder doesn't depart until around 4-ish the next day, so I can ride around the city and the River Gorge a bit.
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Old 06-21-17, 12:42 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Great info, thanks!

I plan on being there July 5 and 6; looks like lodging in the park is slim pickings.
Issac Walton has availability on the 6th.
You can get a room at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier on the 5th.
(Neither is cheap)

You could ride from Essex to East Glacier then up to Two Medicine and back to East Glacier.
Take the first shuttle to St. Mary the next morning - or a Red Jammer Bus is available.
Then head out on GTTS as before.
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Old 06-21-17, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Issac Walton has availability on the 6th.
You can get a room at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier on the 5th.
(Neither is cheap)

You could ride from Essex to East Glacier then up to Two Medicine and back to East Glacier.
Take the first shuttle to St. Mary the next morning - or a Red Jammer Bus is available.
Then head out on GTTS as before.
Hmm...didn't want to spend that much on lodging over 2 nights. If I booked a room in Coram (just south of West Glacier), would this be doable/advisable:

-Hop off Amtrak at West Glacier
-Ride up GTTS to St. Mary (eastbound [I know, sun will be in my face])
-Return via GTTS back to West Glacier/Coram for the night
-Depart on Amtrak the next morning
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Old 06-21-17, 02:12 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Hmm...didn't want to spend that much on lodging over 2 nights. If I booked a room in Coram (just south of West Glacier), would this be doable/advisable:

-Hop off Amtrak at West Glacier
-Ride up GTTS to St. Mary (eastbound [I know, sun will be in my face])
-Return via GTTS back to West Glacier/Coram for the night
-Depart on Amtrak the next morning
Well - - it is peak season and short notice.
Camping is way cheaper and you always have hiker/biker spots.
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Old 06-21-17, 11:40 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Well - - it is peak season and short notice.
Camping is way cheaper and you always have hiker/biker spots.
True. However, I'm not a tourer, and am not equipped to bike/camp. I'll just have to compromise and improvise.
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Old 06-23-17, 02:06 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Well - - it is peak season and short notice.
Camping is way cheaper and you always have hiker/biker spots.

Here is my updated itinerary; I'd like to hear your thoughts and suggestions:

Private Room booked at a hostel in East Glacier

Get off Empire Builder at West Glacier in AM
Ride from WG to St. Mary 9 (50 miles, 4k elevation)
Either ride from St Mary to East Glacier, or take a shuttle from SM to East Glacier if I'm there in time before the last shuttle leaves
Overnight in EG, and then back on the train the next morning
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Old 06-23-17, 02:11 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Here is my updated itinerary; I'd like to hear your thoughts and suggestions:

Private Room booked at a hostel in East Glacier

Get off Empire Builder at West Glacier in AM
Ride from WG to St. Mary 9 (50 miles, 4k elevation)
Either ride from St Mary to East Glacier, or take a shuttle from SM to East Glacier if I'm there in time before the last shuttle leaves
Overnight in EG, and then back on the train the next morning
Why not ride the Road to the Sun? You could take a shuttle to get over the more precarious sections. This is my plan for next year. Ride the Road to the Sun Out of West Glacier making use of the shuttles. Overnight in East Glacier, ride back to West Glacier on the main road. Might take an extra day or two.
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Old 06-23-17, 02:21 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Why not ride the Road to the Sun? You could take a shuttle to get over the more precarious sections. This is my plan for next year. Ride the Road to the Sun Out of West Glacier making use of the shuttles. Overnight in East Glacier, ride back to West Glacier on the main road. Might take an extra day or two.
Actually, the route I listed above from West Glacier to St. Mary would be via GTTS road; sorry if that wasn't clear.

The problem with doing extra days of lodging is finding reasonably priced options this late into peak season (I'm going first week of July).
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Old 06-23-17, 02:45 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Actually, the route I listed above from West Glacier to St. Mary would be via GTTS road; sorry if that wasn't clear.

The problem with doing extra days of lodging is finding reasonably priced options this late into peak season (I'm going first week of July).

My fault. I wasn't even aware there was a town up there. I assumed it was on the main road. I should have checked the map. That is a good option.

You are aware that the road closes to bicycles after 11AM. Will you have the time after getting off of the train?

How far in advance do you plan on making reservations?
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Old 06-23-17, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Here is my updated itinerary; I'd like to hear your thoughts and suggestions:

Private Room booked at a hostel in East Glacier

Get off Empire Builder at West Glacier in AM
Ride from WG to St. Mary 9 (50 miles, 4k elevation)
Either ride from St Mary to East Glacier, or take a shuttle from SM to East Glacier if I'm there in time before the last shuttle leaves
Overnight in EG, and then back on the train the next morning
Possible - but with a few caveats.

The Empire Builder often runs late - fortunately you will be fairly early in the eastbound run.
Still, one cannot count on starting soon after the 8:11a scheduled time.

There is a bicycle closure eastbound/uphill from Logan Creek to Logan Pass - 11a to 4p.
You have 30 miles of riding from West Glacier to Logan Creek then 12 miles of 8% grade.
Even though you are a road rider and much faster than me - I don't see how you can do it.
If you left West Glacier at 8:30a you would get to the bottom of the climb at 10:30a.
And that's at 15 mph with no time to stop to take photos or enjoy the scenery.
You need to be finished with the uphill by 11a - not getting started.
You can be ticketed, asked to go back down, or asked to take the shuttle to the top.

https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm

You would be far better off taking the train all the way to East Glacier. (arr 9:49a)
Then taking the shuttle up to St. Mary. And riding westbound.
There are two mid morning - 10:15 and 11:00 then another at 12:15p.

There is no westbound uphill restriction.
Even leaving St. Mary as late as 2:00p should get you to West Glacier by 7:00p
There is a shuttle from West Glacier station to East Glacier station. (last one 8:25p to 10:25p)

Then the next morning you could ride up early to Two Medicine.

https://www.nps.gov/features/glac/pdf/shuttle.pdf

Shuttle Services in Glacier National Park & Whitefish Montana
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Old 06-24-17, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
My fault. I wasn't even aware there was a town up there. I assumed it was on the main road. I should have checked the map. That is a good option.

You are aware that the road closes to bicycles after 11AM. Will you have the time after getting off of the train?

How far in advance do you plan on making reservations?
Yes, though I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish the GTTS climb in time. I'll probably go the opposite direction so I won't have to worry about it.
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Old 06-24-17, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Possible - but with a few caveats.

The Empire Builder often runs late - fortunately you will be fairly early in the eastbound run.
Still, one cannot count on starting soon after the 8:11a scheduled time.

There is a bicycle closure eastbound/uphill from Logan Creek to Logan Pass - 11a to 4p.
You have 30 miles of riding from West Glacier to Logan Creek then 12 miles of 8% grade.
Even though you are a road rider and much faster than me - I don't see how you can do it.
If you left West Glacier at 8:30a you would get to the bottom of the climb at 10:30a.
And that's at 15 mph with no time to stop to take photos or enjoy the scenery.
You need to be finished with the uphill by 11a - not getting started.
You can be ticketed, asked to go back down, or asked to take the shuttle to the top.

https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm

You would be far better off taking the train all the way to East Glacier. (arr 9:49a)
Then taking the shuttle up to St. Mary. And riding westbound.
There are two mid morning - 10:15 and 11:00 then another at 12:15p.

There is no westbound uphill restriction.
Even leaving St. Mary as late as 2:00p should get you to West Glacier by 7:00p
There is a shuttle from West Glacier station to East Glacier station. (last one 8:25p to 10:25p)

Then the next morning you could ride up early to Two Medicine.

https://www.nps.gov/features/glac/pdf/shuttle.pdf

Shuttle Services in Glacier National Park & Whitefish Montana
Excellent. I will use this as a basis for my revised itinerary.

Regarding the shuttles: Do they have room for bikes?
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Old 06-24-17, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Excellent. I will use this as a basis for my revised itinerary.

Regarding the shuttles: Do they have room for bikes?

From what I have read on their website the shuttles have bike racks but I would be it is first come first serve so you might consider a reservation.

I has on a shuttle in Oregon where the driver permitted a bike in the passenger compartment, so in a pinch always ask.
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Old 06-24-17, 03:26 PM
  #41  
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Also, thinking of spending a couple of days in Portland: Arrive July 3 in afternoon, do some exploring by bike on July 4, and then ride east along the Columbia River and catch the Empire Builder on the afternoon of July 5, and then proceed to Glacier NP.

Suggestions welcome!
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Old 06-24-17, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Also, thinking of spending a couple of days in Portland: Arrive July 3 in afternoon, do some exploring by bike on July 4, and then ride east along the Columbia River and catch the Empire Builder on the afternoon of July 5, and then proceed to Glacier NP.

Suggestions welcome!

I am getting conflicting information on Portland and bicycles on the Empire Builder..

I have seen websites that say bicycles on the Empire Builder from Portland are permitted.

But when you go to Amtrak's website they don't allow you to book a bike. And it says no baggage service in Portland.

The bike path on the Willamette River is kind of cool. There is a floating dock section that is worth seeing. Downside is there are lots of homeless along the river.
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Old 06-24-17, 03:41 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Excellent. I will use this as a basis for my revised itinerary.

Regarding the shuttles: Do they have room for bikes?
You will need to call the number on the website links above.

You know - you really don't need to take the morning shuttle if it means waiting.
Just ride up from East Glacier to St. Mary. Be aware the road is narrow and steep at times.
It's a pleasant ride with nice scenery - not the eye-popping stuff of GTTS.
About 2 hours to St. Mary - then you could have lunch at St. Mary or carry a sandwich to the lake shore.
It stays light until 10:00p in early July.

I don't know how fast you ride stripped down.
Lake McDonald Lodge is roughly the halfway point if you loop starting at East Glacier.
And you can't ride along McDonald Lake until after 4p - which is halfway between 10a and 10p.
The first half would entail three big climbs - including Logan Pass which has a smooth 8% grade.
The second half would be a fairly easy ride along the Flathead River and moderate climb over Marias.
If you can do 66 miles (mountain miles) in 6 hours - including time for meals, photos, rest, etc. -
Then you could do the entire loop from 10a to 10p without a shuttle.

But there is the late shuttle - nice to know.
And you could even ride as far as Essex/Isaac Walton Inn -
Then catch the shuttle over Marias Pass at sundown.

<<<>>>

If it were me, I would ride all the way from East Glacier via St. Mary and GTTS to West Glacier.
Then take the 8:25p shuttle back to East Glacier.
That would give me about 10 hours for 80 miles and time to enjoy the park.
(I would also get reservations for the shuttle, if possible.)

Last edited by jamawani; 06-24-17 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 06-24-17, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Capitol Limited from Chicago to Cleveland (and on to DC) has walk-on bicycle service, which means, unlike the Empire Builder, which, I think, limits their bicycle handling to baggage stops, you can get on/off at any spot with your bike as long as you have a reserved spot for the bike. There is a partially complete trail from just outside of Toledo to just outside of Cleveland. North Coast Inland Trail
It's about 120 miles from Toledo to Cleveland, but I think only half of that would be on the trail, and I've never ridden the trail, so I don't know what kind of riding it is. Sandusky is about halfway between (but not directly on the N. Coast Inland Trail) and also has a train station. Also in the north west Ohio area are some Lake Erie islands. I think they are a fun trip on bicycle and scenic, but not a good way to get high miles on a bike, as the islands maybe 5 to 10 miles long, so you spend as long on the ferry over as you do biking. If it were possible, I think it'd be good trip to bike from Toledo to the Miller Boat Line on Cawtawba, take a ferry to Put-In-Bay, and spend the night there, then take a ferry to Kelly's Island and boat to Sandusky. Problem is that, while I thought you could get a boat from Kelly's Island to Sandusky, I don't see it on the map. I only see a ferry back to the peninsula, which, thanks to Cawtawba Bay, and the fact that Route 2 is limited access, motor vehicle-only, the trip to Sandusky is pretty much another, full day trip if you went that way. Might even be easier just to backtrack to Toledo and get back on the train there. I've actually used the Route 2 bridge to get my bike between Cawtawba and Sandusky, but it's illegal and it certainly wasn't pleasant. I just didn't have the luxury of a 60 mile detour around the bay.

Also, depending where in Cleveland you were going, you could overshoot by one stop and get off the train in Alliance (at 3am, unfortunately), and go west until you hit the Ohio and Erie Towpath which will then take you into Cleveland. The towpath will be largely unpaved, though, and if it's wet, it may not be great riding, but if it's dry, I think it'd be pleasant, and the surface is very smooth.
Thanks! I decided I'm just going to ride the rails into Cleveland.
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Old 06-24-17, 04:59 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I am getting conflicting information on Portland and bicycles on the Empire Builder..

I have seen websites that say bicycles on the Empire Builder from Portland are permitted.

But when you go to Amtrak's website they don't allow you to book a bike. And it says no baggage service in Portland.

The bike path on the Willamette River is kind of cool. There is a floating dock section that is worth seeing. Downside is there are lots of homeless along the river.
Yeah, I'll double check that; I've seen some trains on the same routes at the same stops, but at different times differing on bike/ baggage service.
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Old 06-24-17, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post

If it were me, I would ride all the way from East Glacier via St. Mary and GTTS to West Glacier.
Then take the 8:25p shuttle back to East Glacier.
That would give me about 10 hours for 80 miles and time to enjoy the park.
(I would also get reservations for the shuttle, if possible.)
Excellent! I will most likely go this route.
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Old 06-24-17, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
From what I have read on their website the shuttles have bike racks but I would be it is first come first serve so you might consider a reservation.

I has on a shuttle in Oregon where the driver permitted a bike in the passenger compartment, so in a pinch always ask.
Okay, thanks.
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Old 06-24-17, 06:27 PM
  #48  
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Btw,jamawani, are we allowed to ride on any of the trails? Specifically, some of the trails that may be at the top of the climb (to explore while waiting for GTTS to reopen to cyclists).
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Old 06-24-17, 06:39 PM
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From their website

https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm

Are There Bike Trails?
Bicycles are permitted on all of the roads in the park but are not permitted on trails, with three exceptions:

  • The paved path from Park Headquarters to Apgar Village,
  • The Fish Creek Bike Path from Apgar Village to Fish Creek Campground and,
  • The old Flathead Ranger Station trail.

Additionally, the Inside North Fork Road is temporarily closed to vehicles between Camas Creek and Logging Creek and makes an excellent, although unpaved, route for exploring the park by bicycle
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Old 06-24-17, 07:39 PM
  #50  
jamawani 
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Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Btw,jamawani, are we allowed to ride on any of the trails? Specifically, some of the trails that may be at the top of the climb (to explore while waiting for GTTS to reopen to cyclists).
I suspect that if you start out from East Glacier a bit after 10:00, you will not have any issue with waiting at Lake McDonald. When you get up to Logan Pass you really should lock your bike and hike out some. The mobbed trail is the one south to Hidden Lake - a boardwalk with hundreds of turistas all the time. But the Highline Trail heads north towards Haystack Butte on the other side of the road from the visitor center. You are above treeline - there's a short stretch with a cable hold, but nothing extreme. There will be people, but only a dozen or so on your out-and-back. If it takes 2 hours to get to St. Mary and 2 more to get to Logan - that gives you an hour to spend up top, a half hour to zoom down, and a half hour to get some food at the McDonald Lodge or store. Then it is 4:00.

But - - - if you are planning on taking the 8:25 shuttle from West Glacier, why rush?
I wouldn't head down from Logan until 4:00, or a bit later - less traffic.
Then, maybe, have an early meal out on the deck at McDonald Lodge
with the evening sun on the high peaks. Maybe push off at 6:30 for the last 15 miles.
Gives you about an hour to spare getting to the West Glacier depot.

<<<>>>

And - no - bikes aren't allowed on the trail per above.

Last edited by jamawani; 06-24-17 at 07:43 PM.
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