Generally, the trails of Glacier National Park are open to stock (i.e., horses, mules, donkeys, llamas),as well as foot travel. There are a few trails, however, that due to their physical condition or unsuitability, are not available for stock use. See list below. Check for maintenance schedules to determine if rock and downfall have been cleared from the trails. It is a good idea to check on the status of river crossings, especially the Middle Fork of the Flathead.
Stock use is prohibited on paved roads at all times. Dirt roads where stock use is permitted include: the Old Flathead Ranger Station Road, the spur road to the Apgar Lookout Trailhead, the Bowman Lake road (when closed to vehicular traffic) and the Inside North Fork road (when closed to vehicular traffic).
Certain conditions may cause trails to be closed to stock use. Generally, this is in the early summer, when they still have steep snow banks, before trails have dried out sufficiently, or during extended periods of wet weather. Bear activity may also result in temporary closures at any time. To be certain, check at a visitor center or ranger station.
The day use limit shall be no more than 10 animals in a party, except on the trails listed below, where 20 shall be allowed due to special maintenance or other considerations. This list may be modified by the Superintendent.
Overnight use of the backcountry is controlled by the issuance of a Backcountry Use Permit. Permits are issued for periods of up to 6 nights and may be obtained at major ranger stations and backcounty permit offices. Advance reservations may be requested for a fee. Backcountry campgrounds have designated capacities for numbers of people and stock that cannot be exceeded. Competition is very keen at some areas for available space from July to mid-August. Stock users are encouraged to plan overnight trips after this period, when trails and campgrounds are less crowded, in better condition for horse travel, and there are fewer insects. When planning an overnight trip in the backcountry using stock, be aware that certain campsites are not available for stock use due to size or resource considerations. Please see our Backcountry Camping page for more information.
Loading Ramps and Area Limits
If you are using a stock truck, there are loading ramps located at the sites listed below. Check with a visitor center or ranger station for exact locations. Overnight limits for specific campgrounds may not be exceeded for day use stop-overs; however, up to five head may be taken into areas that do not allow overnight use. Also, parties which exceed particular limits may pass through the area, but may not remain (Example: A 10-horse party may cross Brown Pass although only 8 head at a time may stop at the Brown Pass Campground). An information sheet with details about parking and loading ramps, for west side trailheads is available upon request. The following locations have loading ramps:
- Apgar Horse Concession
- Bowman Lake
- Camas Creek Trailhead
- Chief Mountain Trailhead
- Coal Creek Trailhead
- Cut Bank Trailhead
- Fielding Access Road Trailhead
- Gunsight Pass Horse Trailhead
- Kishenehn Trailhead
- Lake McDonald Ranger Station
- Lincoln Lake Trailhead
- Logging Creek Ranger Station
- Many Glacier Horse Concession
- Mt. Henry at Two Medicine Trailhead
- Nyack Trailhead
- Packer's Roost Trailhead
- Sperry Chalet Trailhead (near campstore)
- Walton Ranger Station
Crossing the Border
Special provisions and restrictions apply when crossing the International Boundary with stock. Canadian stockmen must have proof of a Coggins test, endorsed by a veterinarian. Call the Montana State Veterinarian (406) 444-2043 for more information.
U.S. stockmen must obtain a horse use permit from Carway Customs; each animal must have had a Coggins test endorsed by a veterinarian, and must enter and exit at Carway. Length of stay is 72 hours. Call (403) 653-3009 for more details.
Low Impact Stock Use
The proper use of Glacier's backcountry will prevent damage to the natural resources, maintain the aesthetic quality of the area, and avoid conflicts with other users. Please comply with the following regulations, guidelines and Leave No Trace techniques.
- Grazing of stock is not permitted. Stock users need to pack supplementary feed such as grain or pellets. Feed must be hung out of reach of bears using the established food hanging device or an NPS approved bear-resistant feed container (available to checkout at permit stations).
- Transporting hay into or through Glacier is prohibited, except on the portion of U.S. Highway 2 which passes through the park.
- Due to problems with noxious weeds, feeding hay at trailheads or backcountry campgrounds is prohibited.
- When not being used, pack and saddle stock must be tethered. Horses, llamas or mules that are nervous "diggers" or "pawers" should be hobbled when tied to prevent unnecessary damage to the terrain. Please tie at least 200' from streams or lakes
- Always use hitch-racks where provided. Where there are no hitchracks, tie a rope between two trees, "a highline" away from the trail and hitch the stock to the rope. This avoids damage to the tree and trampling around the root system.
- Stock are not permitted in the camping areas of campgrounds. Load & unload at the hitchrails provided.
- Loose herding or trailing is prohibited.
- Hikers are required to stand quietly on the lower side of the trail and yield the right-of-way to stock. Many hikers do not know and understand the need for this procedure, so stock users are encouraged to courteously coach them on proper meeting procedures.
- Please stay on established trails. Cross-country riding or riding on paved roads is not permitted.
- Scatter manure after camping or stopping for long periods and smooth out any ruts or holes.
- Stock is not permitted in auto campgrounds.
Trails Closed to Stock
In the Lake McDonald Valley
- Avalanche Lake Trail
- Loop Parking Area to Packer's Roost Trail Junction (Granite Park Trail)
- Spur Trail to Sperry Glacier
- Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail
At Logan Pass
- Hidden Lake Trail
- Logan Pass to Granite Park Chalet
In the Many Glacier Valley
- Appekunny Falls Trail
- Grinnell Glacier Trail
- Hidden Falls Trail
- Josephine Walkway
- Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail
In the St. Mary Valley
- Baring Falls from Sunrift Gorge
- Sun Point Nature Trail
In the Two Medicine Valley
- Dawson Pass to Cutbank Pass Trail Junction
- Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail
In Other Parts of the Park
- Hole-in-the-Wall Spur Trail
- Huckleberry Mountain Nature Trail
- Spur Trail to Lake Francis
Trails with a limit of 20-Head of Stock - Day Use Only
- Apgar Lookout Trail
- Apgar Mountain Loops
- Apgar Flats Trail
- Cracker Lake Trail
- Gunsight Pass Trail (Lake McDonald Lodge Trailhead to Sperry Chalet)
- Josephine Lake/Grinnell Lake (Horse Trails)
- McDonald Valley Trails
- Red Gap Pass Trail (Many Glacier Road to Poia Lake)
- Swiftcurrent Pass Trail (Many Glacier to Granite Park)
- Bowman Lake Road (When closed to vehicles)
- Inside North Fork Road (When closed to vehicles)
- The Old Flahead Ranger Station Road
- The Spur to Apgar Lookout Trailhead
Check with Rangers for specific locations.
Stock Use at Bowman Lake
Stock users may keep up to ten head of stock at the Bowman Lake Corral while they camp at Bowman Lake Campground (about ¼ mile away). Prior permission must be obtained from the Polebridge Ranger Station (888-7842).
Noxious weed-seed free pellets and grain may be fed, but hay is prohibited.