Ptamigan Tunnel has a lot going on for just one hike – you have lakes, mountain views, a glacier, and a 250′ tunnel! This hike is located in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park, and it’s one of the most popular hikes. It shares the same trailhead as Iceberg Lake for about 2.5 miles before branching off, and can be combined with Iceberg for a roundtrip of 15 miles, (it’s only 10.7 miles on it’s own).
When you emerge from the tunnel, the views will take your breath away, (above picture). You look across the expanse of red rock down into Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River region of the park. In the far left peak, (Mount Merrit) of the above photo you see Old Sun Glacier in the distance.
You actually hike another quarter of a mile after the tunnel to see the glacier view, (the glacier isn’t visible from just outside the tunnel and most people miss the view). This little tidbit of info wasn’t listed in any of the hiking descriptions we looked at, (we heard it from a local) and we were so glad we went a little farther because it was the best view from the entire hike!
The trail works itself steadily upward through the forest for a ways before the views start. The trail grade was deceptive because it didn’t seem super steep, but it was definitely taxing my legs! Maybe it was because we had already hiked to Iceberg Lake that day, or that I’m out of shape that the trail seemed tiring, but you definitely want to account for a slower pace if you’re thinking of doing both hikes in the same day.
This is a beautiful red rock waterfall right before you reach Ptarmigan Lake.
Ptarmigan Lake has a stunning glacial color that changes depending on what angle you’re looking at it.
Here’s a view looking down from the tunnel at Ptarmigan Lake. By the time we got to the tunnel, it was later in the day, and this shot was taken pointing right into the sun. I found most of the views to be great even later in the day, and you definitely want to go to Iceberg first because by early afternoon the mountain cirque is already 100% shaded.
I’ll leave you with a couple of shots from the way back down. Isn’t the red rock trail stunning?