Hiking in Two Medicine: Aster Falls & Aster Park

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Glacier’s Two Medicine area offers some great views, some good hikes, and an excellent boat ride.  On this day, though, I hiked what turned out to be one of the less-exciting options — the trail to Aster Falls and Aster Park.  It’s not a bad hike, but I wouldn’t consider it to be among the best in the park, either.  So, consider your other options before committing a couple of hours here.

Location

The Two Medicine portion of Glacier National Park is located on the southeast side of the park, near East Glacier Park Village.  From East Glacier, take Montana 49 north to the turn-off for Two Medicine.  If you’re coming from Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll want to take US 89 south, then Montana 49 south.  Be aware that Montana 49 is a very scenic, but very curvy and poorly-maintained road, much of which needs to be driven at 25 miles per hour or less.

My Visit

This was my final morning in Glacier, and I wanted to hike one more trail before heading east on the Hi-Line.  Since I had been staying in East Glacier Park Village, it made sense to drive into Two Medicine and spend just a little while before hitting the road.

Sinopah docked at Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park.

The road into Two Medicine ends at the boat dock on Two Medicine Lake.  I took a ride on the Sinopah during my 2014 visit to the park, so I didn’t need to do that again.  Also, on this day, it was very windy, and the water was too choppy, so the boat wasn’t running.

The gusty weather also kept the kayaks and canoes off the water.

Since I was headed to the Aster Park trail, I bypassed the beach and continued on to the trail, which heads up the hill on the south side of the lake.

There weren’t many good views along this portion of the trail, but an occasional break in the trees did allow me to see some mountains, including Sinopah Mountain, the prominent peak at the western end of the lake.

Along the way to Aster Falls, there is a side-trail that leads out to Paradise Point.  I’m guessing it provides a nice view of the lake, but I didn’t go there.  On the way out, I decided I’d hit it on the way back, and on the way back, I didn’t have time, so I skipped it. 

Aster Falls

Aster Falls

Aster Falls is about 1.2 miles, one way, from the parking area.  Watch for it down a side trail (which wasn’t clearly marked — some other hikers I met along the trail said they had missed it entirely).  At the time I visited the falls, the lighting was very harsh, so the falls didn’t look very good to the camera.  However…

… the water is amazingly clear.  You’re looking at the bottom of the creek bed, looking straight down through several inches of water.

When I started the hike, I had planned to make Astor Falls my turnaround point.  But, once I saw the falls, I decided I should try to continue on to Aster Park.  The 8/10-of-a-mile stretch from the falls to the end of the trail is an exhausting climb (overall the trail gains 670 feet, but most of that elevation gain is here).  It’s a relief to finally reach…

Aster Park

… this sign, which marks the end of the official trail.  But then you realize, there isn’t a lot to see here.  Fortunately, you can hike beyond the sign…

… and there is a clearing here, which allows for some decent views of the mountains to the north…

… including the distinctive hook of Rising Wolf Mountain on the north side of the valley.

However, there isn’t any particularly great spot to enjoy the view.

Wander around, and you’ll be able to find an unobstructed view looking back towards the dock and parking area.

Since this was my final hike in Glacier (and because my feet were still aching from my hike on the Highline-Loop Trail three days earlier), I took some time to relax at Aster Park.  I pretty much had the place to myself.  But, I knew I had a long day of driving east across Big Sky Country, so I couldn’t stay here forever.

Back at Aster Falls, instead of taking the trail up to Aster Park, I could have continued along the south side of the lake, and eventually ended up at the Sinopah’s other dock.  Back in 2014, I took the boat to the west end of the lake, then hiked the Twin Falls Trail.  You can also hike on to Upper Two Medicine Lake, No Name Lake, or Dawson Pass, or you can hike back to the parking area on the north side of the lake, making a loop. 

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive into, and out of, Two Medicine:

The Bottom Line

Aster Falls isn’t the most exciting waterfall in Glacier, and Aster Park doesn’t provide the greatest views.  Both are okay destinations, but they probably shouldn’t be near the top of your list.   However, if you’re in Two Medicine and looking for a place to hike, this is an enjoyable route.

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