Hiking Two Medicine Trails At Glacier National Park

'Camp, Hike the Southeast' takes a trip out west to hike Rockwell Falls and Twin Falls in Glacier National Park.

Mike Rhodes | June 18, 2023

In September 2022 I flew out to Kalispell, Mt., picked up my rental car, and drove toward Two Medicine Campground, hoping I’d be lucky enough to claim a campsite. I arrived just in time to snag the last available site. Whew. Time to relax and get some rest after a 15-hour day of travel. I was ready for tomorrow and ready to get some miles under me.

It was my first morning waking up in Glacier National Park, and I wasn’t exactly sure what hikes I was going to attempt. People that know me, especially those that have traveled or camped with me, know that I am a “planner” of sorts. For this trip, I had done plenty of research, but other than knowing what areas of GNP I wanted to be within and which days I wanted to be in those places was about as much as I did. See, I was traveling solo so I could just wake up and make decisions for the day. I mean, sure, I had a Two Medicine trail map in my pocket that I printed before I arrived in Montana, I had highlighted several trails that I thought I would want to try on said map, but I hadn’t “planned” which trails. For me, this is considered “not” planning.

Daylight was beginning to take over the valley, so as my Banana Bread Oatmeal from RightOnTrek was cooking it was time to make decisions on the day. During my research—not planning—two different trails continued to get my interest, Rockwell Falls and Twin Falls. Rockwell is a seven-mile out-and-back trail with a trailhead at the South Shore parking area on Two Medicine Lake, while Twin Falls is a seven-mile out-and-back starting from the North Shore parking area. It felt like I couldn’t miss with either so I put my decision into the hands of a coin. Heads, Rockwell it was this morning.

With a belly full of warm oatmeal and my backpack ready I drove myself over to the South Shore parking area. It was still chilly so I started out with my lightweight jacket from REI, my son Michael’s Morgan County wrestling sock hat, but I was in shorts knowing the miles would heat me up quickly.

The trailhead for Rockwell Falls and several other trails is found in the corner of the parking lot close to the lake’s shore. I entered the trail and headed out for the falls. Less than a mile in I saw a spur trail for Paradise Point shooting off to the right so I ventured that way. Maybe five minutes down that trail, it ends on the lake’s shore. The point provides a great view of Two Medicine Lake and for the first time, I got a better perspective on the size of the lake itself.

I was only down at the point for a few minutes before I ventured back up the trail to the main trail where I passed a couple just entering the Paradise Point trail. Having been raised in the South I have a tendency to say hello to passersby, so I gave a “Good morning, you’ll love the view down there” as I turned right to continue my adventure to Rockwell Falls.

The next couple of miles were just stunning. Every time I turned a corner there was another amazing peak reaching into the Montana sky, each with distinctive edges and glacier-carved crevices which were highlighted by the early morning sun. The trail is a mix of open fields, small ponds and streams that are crossed using small wooden or swinging footbridges before entering more wooded areas.

At roughly 2.5 miles into the trail, it splits. Go left toward Rockwell Falls/Cobalt Lake/Lake Isabel or right toward Twin Falls/Upper Two Medicine Lake—but the sign sort of threw me off because what I had read showed the Twin Falls trailhead starting from the North Shore parking area. Immediately I knew I’d have a decision to make at that split when I was headed back.

I took the left toward Rockwell Falls, which was only about a mile out at this point. I still had only seen the two hikers back at the Paradise Point and hiking alone in bear country makes a fella a bit anxious. I waited until the park services closed for the season before making my trip with the main reason being I wanted to see fewer people, but at this moment I was realizing having another person making noise might not have been an awful idea. I had seen plenty of birds, squirrels, and the occasional mountain grouse so far this morning and hoped to not see a bear. “Hey Bear!” was my mantra.

I arrived at Rockwell Falls to find a steady stream of water spilling over the stream’s edge and falling 30 to 40 feet into the stream below. I decided it was the perfect spot to rest my legs and hydrate. I wasn’t as anxious about encountering a bear while I sat there, as I probably should have been, but the steady drip of the falls in the middle of nowhere brought some peace to me. Well, that peace and solitude lasted about 4 minutes before I encountered my second group of hikers on the trail. They came from the opposite side of the stream and whatever trail they used wasn’t on my trail map, but that was my sign to start heading back.

Rockwell Falls Two Medicine Glacier National Park

By the time I got back to the split in the trail, I had decided that I was going to take a left toward Twin Falls instead of going right toward the parking area. I guess I was still pumped about my first day in Glacier and all the beauty that I had seen in such a short time in the park, but one thing was for sure, I didn’t take the time to review the trail map and calculate what the distance was going to be by making that left.

The roughly two-mile spur from the south side of the lake toward the north side of the lake would eventually lead me to the west end. In the distance I can see the dock used by the Glacier Park Boat Company which offers tours of the lake during the season and the boat ride across the lake provides a big shortcut to the Twin Falls and Upper Two Medicine Lake trails if you wanted to shave off several miles. Even though this section of the trail is tighter with waist-high vegetation making it difficult to see much distance and amping up the bear anxiety (Hey Bear!), this section of the trail was by far the best stretch of the day so far. The vantage point from this trail gave an even better feel for the size of the lake than that I had seen earlier at Paradise Point.

As I arrived near the boat dock there is a spur off to the right that takes you to the dock with a place to sit and admire the lake. I had already logged more miles than I expected, so I passed that by and continued on. Shortly after the spur, this trail ends by teeing into the Upper Two Medicine Lake trail. You can go right and connect with a trail that will allow you to hike back to the campground on the north side of the lake, I went left toward Twin Falls.

Twin Falls in Two Medicine of Glacier National Park

It is less than a half mile to the spur trail on the right which takes you to Twin Falls. Like on most waterfall hikes, you will hear the falls long before you’ll see them, this was no different. The falling water got louder and louder, and then there it was. The volume of water spilling over Rockwell Falls was greater, but the 80-foot drop of Twin Falls was nearly double that of Rockwell. Best of all, I had this one to myself.

After resting for a bit, drinking some water and snacking on a granola bar, I pulled out the trail map and considered my options. Head back to camp or continue along Upper Two Medicine, which would add about 2.5 miles more back to camp from Twin Falls. Still full of energy from my first day, I decided to continue on. Much to my surprise, and maybe a blessing as I reflect back on this choice, I came upon a rope tied across the trail. In the middle of the rope was an orange sign that read “DANGER All area beyond this sign is closed because of bear danger.” That was more than enough for me! Campground here I come!

See this sign, turn around.

The trail I traveled heading back to camp was the busiest I had been on all day. I passed three or four groups that were headed out toward Twin Falls for a late afternoon hike. The most common exchange between each group, as we passed, became “Did you see any bear activity?” to which I was happy to say and hear “No.” This path back was similar to the last mile to Rockwell in that it was more forested and offered fewer distant views.

I walked and walked and about 3.5 miles after leaving Twin Falls I came upon Pray Lake, which is on the east end of Two Medicine Lake. You’ll find a connecting trail that takes you back to the North Shore parking area, which is connected to the campground. I encountered a few hikers that looked to have been coming back from some overnight backpacking trips as I sat on a bench resting my legs while overlooking Two Medicine Lake from the end I hadn’t enjoyed yet. I didn’t stay long as the sun was beginning to set lower in the sky, and I still had some steps in front of me before I could take off my shoes and soak my feet lakeside and sip something cold from my cooler.

I had to go through the campground and out to the parking lot at the South Shore to get the rental that I parked earlier in the morning. I noticed the campground had changed that afternoon. When I arrived on Saturday evening I was lucky and got the only site available, now I was going to be one of the only campers there for the night. I couldn’t have been happier about that.

My first day of exploring Glacier National Park was nearly finished. My planned seven-mile hike turned into just a bit more than 10 miles. I saw more critters than I did people, I hollered “Hey Bear” more than a hundred times, I didn’t have to use the bear spray attached to my belt, I saw two wonderful waterfalls and I was going to sleep really well after pouring some boiling water into a mylar pouch of dried ingredients that would turn into dinner. I call that a successful day.

I saw some great scenes this day. The kind of scenes you can only see by setting off down a hiking trail in Glacier National Park. I hope you get the opportunity to visit this place someday. If you do, go.

Two Medicine Valley Trail Map

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