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Apikuni Falls, Montana

Apikuni Falls is located within Montana’s Glacier National Park. In fact, it is in one of the most popular regions of the park near the Many Glacier area.

The falls can be found in a spot with elevations around the 5,500-feet mark, close to Altyn Peak just east of Natahki Lake, and also near St Mary in Glacier County. Many visitors to the national park consider this 150-foot cascade as one of the most striking waterfalls in the region. 

This is helped in many ways by the dramatic-looking red-green colors within many of the rocks, a transformation that apparently came about during the Precambrian era.

The resulting rocks composed of the iron-rich, ancient, oxidized mudstone of the Belt Sea surround the falls today.

apikuni falls

Getting Closer to the Apikuni Falls

From the main, shared trailhead up to the falls you are looking at a mile each way, although this is steep terrain. So how closely you want to view the falls depends largely on how high you are prepared to go.

The surrounding regions of the falls are somewhat out in the open aside from the cliffs rising high over the trees. You will more than likely head straight into those trees, where you might bear in mind the previous grizzly bear habitat warnings.

It will likely take the best part of three-quarters of the mile or so before you can even get any real decent glimpses of the Apikuni Falls. But there they are–set in the recesses of a small hanging canyon.

Eventually, if you do get up as far as you can you’ll end up virtually side-by-side with the creek as you approach the falls. The really intrepid hiker or photograph hunter may well scramble yet further and get fairly close to the base of the waterfall.

Hiking the Apikuni Falls

A hike proper to the Apikuni Falls is a 2-mile, out & back trail—in simple terms. It’s a well-known and popular hike of moderate difficulty, although easily achievable for the majority of hikers. This is also a well-known bear region so come prepared.

The route starts out from the Poia Lake Trailhead, which is just less than 3 miles from the park’s Many Glacier entrance. You should see the trailhead sign for the falls on the Many Glacier Road to your right, where you start out from.

After 0.2 miles you will come to a left-hand spur trail, but you have to keep with the straight to be on track to the falls. The trail takes you through an aspen-fir forest as it gains in elevation, and at 0.3 miles along the trail, you’ll come to a fork.

You can try honing in on your deeper intuition before deciding which path to take—but either way, they reconnect later along the trail. The left fork takes you through somewhat more open terrain and the right along a forested route.

You’ll encounter a touch of rocky terrain once the trail has reconnected and you’ll be privy to views of the surrounding mountains–some of which are in the 10,000-foot range. When the rocky stretch begins to come to an end you should have within your sights some decent views of the Apikuni Falls.

Once you’ve taken in all the breathtaking views you can handle, it’s simply a case of making your way back down the same route that you came at your own pace.

Camping near the Apikuni Falls

camping

If you really fancy spending more time in the vicinity of the Apikuni Falls and are up for some camping, the Many Glacier Campground is only 2 miles from the trailhead.

Don’t expect to turn up and find a space here so easily though as this is the main campground in Glacier National Park. If you want to have any chance of a spot you’ll need to be there early.

Alternatively, the Saint Mary Campground is only a 25-minute drive down the road and fills up slightly later than the one at Many Glacier.

The Source of Apikuni Falls

Apikuni Falls flows out of Natahki Lake, the impressive-looking body of water that lies in a glacially carved cirque. The lake is literally set between Altyn Peak and Mount Henkel, both of which are around the 8,000-feet mark. Apikuni Mountain, which stands at 9,068 feet, is also nearby.

Natahki Lake could be described as one of the national park’s lesser-known gems. From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, this lake is not necessarily up there with some of the park’s more obvious ones, but it still provides some decent scenery as well as a most enjoyable half-day hike.

Certainly, if you are looking for a bit of peace then this is the lake for you. Plenty of spots ideal for a lunch picnic are dotted around, especially for anyone on their way up to some of the higher peaks.

The Bottom Line

The Apikuni Falls rank as another one of the endless ‘hidden treasures’ within the scenic Glacier National Park. This is added to by the fact that the falls are not immediately apparent to most visitors, who often end up more than pleased to have found their particular spot.

The Apikuni Falls tend to carry a sense of the classic Many Glacier Area quality. These waterfalls and some of the other stunning natural features in and around the area are never likely to be out of place on anyone’s ‘must-see-and-do’ list.

In fact, they are appealing to anyone who is remotely interested in the great outdoors and some of the natural wonders they have to offer.

 

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