Glacier National Park officials are again reminding visitors that off-trail travel through critical winter range areas is prohibited through May 15 -in an effort to protect wildlife. Travel is limited to designated trails throughout specific areas of the park, including the North Fork, Lake McDonald and St. Mary areas.Off-trail hiking is prohibited in certain areas between December 1st and May 15th each year. Signs are posted at public access points in these locations.
The following closures are listed in the Glacier National Park 2012 Compendium:1) To protect seasonal habitat and congregation of grizzly bears, the following two off trail areas of the park may be temporarily closed to public travel based upon staff observations of grizzly bear concentrations as defined by the Bear Management Plan:
* Mt. Altyn/Mt. Henkel Bear Management Area which is defined as all areas above the Iceberg/Ptarmigan trail east of Ptarmigan Falls, above the Many Glacier Hotel access trail between the Iceberg/Ptarmigan trail and the Hotel T, and above the Many Glacier Road east of the Hotel T and Appekuny Creek to the Mt. Altyn/Mt. Henkel ridgeline.
* The Apgar Mountains; with the exception of the Apgar Lookout Trail and Flathead Ranger Station Road.
2) To protect rare mountain capshell limpet, all water entry into Lost Lake is prohibited. This includes, but not limited to, swimming, bathing, wading, fishing (except from shore), and boat launching.
3) To protect seasonal habitat for congregating bighorn sheep and mountain goats (important for post-winter survival and pre-birthing security), as well as the likelihood of grizzly bear presence, the following off-trail area of the park may be temporarily closed to public travel based upon staff observations:
* Mt. Altyn/Mt. Henkel Bear Management Area (see above for boundaries).
4) To protect ungulates (deer, elk, moose, sheep) from disturbance on winter ranges within Glacier National Park, the following areas are closed to off-trail travel from December 1 to May 15, and will be defined using recognizable landmarks and/ or GPS UTM waypoints using NAD83 Datum. Signs will be posted at public access points describing the affected area and dates of closure (see link below for boundary details):
* The North Fork area.
* Lake McDonald area (the South Boundary Trail will remain open during this closure, but no off-trail travel is permitted).
* The Apgar Mountains
* The St. Mary area
* The Two Dog Flats area
* The Rising Sun area; The Going-To-The-Sun Road, Rising Sun access roads (Picnic area, boat ramp, campground, and concession), and Otokomi Trail are not affected by this closure.
For more details and other closures impacting lake access due to nesting bald eagles, click onto the Glacier National Park 2012 Compendium (PDF).
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs