Outdoors

Access for All at Many Glacier’s Swiftcurrent Lake Trail

The 2.5-mile Swiftcurrent Lake Trail in the popular Many Glacier area is not currently ADA accessible

Glacier National Park is famous for its 700-plus miles of hiking trails, allowing visitors to transport themselves to jaw-dropping vistas and up close and personal experiences with some of the park’s namesake glaciers. However, it’s not always easy to get off the grid and out on the trail. Families with small children and people with injuries or disabilities don’t always have the opportunity to see some of the park’s most inspiring views.

The 2.5-mile Swiftcurrent Lake Trail in the popular Many Glacier area is not currently ADA accessible, but it is relatively flat. Easy access from the Many Glacier Hotel and the Grinnell Picnic area make it a great location to build a new accessible trail. In 2011, the first 1,300 feet from the picnic area were made accessible. Funding of this project would make the first 1,000 plus feet of the trail from the hotel accessible, along with two or three pullouts along the trail to rest, relax and enjoy the views of Swiftcurrent Lake and the countless surrounding peaks.

“After considerable market research, native material-based products have been located that provide a great accessible surface, are environmentally friendly, and have excellent longevity and ease of maintenance properties,” says Dan Jacobs, Trails Program Manager at Glacier National Park. “Though trail locations and transportation of materials make these types of projects expensive and labor intensive, this project would set the stage for eventual continuation around the entire lake in the years to come.”

This new, environmentally friendly product was used to resurface the crumbling paved section of the Trail of the Cedars this fall, with HK Contractors providing the labor and equipment to install the material. The Swiftcurrent Trail project will require 65 tons of material in order to resurface approximately 6,000 square feet of trail, which, when complete, will add to the National Park Service’s growing accessible trail network in a sustainable way.

Glacier National Park is known for its world-class trail network. This is one of the rare trails that visitors of all abilities can use. While federal support provides for day-to-day operations, this kind of project is only possible through partnership and community support.

To learn more about how you can help, visit glacierconservancy.org.

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