About Apikuni Falls
Apikuni Falls was perhaps the most striking waterfall that I was able to get close to during our visit to Glacier National Park. Not bad considering that I actually hadn’t planned on seeing this waterfall prior to the trip since I hadn’t known about it.
I guess a big reason why it wouldn’t be noticed by most visitors was that this waterfall was not visible from the Many Glacier Road as it was facing away from the valley. It wasn’t until I noticed it upon examining a map sign at the trailhead for Grinnell Glacier as well as the visitor center near St Mary did I realize that its trail was short enough to do without dramatically increasing the chances of a grizzly bear encounter. Only then did it even begin to cross my mind that I should do this hike.
Speaking of grizzlies, we happened to visit at a time when it was berry season so we knew that they were out in force looking to fatten up for the Winter. Julie was pregnant and her phobia of bears made it even a bigger issue on this trip. Basically any waterfalls that required hikes longer than two miles was probably pushing it. I ended up doing this hike solo, but even then I couldn’t be separated from her for too long.
In any case, this waterfall seemed to have two drops close together comprising its overall vertical drop, which I’m guessing was 150ft tall or so. There were also cascades continuing to tumble further downstream so depending on who you talk to, its overall height might be even taller.
From the trailhead shared with the trail to Poia Lake, the hike was said to be one mile each way. However, it was a pretty steep uphill mile for almost the entire hike so it definitely took a little out of me for such a relatively short day hike. The path started off out in the open facing some interesting cliffs rising high above the trees, but soon enough, the trail went straight into those trees (where I was concerned about surprising a grizzly, especially given how windy it was at the time).
It probably wasn’t until around 3/4-mile into the hike did I finally start to see the hidden Apikuni Falls. Just a short distance further, the trail climbed above most of the treeline, and from this position, I took a few more breathers looking back in the other direction across Many Glacier Valley. That was where I got some very scenic views of majestic snow-capped mountains surrounding the valley, remnants of what’s left of the glaciers here, and colorful lakes. I could only imagine how much more mindblowing the views would have been under clearer skies.
Eventually, the trail was side-by-side with the creek as I was approaching the falls before me, but some additional scrambling was required to closer to the falls. The closer I got to the falls, the steeper the scramble became. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how close to the falls you want to get depending on your comfort level, but it was definitely not for everyone.
From Babb, drive west on Many Glacier Road for about 10.25 miles to the Poia Lake car park and trailhead. From the trailhead, the trail to the lake forks to the right while the trail to the falls forks to the left. There are signposts there to help you pick the right path.
For context, Babb was 9 miles (15 minutes drive) north of St Mary and 209 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Helena. Across the US-Canada border, Babb was 38 miles (an hour drive) southeast of Waterton and 171 miles (under 3 hours) south of Calgary.
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