Running Eagle Falls

Glacier National Park / Two Medicine, Montana, USA

About Running Eagle Falls


Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2010-09-24
Date last visited: 2010-09-24

Waterfall Latitude: 48.4981
Waterfall Longitude: -113.35216

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Running Eagle Falls (also called Trick Falls) was probably one of the more unique waterfalls we’ve seen.

What made this waterfall so unusual was that we happened to see it when it acted as a waterfall that fell onto itself (if that makes any sense)!

Glacier_NP_349_09242010 - Running Eagle Falls
Running Eagle Falls

It turned out that this hinted at a natural bridge spanning at least the lower waterfall (though the natural bridge wasn’t immediately obvious at first).

As a result of this natural bridge, the majority of the creek fell into a sink hole that emerged out the other end of the natural bridge as the lower part of Running Eagle Falls.

However, the visibly thin column of water fronting that opening was the Running Eagle Falls’ overflow, and it was that drop that fell onto the lower drop making it appear as if this waterfall fell onto itself (see photo above).

So I’d imagine under low flow conditions, that extra column might disappear entirely as the rest of the creek would fall mostly unseen into that sink hole and natural bridge.

Glacier_NP_381_09242010 - Closer look at the Running Eagle Falls where we can see the bottom of the sink hole hidden just above the lower drop
Closer look at the Running Eagle Falls where we can see the bottom of the sink hole hidden just above the lower drop

Anyways, as a result of this special convergence of rare scenic features, this waterfall was a rare scenic gem and well worth the effort to visit the quiet Two Medicine Valley part of Glacier National Park.

Walking to Running Eagle Falls

The walk to Running Eagle Falls from the large signposted car park (see directions below) was a mostly flat 0.3 miles in each direction (or 0.6 miles out-and-back).

We found the walk to be pretty straightforward as the path was both wide and obvious.

Just before the trail traversed a couple of footbridges, there was a bench to enjoy a distant view of the falls with its mountainous backdrop.

Glacier_NP_324_09242010 - Julie on the mostly flat trail leading to the Running Eagle Falls
Julie on the mostly flat trail leading to the Running Eagle Falls

After crossing the bridges, the official path terminated at a viewing deck for a closer look at the Trick Falls.

I noticed that the trail used to continue beyond the designated viewing area, but I believe the park prohibited further access because I saw a section of unstable earth as well as a massive rock fall a little further.

Nonetheless, I’d imagine that had we been able to scramble further, we might be able to get to the banks of Running Eagle Creek and see the sinkhole causing the lower tier of the falls.

It turned out that despite the tranquility of Two Medicine Valley, this waterfall was pretty busy because the old school red tour buses would frequently stop here.

Authorities

Running Eagle Falls resides in Glacier National Park near St Mary in Glacier County, Montana. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Glacier_NP_316_09242010 - Looking towards mountains towering over the parking lot for the Running Eagle Falls
Glacier_NP_317_09242010 - Signage by the Running Eagle Falls Trailhead indicating that we were at the right spot
Glacier_NP_319_09242010 - Hiking to Running Eagle Falls on a flat and lightly forested path though it was a little muddy from the rains during our visit in September 2010
Glacier_NP_320_09242010 - Pretty Autumn colors were starting to come out in the foliage flanking the Running Eagle Falls trail
Glacier_NP_322_09242010 - Julie on the flat and wide path leading to the Running Eagle Falls
Glacier_NP_326_09242010 - View of Running Eagle Falls fronted by a bench as we were getting closer to the end
Glacier_NP_328_09242010 - Zoomed in distant look at the Running Eagle Falls
Glacier_NP_331_09242010 - Flat and wide open terrain before we crossed the footbridges over Running Eagle Creek
Glacier_NP_332_09242010 - Contextual look towards the Running Eagle Falls backed by gorgeous mountain scenery
Glacier_NP_335_09242010 - Another view of Running Eagle Falls from the rest bench
Glacier_NP_336_09242010 - Julie about to cross a footbridge over Running Eagle Creek
Glacier_NP_341_09242010 - Looking downstream from the footbridge
Glacier_NP_343_09242010 - Another contextual look at the Running Eagle Falls backed by a snow-capped mountain
Glacier_NP_346_09242010 - Julie checks out the Running Eagle Falls from the shores of the creek on our way to the end of the trail
Glacier_NP_358_09242010 - Long exposure look at the context of the Running Eagle Falls from the end of the official trail
Glacier_NP_366_09242010 - An even closer look at the Running Eagle Falls from the trail's end
Glacier_NP_373_09242010 - I went a little beyond the official viewing deck for this view of the Running Eagle Falls

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Running Eagle Falls sat in the Two Medicine Valley part of Glacier National Park, which we’ll describe the driving directions from St Mary since that was a common spot to stay at on the east side.

From St Mary, we drove south on US89 for about 19 miles until it junctioned with Route 49.

Glacier_NP_003_jx_09242010 - At the Running Eagle Falls parking lot with a parked old school red tour car that apparently roamed around the Two Medicine Valley area
At the Running Eagle Falls parking lot with a parked old school red tour car that apparently roamed around the Two Medicine Valley area

We then took Route 49 (which was a pretty rough paved road) for another 7 miles until it junctioned with Two Medicine Road on the right.

Taking Two Medicine Road, we then drove for about 5 miles to the large and well-signed car park for Running Eagle Falls.

To give you some context, St Mary was under 9 miles south of Babb and 203 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Helena. Across the US-Canada border, St Mary was 47 miles (an hour drive) southeast of Waterton and 180 miles (3 hours drive) south of Calgary.

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Right to left sweep starting at the falls and ending at the mountains further downstream


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Tagged with: glacier, national park, two medicine, montana, waterfall, rocky mountains, trick falls, natural bridge



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