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Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park is one of three popular lakes close together and sharing the Two Medicine name. The middle lake, usually referred to as Two Medicine Lake, is the site of a popular campground and a ranger station. The Two Medicine area was one of the most visited parts of the park until Going To The Sun Road was constructed in 1932. A hint of that early popularity can be seen in the form of the Two Medicine Store at the main campground; the store is part of the old chalet system built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway to provide visitor services. Originally, an entire complex of dining hall and guest cabins surrounded the chalet. President Franklin D Roosevelt gave a national radio address from the building in 1934. The building is designated a National Historic Landmark and still serves lake visitors today.
Although Two Medicine Lake charms Glacier National Park visitors, the lake was known and revered long before European adventurers came to the area. According to a book written about Glacier National Park in 1919, the name Two Medicine is actually a shortened form of Two Medicine Lodge, the name local Native American tribes called the lake and the river connecting it to Lower Two Medicine Lake. Because the Blackfeet had twice held their Medicine Lodge ceremony on the river, they called the river Two Medicine Lodge River in their native tongue. Lower Two Medicine Lake lies mostly outside of park boundaries on Blackfeet Reservation land. The area is still considered sacred by the native people.
Because more park visitors now visit the better-known Glacier attractions near Going To The Sun Road, Two Medicine area remains quiet and is the chosen destination of many serious hikers who explore the park each summer. Several popular trails begin at Two Medicine Lake, some of which can be reduced to very short walking distance by taking the tour boats plying the water daily. Canoes and row boats can also be rented at the campground, so visitors can paddle the lake themselves. A boat launch is available.
Glacier National Park has not published the surface area of the main lakes within the park, but estimates show Two Medicine Lake to be around 400 acres. The lake is surrounded by scenic peaks, many of which are a red hue that reflect on the water. The lake is often choppy from winds, but that doesn't stop the few fly fishermen that have discovered what great fishing is to be found here for brook trout and rainbow trout. Fishing pressure is light and the trout are eager to bite. Other lakes in the immediate area are also decent trout waters, and many can be reached on foot. A proper fishing license must be carried, although no special fishing permit is required within Glacier National Park. The required Park Pass will be all that is needed.
Many hiking trails fan out from the Two Medicine hub. Both a North Shore Trailhead and a South Shore Trailhead provide the starting point for several trails. Two of the hikes can be shortened considerably by using the tour boat to reach the nearest point on the North Shore Trail, where Twin Falls is less than a mile from the lakeshore. The boat also cuts almost three miles off the total hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake. The shore trail to Running Eagle Falls is wheelchair accessible. Also called 'Trick Falls', Running Eagle Falls is particularly spectacular in spring and early summer when snow melt increases the amount of water to the point where the falls flow both through the mouth of a cave and over the lip of the gorge to form one waterfall. Other more strenuous hikes lead adventurers to stunning views of several well-known peaks, including Appistoki Peak, Sinopah Mountain, Painted Tepee Peak, Pumpelly Pillar and Rising Wolf Mountain. Those backcountry hikers in good athletic condition can hike the Continental Divide from Dawson Pass to Pitamakan Pass as a loop and return to Two Medicine Lake. Some of the trails intersect other trails and can lead the well-equipped hiker to other trails along the Divide.
The main Two Medicine Campground is an 'improved' campground during the regular season with potable water and flush toilets. There are no showers or electricity. During the several-week extended season, much of the campground is still open but water and toilets are not available. There are backcountry campsites along the trail near Upper Two Medicine Lake and Pumpelly's Pillar. Other backcountry sites are located along the more difficult trails, but no services are available. The area is filled with wildlife; those taking the tour boat may see moose drinking from the lake or an occasional grizzly or black bear. In spring wildflowers decorate the meadows and waterfowl swim on the lake. This is a place no one should visit without binoculars and camera; just the play of sunlight across the many peaks begs for yet another photograph.
Lodging in the park consists of campgrounds and lodges operated by the park's concessionaires. Outside of the park, nearby towns offer all sorts of lodgings from bed-and-breakfasts to guest cabins. A few motels provide modern accommodations along the main highways. Private and Forest Service campgrounds can also be found outside the park's border. East Glacier Park Village offers both lodgings and restaurants for those who prefer civilization at least once a day. The larger town of Browning farther east along US 2 holds the full complement of restaurants including fast food, hotels, medical services and leisure activities. Private vacation rentals are numerous in the area around East Glacier Park Village. Everything nature-loving vacationers could want is available in the area just outside the park. Come visit beautiful Two Medicine Lake. You will be amazed at the scenery, the lovely lake and nature's bounty.
*Surface area is an estimate.
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