Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan East

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Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan East

Postby spinnaker » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:26 pm

I am reconsidering a bicycle tour of Glacier National Park. At first I dismissed it for a number of reasons. First there are the road restrictions to deal with. Yes I know there are no restrictions before June 15 but then again the road is not going to be passable so a West Glacier to East Glacier would still be out of the question.

Then there is the climbs and descents. While all I need to do is to summon the courage of making a descent, I did not want to have to commit to a climb I had to make. I am pretty fit for a 59 year old and ride a 1,000 to 2,000 miles a year, still I have never ridden at that altitude before so I don't know for certain I can make a ride that I need to make.

I then stumbled on to the free park shuttles. And they might just let me ride the park with peace of mind.

From my reading, it looks like East Glacier is a bit less crowded than West Glacier? My plan would be to arrive in West Glacier then take the shuttle to Logan pass with the bike. Then ride toward East Glacier and stay at one of the lodges on that side. I could then challenge myself by climbing up the less restricted east side.

I have seen some of the videos of people riding a bicycle on Road to the Sun. The descents look awfully scary. ;) How does the road coming down from Logan Pass to the west compare to coming down the road to the east? Are the drop offs a little less harrowing from one side to the other?

How bad is traffic in August or early September on the east side?
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby Jay w » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:12 pm

When you say, "Ride towards East Glacier and stay in one of the lodges on that side," have you looked at the route between St. Mary and East Glacier? The road out of St. Mary is quite a climb (harder in my opinion than climbing from St. Mary to Logan). It's steeper and quite a kick in the pants, although I've never done on a bike. I know the car stuggles with it. Also, that road doesn't have a shoulder, so traffic is going to have to deal with you. And, the climbing is just starting. It's a hilly route. I think that would be a challenging ride, even for the young and fit.

I've ridden the east side to Logan, and it's a long climb, but not too demanding. Coming down is fun and not scary (in my opinion). I think the west side is more vertical and I'd bet it's more incline, and not much road width (so cars have to deal with you). I think that side also has time limits on when you can be on the road, but even without those limits, I'd start at sun rise. I'd bet that the west side may also qualify as scary (coming down), but it's also quite scenic.

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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby daschmit » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:23 pm

The east side is more open, which also means that it can be, and often is, QUITE windy. Furthermore, to reiterate Jay w's point, there were, and presumably still are, runaway truck ramps on the approach route to St. Mary (U.S. 89 North), due to the steep gradients.
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby PeteE » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:35 am

I remember when I gave former chatter DaveC's wife "M" a ride to Apgar to start a bike ride.
I dropped her off and went on to hike up at Logan Pass. I was a bit startled when I saw "M" hoofing it up the trail to the overlook.
She told me she had stopped to hike to Avalanche Lake on the way to riding to Logan Pass.
After walking back down to Logan parking she rode on to Rising Sun campground where she shared my tent site.
The next morning "M" was off and riding to East Glacier to meet Dave. :shock:

I think it's fair to say that Dave and M were extraordinarily "fit" people.
Dave was/is also an expert at "bushwhacking" off trail hiking, pack rafting, and skiing.
They did many of the difficult and long hikes and backpacks in GNP when they lived here---including many "off trail" trips through some of GNP's most remote areas.
I remember one Spring, in May I think, when Dave and a couple park ranger gals biked from Avalanche to Packers Roost, then hiked on to Waterton! :shock:
Gotta be nice to be that fit and capable.

Those of you who like that stuff look at some of his posts here and on his website.

https://bedrockandparadox.com/

pete :wink:

EDIT ADD:

To answer a couple of your questions...

From my reading, it looks like East Glacier is a bit less crowded than West Glacier?

My plan would be to arrive in West Glacier then take the shuttle to Logan pass with the bike. Then ride toward East Glacier and stay at one of the lodges on that side.

If you don't already have a reservation in St Mary or East Glacier, you're already in trouble.

I could then challenge myself by climbing up the less restricted east side.

The GTTS Road on the East side is every bit as crowded as the West side. The difference is that the road on the East side is much less steep. And bikers will at least "feel" the road is "roomier" although I don't know how much wider the East side road is, if any.'There is still LOTS of traffic to contend with.


I have seen some of the videos of people riding a bicycle on Road to the Sun. The descents look awfully scary. ;) How does the road coming down from Logan Pass to the west compare to coming down the road to the east? Are the drop offs a little less harrowing from one side to the other?

I'm not a biker, and Jay described the roads accurately. Coming down the West side is far more hazardous imo. More traffic and less road room for everyone--bikers and cars alike. Many stretches where there is little or no room to "bail" if you get in trouble.
Frankly, I hate driving on the West side when bikers are on the road...another reason I get on the road early. Much less grade on the East side. The elevation change is about half that of the West side.
As just a casual cyclist, I would never ride the West side at a time when cars are on the road. This time of year is great after they clear the snow, but before cars area allowed.


How bad is traffic in August or early September on the east side?

The traffic in August and early September(peak season) for the last few years has been BAD, and I fully expect the same for this year--BAD.
And it will be BAD everywhere
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby Ear Mountain » Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:50 am

daschmit wrote:The east side is more open, which also means that it can be, and often is, QUITE windy. Furthermore, to reiterate Jay w's point, there were, and presumably still are, runaway truck ramps on the approach route to St. Mary (U.S. 89 North), due to the steep gradients.

The runaway truck ramps have been abandoned for quite some time. They are there but no longer maintained. Also there are guardrails blocking at least one of them.
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby paul » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:03 pm

Cycling down the west side of Logan pass would be more dangerous in my opinion because of how narrow the road is and how frequent the road turns. Also, there will likely be more debri on the road since you'll be on the right side next to the rock wall.

As far as getting a reservation on the east side, I think there are still places that have availability (at least in East Glacier). I just called today and reserved a room in East Glacier for the end of July.
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby Ear Mountain » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:02 pm

Reading through this I'm wondering if spinnaker (the OP) is confused.

Just in case I'll add this comment. Going-to-the-Sun Road ends on the west side of Glacier in West Glacier. On the east side the road ends in Saint Mary.
The town of East Glacier is 31 miles south of Saint Mary via US 89 and the Looking Glass Road.
Spinnaker, I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your original post.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road Shuttles travel between the Apgar Transit Center on the west side and Logan Pass. Other shuttles provide the link from Logan Pass to Saint Mary.
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby spinnaker » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:32 pm

PeteE wrote:I remember when I gave former chatter DaveC's wife "M" a ride to Apgar to start a bike ride.
I dropped her off and went on to hike up at Logan Pass. I was a bit startled when I saw "M" hoofing it up the trail to the overlook.
She told me she had stopped to hike to Avalanche Lake on the way to riding to Logan Pass.
After walking back down to Logan parking she rode on to Rising Sun campground where she shared my tent site.
The next morning "M" was off and riding to East Glacier to meet Dave. :shock:

I think it's fair to say that Dave and M were extraordinarily "fit" people.
Dave was/is also an expert at "bushwhacking" off trail hiking, pack rafting, and skiing.
They did many of the difficult and long hikes and backpacks in GNP when they lived here---including many "off trail" trips through some of GNP's most remote areas.
I remember one Spring, in May I think, when Dave and a couple park ranger gals biked from Avalanche to Packers Roost, then hiked on to Waterton! :shock:
Gotta be nice to be that fit and capable.

Those of you who like that stuff look at some of his posts here and on his website.

https://bedrockandparadox.com/

pete :wink:

EDIT ADD:

To answer a couple of your questions...

From my reading, it looks like East Glacier is a bit less crowded than West Glacier?

My plan would be to arrive in West Glacier then take the shuttle to Logan pass with the bike. Then ride toward East Glacier and stay at one of the lodges on that side.

If you don't already have a reservation in St Mary or East Glacier, you're already in trouble.

I could then challenge myself by climbing up the less restricted east side.

The GTTS Road on the East side is every bit as crowded as the West side. The difference is that the road on the East side is much less steep. And bikers will at least "feel" the road is "roomier" although I don't know how much wider the East side road is, if any.'There is still LOTS of traffic to contend with.


I have seen some of the videos of people riding a bicycle on Road to the Sun. The descents look awfully scary. ;) How does the road coming down from Logan Pass to the west compare to coming down the road to the east? Are the drop offs a little less harrowing from one side to the other?

I'm not a biker, and Jay described the roads accurately. Coming down the West side is far more hazardous imo. More traffic and less road room for everyone--bikers and cars alike. Many stretches where there is little or no room to "bail" if you get in trouble.
Frankly, I hate driving on the West side when bikers are on the road...another reason I get on the road early. Much less grade on the East side. The elevation change is about half that of the West side.
As just a casual cyclist, I would never ride the West side at a time when cars are on the road. This time of year is great after they clear the snow, but before cars area allowed.


How bad is traffic in August or early September on the east side?

The traffic in August and early September(peak season) for the last few years has been BAD, and I fully expect the same for this year--BAD.
And it will be BAD everywhere



Too late for reservations for 2019 already???
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby spinnaker » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:35 pm

Ear Mountain wrote:Reading through this I'm wondering if spinnaker (the OP) is confused.

Just in case I'll add this comment. Going-to-the-Sun Road ends on the west side of Glacier in West Glacier. On the east side the road ends in Saint Mary.
The town of East Glacier is 31 miles south of Saint Mary via US 89 and the Looking Glass Road.
Spinnaker, I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your original post.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road Shuttles travel between the Apgar Transit Center on the west side and Logan Pass. Other shuttles provide the link from Logan Pass to Saint Mary.


Nope I understand that Going-to-the-Sun Road foes between West Glacier and St. Mary but thanks for the clarification
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby spinnaker » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:42 pm

Jay w wrote:When you say, "Ride towards East Glacier and stay in one of the lodges on that side," have you looked at the route between St. Mary and East Glacier? The road out of St. Mary is quite a climb (harder in my opinion than climbing from St. Mary to Logan). It's steeper and quite a kick in the pants, although I've never done on a bike. I know the car stuggles with it. Also, that road doesn't have a shoulder, so traffic is going to have to deal with you. And, the climbing is just starting. It's a hilly route. I think that would be a challenging ride, even for the young and fit.

I've ridden the east side to Logan, and it's a long climb, but not too demanding. Coming down is fun and not scary (in my opinion). I think the west side is more vertical and I'd bet it's more incline, and not much road width (so cars have to deal with you). I think that side also has time limits on when you can be on the road, but even without those limits, I'd start at sun rise. I'd bet that the west side may also qualify as scary (coming down), but it's also quite scenic.

Jay



I would not ride between East Glacier and St. Mary. As well as the climb, I have been warned about the speed of the traffic along that road too.
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Re: Bicycle east or west side? / Logan Pass West to Logan Ea

Postby PeteE » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:05 pm

Sorry, I didn't see 2019 in your original post.

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