The descent had begun to level out before noon, and the trail then started a slight elevation gain. Now that I was back below the treeline, I noticed how brilliant the fall colors were on the shrubs and grasses.
My route today was part of the North Circle Tourist Trail, one of three developed in the early years of the park by the Glacier Park Hotel Company, a subsidiary of the Great Northern Railway. The trails included a network of hotels, chalets, and campgrounds that allowed tourists to get a multi-day experience in the park.
Cosley Lake, where I was heading, and the Many Glacier area were primary stops on the 163-mile North Circle trail. The campsite at Cosley Lake, as well as one of the campsites at Red Eagle Lake where we camped on Day 155, were developed for the tourist trail as well-appointed campgrounds.
A description of the Cosley Lake campground makes it sound like a modern "glamping" resort of today. The site could handle up to 180 people and 200 horses. Campers slept in 10' by 12' tents that contained a small wood stove, two beds, a screen door, a washstand, and a chamber pot.
The operators of the three tourist trails struggled to keep them going during the Great Depression. The completion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road also diminished the trails' popularity. Curtailments during World War II were the final blow to the trail system. The National Park Service redesigned the facilities as park management practices evolved.