After months of wishing, waiting, and planning, we finally had the opportunity to explore Glacier National Park this past summer. Shared a few highlights from our 4-day trip below.
Round Trip Distance: 7.6 miles (with boat access), 11 miles (without boat access)
Hiking Time: 4 hours (with a boat), 6 hours (without a boat)
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
Elevation Gain: 1,840 feet
Why We Love It: We took the trail by foot (without boat access) and passed by 3 beautiful alpine lakes (Swiftcurrent Lake, Josephine Lake, Grinnell Lake), caught glimpses of bighorn sheep, and had a view of glacier-carved mountains the whole way through. This trail leads to one of the last remaining active glaciers in the park. Seeing the glacier in real life was an emotional experience –– we were lucky to witness it.
Hidden Lake Overlook
Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Elevation Gain: 460 feet
Why We Love It: The scene that surrounds Logan Pass is incredible –– wildlife, wildflowers, alpine mountains, and the big open sky. The trail is easy and well maintained with boardwalks from beginning to end. We hiked to Hidden Lake Overlook near sunset, and there are just no words for the sights and colors experienced. The highlight of the trip was having a mountain goat trot alongside us, then meet us at the end for the view. It was such a sweet moment!
Tip: Hike another 1.2 miles to Hidden Lake.
The Highline Loop
Round Trip Distance: 11.8 miles
Hiking Time: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,950 feet
Why We Love It: Definitely one of our favorites because of the views alone. The first 7 miles from Logan Pass is called the “Garden Wall,” the name for a narrow trail which hugs the wall of the mountain, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding alpine landscape. It’s a wonderful place to see mountain goats scaling walls and chipmunks running from flower to flower. There is also a small refuel store at the chalet (7 miles in) with a nice picnic area that overlooks the area.
Tip: Start the trail at Logan Pass and hike to The Loop (where you’ll park your car) to avoid a strenuous incline at the start of the hike.
Two Medicine Lake
Why We Love It: We stopped by Two Medicine Lake on our last day in Glacier National Park. Didn’t have much time to enjoy a hike or a boat ride, but we did get to sit by the dock and have lunch by the shore with a view of the alpines and the blue water lake one last time.
Our final thoughts:
Our time in Glacier National Park was an unforgettable one. Beautiful as it was, we couldn’t help but question how it was possible a park that used to boast a large number of 150 glaciers now only have 25 active glaciers remaining –– which are said to disappear within 10 years. Can you believe that? In 10 years, our future generations will no longer be able to see what we saw or experience what we enjoyed. In 10 years, we won’t see the park as it was, ever again. Climate change is real. It’s happening in our lifetime and Glacier National Park is proof of that.
The summer of 2017 was also met with a lot of large wildfires in the western United States. In Glacier National Park alone, visitors were evacuated from the Lake McDonald area, nearby trails, and parts of the Going-To-The-Sun Road due to the Sprague Fire. Thankfully no one was hurt, however, the fire burned down the historic Sperry Chalet, one of the remaining two chalets in the backcountry. Waterton National Park, immediately north of Glacier National Park, closed its park for a few days due to the raging fires in Canada. We saw and felt the effects of the fire as we hiked the trails above. At times, it even got difficult to breathe. Enjoying the view was hard when we knew what was happening. There were many times we’d say out loud, “Wow, this looks beautiful, but I’m trying to imagine what it’s like without all the smoke.”.
It’s not enough to just visit a national park, enjoy your time, take photos, and leave. It’s important to act on and spread awareness for the preservation of the natural places around us so that others can enjoy it too. If you loved a place, wouldn’t you want it to be there for you to visit again?
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.
Jennifer and Vivian