“It’s as impressive as Jasper,” he told me. As a proud Canadian sceptical of the beauty Montana had to offer, I wasn’t so sure about my husband’s statement.
We bought our tickets at West Glacier and entered Glacier National Park, taking our time to drive the scenic 80 km Going-to-the-Sun-Road that traverses the park from west to east. It crosses the Continental Divide through Logan Pass at 2026 metres, the highest point on the road. For those who don’t know, Glacier is the American side of Waterton Lakes National Park (and much, much larger).
I believe it was after looking at this view that I told my husband, “Okay, this is amazing.”
Full of (receding) glaciers, lakes, and argillite mountains, Glacier National Park is known as a hiker’s paradise. While you can certainly enjoy the beauty from the road, most of the park’s treasures lie further in. We stayed three days and did two hikes. While there are plenty of trails, the majority of the hikes are actually overnight backpacking trips. Given how many bear warnings there are, I was glad we weren’t doing any of those.
Hidden Lake Trail
Hidden Lake Trail is one of the shortest and most accessible trails to hike, with a long boardwalk section at the beginning to protect the ancient alpine meadow. The trail starts behind the Visitor Centre at Logan Pass.
Hiking to the overlook only takes an hour and a half or so. You could continue all the way down to the lake, but we figured the view was better from here and we wanted to save our legs from all those switchbacks. We stayed at the top for a while where we more than entertained by a family of mountain goats.
This mother and kid couldn’t have walked by in a more perfect spot with the lake below and the magnificent Bearhat Mountain towering in the background. My husband joked the park paid the goats to do that. Although you’re told to stay about twenty metres from wildlife, these goats came right up to us! Very docile creatures, though check out those muscles!
Just in case you think I’m partial to mountain goats, I also captured some other wildlife we saw on the trail, though these guys weren’t quite as exciting.
Upper Two Medicine Lake
This hike is more remote. My hands were practically clapping the whole time to scare off potential bears. (As an aside, we did this hike first and so the next day when we are about to step onto the populated boardwalk for Hidden Lake Trail, my husband turns to me, “By the way, you don’t need to clap here.”) He looked very relieved when I agreed.
Upper Two Medicine Lake isn’t hard terrain but it’s a full-day hike, walking along the long edge of Lower Medicine Lake until you climb through forest and meadow to reach the second lake. There are two waterfalls partway up called Twin Falls (though you can only see one in this pic).
It was a cloudier day so the idea of swimming in the lake wasn’t as appealing when we got there but I waded up to my knees and the Artist fished.
We could have easily stayed a week in this park. Fortunately, we were camping in East Glacier that wasn’t affected by the devastating Howe Ridge Fire, which ignited due to a thunderstorm the night before we left and is still going. It’s tragic as this is such a beautiful place that I hope others will get to and continue to enjoy.
Here are some of my other favourite views in the park:
And that’s a wrap on our camping trip of 2018!
Whoa, those views! And those furry unidentified critters (under your pictures of goats) might be marmots!