Hike to Avalanche Lake: Glacier National Park
Yesterday was bound to be an amazing day. As one of the first days of summer, it was forecast to be in the 80s with clear blue skies and beautiful dry Montana air. So what else could we possibly do but make the 45 minute drive to Glacier National Park and explore a different hiking trail!?
Because the park is not fully open yet, and the 50 mile Going to the Sun Road still has snow in parts, the park was only open as far north as Avalanche campground. So we drove into the park, passed Lake MacDonald and about four miles later found a spot in the still-not-open campground. We headed for the Trail of the Cedars which leads to the Avalanche Trail which leads to Avalanche Lake. The writeup indicated the trail to the lake was a “moderate” five-mile round trip hike which sounded perfect for the day.
We were only on the Trail of the Cedars for a short time. It’s a wide wood-covered flat trail that is also accessible by wheelchairs. It meanders through a beautiful forest of cedars, rocky mountain maple, and many coniferous trees. If you’ve never had the pleasure of wandering near Cedars, you’re in for a treat! Many of the trees on this trail were huge, both in terms of height and width. If you want to feel tiny in the grand scheme of the universe, one way to do it is to visit a forest with huge trees. And the trees also provided natural air conditioning – it was much cooler walking on the trails than in the direct sunshine. If you want an easy and enjoyable trail, try this one!
But our real goal was to reach Avalanche Lake via the Avalanche trail. Past hikers had indicated the five-mile round trip was worth it in terms of the views. Other hikers indicated there were a lot of humans on the trail. We prefer being the only ones on a trail so were a little concerned about crowds, but needn’t have worried. While there were a lot of people who were parking and hiking at the same time as we were, the woods were so large we had plenty of room to spread out.
So how was the Avalanche Trail? Wonderful. I would definitely recommend it.
The first part of the trail was heavily forested with tons of green moss growing on the ground. I felt in parts as though I was walking through a primeval forest or perhaps in one where leprechauns could jump out at any moment. It was quite magical.
At the start of our hike, the trail wound past a rushing river which was very strong with the snow melt that was still pouring off the mountains.
(PS, to those of you who are great at videos, I admit I took this in the portrait mode instead of landscape which is a no-no… but it still captures the sound and sight that greeted us!)
Along the way, there were several beautiful spots to stop and take photos or just take in the scene. There were huge rocks, places to sit along the way, an area where it looked like a windstorm knocked over dozens of trees, and several peek-a-boo sights of mountains.
So the journey was quite enjoyable. But what of the goal? We did make it to the lake with little trouble. While the trail does gain about 740 feet in elevation, the upward portions are relatively gentle and well cleared. It took us about an hour to make it to the end, and less than that to return. The walk was totally worth the end result which was a gorgeous lake, multiple mountains and three waterfalls pouring off the distant hills.
So, pack up your backpack, get your hiking boots on, and get over to Glacier National Park. You’ll be happy you did.
For information on other Montana hiking, check out this link. If you love this area so much you want to move here, call me! And if you’re already here but would like to upsize or downsize, call me! I’d be happy to help. 406-270-3667 and firstname.lastname@example.org.