Hidden Lake Trail at Glacier National Park, MT
As its name suggests, at the top of Going to the Sun Road is a beautiful lake nestled deep within a valley. Getting to it though requires a little bit of adventure. Just because it’s summer does not mean an easy hike.
I last visited Montana in early July, shortly after Logan’s Pass opened for the season. Logan’s Pass is the highest point on the Going to the Sun Road, the only road running completely through the park and connecting the East and the West park entrances. The road is opened up in stages depending upon the amount of snow cover remaining and the pace of plowing.
While the overlook to the lake is only about one and a half miles, the trail begins at over 6,600 feet elevation where the air is crsip but a thin. Add to that several feet of snow, and it can take a couple of hours to hike there and back again. Not to mention the occasional stops for the views, the marmots or the mountain goats. And if one is lucky, maybe a great visit by the elusive bighorn sheep.
In the past, I have hiked this trail with very little snow (in August), but in many places that July the posts marking the trails were the only thing indicating that there was an actual trail snaking around the mountainside. I learned years ago that at the end of summer, the tall stakes were put into the ground to mark the trails – and roads – for the next year when the plows came through. he beginning of the trail did have snow melted from the dirt path and the occasional wooden walkway. Incredibly there were meadows with green grass and yellow wildflowers where it seemed the snow must have been gone for weeks. But then suddenly there was nothing but white all around.
The adventure came from a narrow ledge around the side of a mountain. It's a tight fit in the best weather when the trail is clearly marked, but hidden under snow with a sloping snow covered ledge, it's a little unnerving. The hikers are considerate and one person or a small group will slowly file around the mountainside.
Hiking through all of that snow was more than worth it. There is a trail continuing down to the lake shore, though I am saving that for my next trip. The overlook warrants savoring the time to take in the view, breathing in crisp, cool mountain air. With the snow, the lake settled under patches of ice and yet green spaces peaked up through the snow, it's such a beautiful view and definitely demands a picture.
The other amazing about hiking in the snow in July? The fact that I was comfortable in a t-shirt late morning out under the sun. Be sure on the way out of the park to visit one of the restaurants for a slice of warm Huckleberry pie à la mode. It’s delicious and definitely earned after a morning hike!
Thanks to guest contributor Patricia Heatherington.
Patricia is a writer recently relocated to Dallas, TX. She is always looking for ways to travel more, or to explore whatever her city has to offer. Visit her at patriciaheatherington.com.