Glacier National Park — Part Two
This summer we set out for an almost four week trek through some of the most incredible scenery in the Western United States. After Jackson and the Tetons, we made the short trip to Yellowstone National Park. From Yellowstone, we drove to Glacier National Park, our first time in Montana and our first time at Glacier. We spent a week at the West Glacier KOA and enjoyed several days in the park.
To kick off the second half of our time in Glacier, we set aside a day to hike to Avalanche Lake via the Trail of the Cedars. The hike is a 4.6-mile round trip with 500 feet of elevation gain, making it a moderate hike suitable for hikers of all levels. The trail offers spectacular views of the park’s towering mountains, lush forests, and crystal-clear streams, making it a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast. This was the busiest hike we took while we were in Glacier, but it was also one of our favorites. Because we were there so early in the season, waterfalls cascaded down the sides of the mountains surrounding the lake. The water was really, really cold, but after a solid two hours of climbing up gentle hills, we all wanted to dunk our feet for a few minutes.
The following day, we drove the east side of the Going to the Sun Road. This 18.6-mile stretch of road offers some of the most stunning views in the park, yet is a bit easier to drive than the West Side of the GTTS road. There are still steep cliffs and narrow roads and epic views, but after a bit, the road widens and the drops are not as dramatic. A nice change, for sure. The East Side of the park suffered fire damage in 2015, so driving through this section of the park is a lesson in forest recovery. The charred trees are still standing, but you can see the forest coming back at their feet. We visited during wildflower season and saw so many butterflies and flowers.
We drove all the way to St. Mary’s Visitor Center and explored there for a bit. It’s always fun to collect another passport stamp, and even though it was our last day in the park, we watched the film giving an overview of the park. We visited the excellent gift shop an checked out the displays, and generally stretched our legs before the return trip.
Our final hike in Glacier started at the Sunrift Gorge Parking Lot. The trail to Baring Falls is a 0.8-mile round trip and is an easy, if very sunny, hike. The trail offers stunning views of St. Mary Lake, and lots of flowers, birds and butterflies. The falls themselves are a stunning sight, with water cascading down the rocks creating a much needed natural air conditioning on a sunny day. The hike can continue past Baring, to two more waterfalls, but we were running out of day, and so only made it to the first falls.
As we passed back by Logan’s Pass, I decided I needed to try to get one more glimpse of either bighorn sheep or mountain goats. The guys were done, so I took a solo mom trek a short way back on the Hidden Lake Trail. A bighorn sheep was just waiting for me, posing for some last epic pictures and video footage.
Our planning resources:
- Moon Glacier National Park
- Falcon Guide Best Easy Day Hikes in Glacier National Park
- GuideAlong Tours — Glacier National Park
Music from this video, all from Epidemic Sound:
- Talking Trees by Max Kershaw
- Down by the Creek by Victor Lundbert
- Red Cedar by View Points