A view from the Wild Goose Island Overlook puts visitors into an instant dream state.
Glacier National Park in Montana is steadfastly considered to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. John Muir once said that it holds “…the best care-killing scenery on the continent.” The late Robin Williams called it God’s backyard. In 1890, naturalist and historian George Bird Grinnell described it as the “Crown of the Continent”—a two-tiered idea acknowledging the triple headwaters of the continent that flow out to three seas, and mountainous formations that decorate the rooftop of Big Sky Montana.
For millennia, the movement of glaciers in this area of the Rockies has carved out valleys and lakes while pushing peaks, cirques, ridges, and fins into the sky. Atop those peaks are snow and glaciers (which are sadly disappearing); and surrounding them are sub-alpine conifer forests and vast meadow slopes that create a wonderful home and habitat for wildlife. The grizzly bear—whose population of 300-strong beckons people from all over the world for a sighting—is the most recognizable species of them all. As you dig in, you will start to see creatures that are essential to the strength of the ecosystem including scores of birdlife, elk, moose, and mountain goat—the last of which has become a symbol for the park.
All of that is the who, what, where—what follows is the why and how…
From January to March, Glacier is a premier destination for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and for other winter sports. In the fall, autumn leaves burst with color complementing the epic mountain scenery. During summer, people come to see wildlife, go camping, fish and boat on perfect glacial lakes, and hit the ground to explore a trail network surpassing 700 that are consistently maintained. Long-distance treks, day hikes, wilderness walks, and backpacking adventures transcend visitors to that carefree state of being that Muir spoke of so long ago. Along these trails, visitors find out why Glacier is regarded to be among Earth’s most lovely places with every sublime step. This environment is truly a wilderness hiker’s paradise. In that spirit, we are sharing 5 epic hikes in America’s 10th national park.
Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the best places to hike in the world.
Beginning at the Trail of the Cedars off of Going-to-the-Sun Road is this awesome, 4.5 mile half-day hike that is totally unique in the park. The first section crosses an elevated boardwalk through ancient red cedar and western hemlock trees, and onward through dense vegetation of ferns and mosses. Where the forest-walk ends, the moderate hike begins as you ascend aside a roaring Avalanche Creek as it rushes downward through a narrow gorge. Its power is a result of glacier runoff cascading down from high mountain peaks that eventually give way to clear, blue, still reflective waters. On the shores of Avalanche Lake, the peaceful setting continues as it changes, with spectacular views of Bearhat Mountain prominently dominating the skyline above the lake.
The Avalanche Lake hike kicks off with an incredible stroll through the Trail of the Cedars.