Cool breezes and even cooler views pass through the open roof of your sporty Red Jammer bus as it rounds a hairpin curve towards Logan Pass. Alighting at the summit, you stride with your guide into the heart of Montana’s Rockies. Lacy white beargrass floats cloudlike atop tall stalks, and ribbed green slopes plunge into the U-shaped glacial valley below. Trading gazes with a mountain goat on the cliffs above, you break into a smile and realize you’re living in a primeval world few are privileged to know. Staying each night at historic lodges, with hiking trails right out your back door, you’ve got a front-row perspective on Glacier’s mountains, lakes, and wildlife on this Montana hiking trip. So embrace the moment. The trail ahead curves enticingly round another bend, and you’re off, into the high country.
Sat, Jul 10 to Thu, Jul 15 - 2021
Transfer to Glacier National Park. Avalanche Lake; 4-6 miles, easy to moderate
Your guide(s) will meet you at the Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge at 8:00 a.m. in the lobby. Your guide(s) will be wearing a Country Walkers shirt. Please be dressed for walking.
From the meeting point in Whitefish, you drive (approximately one hour) to the western side of Glacier National Park. Here, in the lush, ancient cedar rainforest, you stretch your legs on an easy walk up to the glacial meltwaters of Avalanche Lake. The path first passes Avalanche Gorge, where rushing waters have carved the stone into smooth chutes and bowls. From here you continue climbing on a moss-rimmed pathway among western red cedars and hemlock to the tranquil shores of Avalanche Lake, which rests in a cirque surrounded by the towering, layered cliffs of Glacier Park’s dramatic mountains.
Following a lakeside picnic lunch, you travel a short distance to your home for the night—a national park property that first began welcoming guests in 1895. Nestled in a cedar grove on tranquil Lake McDonald, the lodge provides opportunities to stroll the lakeshore or perhaps relax near the lobby’s giant stone fireplace.
Tonight’s dinner will be at a restaurant in nearby Coran or a prepared meal from your lodge.
Accommodation: Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park
7 miles, moderate
This morning, early risers may have an opportunity to view the wildlife, such as deer and elk, which make their home in the forested foothills around Lake McDonald. After breakfast, you depart the western side of the park by way of the well-known Going-to-the-Sun Road, a marvel of engineering that spectacularly scales the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elevation 6,646 feet) and affords close-up views of the park’s majestic high peaks, cliffs, and lakes.
Today’s walk is the famous “Garden Wall” section of the Highline Trail, which provides spectacular scenery and excellent opportunities to view wildlife on the open mountain slopes below the rugged ridge of the Continental Divide. The trail crosses a broad ledge, then winds through fir and spruce that have been molded over time into eerie shapes by the strong winter winds and ice particles, leaving many without windward branches and, instead, with a flag-like appearance. You are surrounded by the results of glacial activity, in a valley overlooking mountains that cradle a high hanging basin, from which a waterfall cascades hundreds of feet to the valley floor below. You may share the trail with mountain goats or bighorn sheep, which are at home on the ledges of the rugged, rocky terrain. After lingering near a promontory known as Haystack Butte, you then return on the same trail.
By late afternoon you reach your home for the next two nights, another spectacular park lodge built by the Great Northern Railroad in 1915. The lodge sits on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, and offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the park. This convenient location provides two days of walking directly from the front door. Built with a true Swiss flavor, the hotel features a recently renovated exterior. This evening you will either dine at a nearby restaurant or outdoors at a nearby picnic area with to-go meals prepared by the lodge.
Accommodation: Many Glacier Lodge, Glacier National Park
5-9 miles, moderate, 1,200-ft. elevation gain
After breakfast, you set out for the striking aquamarine tarn known as Iceberg Lake. The trail climbs briskly for the first few hundred yards and then continues on a gradual ascent to the lake (elevation gain of 1,200 feet). You traverse slopes colored with a profusion of wildflowers, including the creamy white blossoms of beargrass in early summer and the magenta spikes of fireweed mid-summer. In all seasons, you behold the spectacular views of Swiftcurrent Glacier, Grinnell Point, and towering Mt. Wilbur, known to the Blackfeet as “Heavy Shield Mountain.”
Ptarmigan Falls provides a refreshing rest spot on warm summer days. For a shorter walking option, you may turn back here and enjoy a leisurely afternoon at the lodge. For the longer option, you continue on to the glacial cirque that supports the frigid turquoise waters and ice flows of Iceberg Lake (elevation 6,094 feet). In the late afternoon, you return to the lodge with time to refresh before dinner on your own from the lodge’s dining room.
Accommodation: Many Glacier Lodge, Glacier National Park
5 miles, moderate, 600-ft. elevation gain; or Grinnell Glacier; 11 miles, moderate to challenging, 1,400-ft. elevation gain
An area known as the Grinnell Valley holds two destinations in store today—Grinnell Lake Overlook or Grinnell Glacier. The trail begins with a climb through a forest of sub-alpine firs, then traverses ledges of sedimentary red and green argillite, which open broadly to breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, while Mts. Gould and Grinnell tower above. With the distinctive milky flow of glacial meltwater, Grinnell Falls cascades into Grinnell Lake below. Wildlife sightings are likely as you travel through the habitat of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bear, and moose. The turnaround point at Grinnell Lake Overlook is remarkably picturesque and allows for a leisurely pace on the return along the wildflower-studded shores of two lovely lakes (elevation gain of 600 feet).
For those who continue onward and upward, the trail is demanding, but rewarding, and provides access to one of the largest remaining glaciers in the park (elevation gain of 1,400 feet). At the end of the day’s adventures, a scenic drive of just over an hour brings you to new accommodations—a historic park lodge known as the “Big Tree” hotel owing to the enormous Douglas fir trees adorning its majestic lobby. Dinner is served in the lodge’s dining room.
Accommodation: Glacier Park Lodge, Glacier National Park
8 miles, moderate to challenging, 2,200-ft. elevation gain or Upper Two Medicine Lake; 7.5 miles, easy
This morning, a short drive brings you to Two Medicine Valley and the trailhead for a walk that boasts the week’s highest elevation, uniquely located here in the park’s vast, eastern prairies. From the east bank of Appistoki Creek, the trail climbs quickly, passing Appistoki Falls, then ascends steeply and steadily via switchbacks up the arid mountainside above the creek. All of today’s elevation gain (approximately 2,200 feet) is within the first three miles, but you are rewarded at the summit of Scenic Point (elevation 7,522 feet) with spectacular views. To the west are great peaks, passes, and deep blue lakes along the Continental Divide, and to the east are great plains that stretch for hundreds of miles. After a picnic lunch, you return on the same trail with beautiful views of Glacier National Park before you.
For those looking for something more leisurely, a walk is offered to Upper Two Medicine Lake. Starting at the foot of Two Medicine Lake with magnificent Rising Wolf Mountain towering to the north, the trail gently winds through diverse forest where occasional avalanche chutes open to views of this gorgeous valley. While eating a snack at the impressive Twin Falls, you may see an ouzel (or American dipper), which makes its home in a nest under one of the falls. Continuing on to Upper Two Medicine Lake (elevation gain of 300 feet), you unpack your picnic lunch before making your way back to Two Medicine Lake. Tonight’s farewell dinner is at a local restaurant known for its casual menu and lively atmosphere.
Accommodation: Glacier Park Lodge, Glacier National Park
1 mile, easy. Departure from Whitefish
Your final day offers a pleasant hike around the Forest and Fire Nature Trail loop which is near the Camas Creek entrance to the park. Previously called the Huckleberry Mountain Nature Trail, this hike takes you through areas that were severely burned in 1967 – and scorched yet again in 2001. Determined pine saplings, young aspens, and fragrant wildflowers surround the trail as you walk through the rebirth of the forest. Soon you’ll ascend vantage points to see thousands of dead trees and spreading views of the Flathead River. Once this hike is complete, you’ll shuttle to Apgar Village on the shores of Lake McDonald, for a picnic lunch before returning to Whitefish for departures from the airport or downtown.
Glacier Park Lodge
A National Park lodge, first opened to the public in 1913, with a massive, welcoming lobby and reputation as “The Big Tree” hotel. Rooms are un-air conditioned; a fan is provided upon request.
Many Glacier Lodge
The largest of the national-park lodges in Glacier, this historical hotel was built in the Swiss tradition and opened in 1915. Located on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, this lodge affords some of the best wildlife viewing in the park. Rooms are un-air conditioned; a fan is provided upon request.
Lake McDonald Lodge
Built in 1914, this national-park lodge is situated in a cedar grove on the shores of beautiful Lake McDonald. Rooms are un-air conditioned; a fan is provided upon request.
|Exceptional boutique accommodations|
|All on-tour meals except 1 dinner|
|Local guides with you throughout tour|
|Local wine and/or beer with dinner|
|Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz|
Dates & Prices
6 days. Includes your tour only.
Single Supplement: From $898
Experience your destination like an insider with people who call it home.
Eva Stone was raised in Gardiner, Montana at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, one of the few humans among its bison and elk inhabitants! She has worked and guided in Yellowstone and Denali National Park, but Glacier has been far and away her favorite and is home. Whether she’s hiking, biking, rafting, or skiing she loves being out in the mountains and sharing her enthusiasm for protected wilderness with others.
Jordan Smith was born and raised in greater Seattle and developed a passion for the outdoors at an early age. The day after she graduated from college, she moved to the mountains of Montana and never looked back, guiding in Glacier National Park ever since. Jordan enjoys work as a ski instructor and yoga teacher in the off season and is deeply passionate about the area’s history and ecology.
Carolyn Beecher first started hiking in Acadia when she was 6 years old with the Appalachian Mountain Club, her family staying at the Echo Lake Camp on the west side of Mount Desert Island. The aroma of balsam fir, the taste of blueberries, and the expansive views of the ocean and islands from the granite summits of Acadia touch deep places within her. Eventually settling in Montana in 1980, she began as a guide in 1991 in Glacier National Park. Her excitement about sharing our national parks’ remarkable ecology, history, beauty, and peace with you cannot be missed. Carolyn will encourage you to relax your mind, open your senses, and have fun in the present moment.
Jennifer Buls hails from Great Falls, Montana, and has worked as a rafting and hiking guide since 2002. Gifted in plant identification, Jennifer studied Forest Resource management. When not guiding, one can find her working in a local gear shop or out on the slopes snowboarding.
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