I didn’t really have a plan for this adventure. At the last minute I had decided to go somewhere beautiful where I could get out in nature, explore, and experience new terrain. I was starting to feel out of balance, that my concentration was not as present as I wanted or believed it should be. I knew traveling and experiencing nature would ground and center me. I needed a departure to recenter myself, which I always recommend everyone does from time to time. It offers a chance to be present, see what’s in front of you, and get in touch with your soul.
At the top of my list of hiking destinations was Montana’s Glacier National Park. Unknown at the time for me, that it was at the peak of the busy season (July to September). Don’t let that deter you, though, simply find ways to adapt to it.
I knew I had to stay close enough to the airport for my 5:45am flight out on Sunday, and close enough to the entrance of Glacier National Park to make the most of my time there. The most convenient and accommodating for me was Columbia Falls. If, however, you’re looking for a little more activity and closer restaurants and bars, I would recommend Whitefish. (Keep in mind, though, that it will add 20 minutes of travel time to the park).
The key to Glacier National Park is to get started early. Parking is a consideration and you don’t want that to limit your experience. If you chose this destination because you want to hike and explore, plan on an early morning, and simply enjoy peaceful, relaxing evenings.
I chose my first hike, Hidden Lake, based on a picture I saw on Instagram. I went based on my gut and was incredibly happy I did. While not a challenging hike, it offers an insanely beautiful view and ideal surroundings.
Entrance of hike at Hidden Trailhead
Be prepared to see young kids hiking this trail, especially on the way to the lookout point, where families usually stop. I suggest not stopping here and instead continuing on. That will lead you down to the lake where you can take a nice cool dip. This is the only part of the hike that felt like I was hiking, but this trail is still very much worth a visit.
Now to finally indulge in a big meal and get a good local beer. Which I got exactly what I needed to hit the spot at Lake McDonald lodge. A juicy Elk Burger (not something I could ever find at home), topped with goat cheese and huckleberries. I have to say I had no problem polishing this off, so good!
I visited the lake then made the hour trip to Whitefish.
What a cute town. It’s small, but here is where you have the dive bars, restaurants, and local shops. Considering I had recently stuffed myself with a big burger, I stopped at Craggy Range Bar & Grill for an appetizer and another beer. If you sit at the bar, which is brilliantly lined and packed with ice, your beer can literally be on ice until you finish it. The appetizer I got, buffalo cauliflower, was mouth wateringly delicious and one I highly recommend.
I was up and at em’ early for a second day of hiking and this time I chose Highline Trail. One of the most recommended trails for views and wildlife spotting, including grizzly bears, it was also a good long distance.
The trail did not disappoint and saw the most beautiful site at the entrance of Highline Trail,I saw two incredible looking Rams
I couldn’t get bear spray at 7:30am at the Logan Pass (where you park) and figured if I saw a bear, I would simply freak out and run—exactly what you’re not supposed to do. I decided to see if anyone entering the hike (with bear spray) wouldn’t mind if I tagged along. Luckily I met a great couple and we hiked together. If you’re traveling alone, especially hiking long distance, I recommend finding some company.
The views along the journey
Highline Trail has two starting points, and I highly recommend the entrance at Logan Pass parking lot. Start early, before 8:30am, so that you can get a parking spot and beat the crowd (it will fill up early on). This entrance starts with the most views and shade and will take you approximately three and half hours to reach the mid-point, a chalet on top of the mountain. This is a blessing for those who have put off bathroom duties for there are bathrooms to use and a peaceful rest point to absorb the beauty.
From there you will continue the loop, which is where others will start from. If you decide to go that route, you will be in the sun the whole time and climbing uphill the whole way. This side is also unfortunately lined with the remains of the forest fire in 2008.
This 12-mile hike was an ideal way to spent the six hours it took me in the great outdoors. Some say this hike offers the best views, but I disagree. I loved walking along the edge, enjoying the sun, crossing waterfalls, and taking in mountain views in the distance, but I imagine in Glacier National Park there’s an abundance of different and spectacular views. What a blessing of a day it was. I am grateful.
MyIntent word for this trip was “serenity” for the very reason of what I desired to find at the time.
No matter what situation you may be in, the place in which you are present is to always have serenity. Serenity is finding peace within and remaining in a state of calmness and tranquility in your heart and in the energy you radiate out.
I ended the day and my trip taking in the sunset over Lake McDonald while sipping a delicious Red at Lake McDonald Lodge.