I've hiked, skied, and paddled across a lot of Glacier National Park, yet somehow have avoided a visit to likely the park’s top attraction – the Highline Trail. What makes the trail special? Well, it starts at Logan Pass, which already is poplar. It gives a birds-eye view of much of the western half of the park. The first half-mile or so has been chipped into vertical rock – with hose-wrapped chains bolted to the rock to offer help. At the end of the trail is the spectacularly-sited and atmospheric Granite Park Chalet, where you can grab a drink or spend the night. Oh – and unlike most other trails in the park, this one is nearly flat for 7 miles then downhill for 4! Since the trail is popular it’s unlikely you’ll have it to yourself, but crowds do space out and solitude is not impossible to find. I started the hike under sunny skies that soon clouded and then downpoured. With a girl I huddled under a rock outcrop while the most intense showers passed. When the rain stopped fog set in, and I made it to the chalet before another storm began. The chalet was steamy and full of hikers escaping the rain, so soon I left and headed downhill, arrived back at the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and caught a free shuttle back to Logan Pass. Home a few hours later I turned the camera on and looked at the photos. Already it was hard to imagine such beautiful places exist.
When people say they went hiking at Glacier National Park's Logan Pass, they most likely mean they were on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. That means that it's unlikely you'll have this overlook to yourself, but it also means everyone is probably heading there for a good reason -- it's gorgeous. The trail leaves from behind the Logan Pass visitor center and climbs gently on rock, snow, and boardwalks along the edges of mountains for about 2 miles until leveling and then descending slightly to the overlook. Hidden Lake is crammed between mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine velvet. It's an improbably beautiful spot, a standout even among the beautiful spots of Glacier. Along the way you'll mostly likely pass close to marmots and mountain goats (which seem friendly but should be treated with caution). You can hike past the overlook and down to the lake itself, though beware of bears. Snow covers parts of the trail all summer, so this is not one to do in flip flops.