As cheesy as this is going to sound, I had been thinking about visiting Montana since my early teens after I watched Legends of The Fall . Glaciers, mountain lions, wild horses, grizzly bears, and the image of a younger Brad Pitt holding a rifle sold me on Montana at a young age.
At 29, I made it to Montana. With only 5 days in the big sky country, me and a good friend, Patrick (an avid hiker and camping expert) planned to go to Glacier National Park. Our first stop was the popular West Glacier. West Glacier is a great introduction to the glacier habitat because of its accessibility, picturesque hikes and modest altitudes. Going to the Sun Road, Avalanche Lake and Lake McDonald are a must see on this side of the glacier.
In order to see Lake McDonald in all its splendor, we decided to do backcountry primitive camping. We left the backcountry permit office at Apgar and drove past the famous Going to the Sun road until we couldn’t drive anymore. We left our car and walked approximately 6 miles through forest to get to the beach where we would set camp.
The sight of Lake McDonald in the morning is something difficult to forget. The waters are crystal clear, calm and are surrounded by the incredible glacier mountains. The beach and the ground under the lake are covered with pastel colored pebbles.
Avalanche Lake, is a quick and easy hike (if you are in decent shape). With a 4.5 mile roundtrip walk and only 700 feet elevation gain, this is the perfect trail if you only have a few hours to spare. This trail will take you through a beautiful hike shaded by the cedar and hemlock forest in this area. The destination? The Avalanche Lake basin. Another gorgeous, yet smaller lake with high glaciers and waterfalls in the background. This looked like the perfect place where a grizzly would come for lunch. We didn’t stick around for long.
East Glacier park is more scenic, has better hikes and is less commercial. We drove through the Blackfeet indian reservation before arriving to East Glacier. In the reservation, I saw decaying trailer homes, abandoned cars and stray dogs. It sounds terrible but I enjoyed the eerie feeling of being in a place that seemed frozen in time. If you are into history, challenging hikes and remote places, East Glacier is your side of the park.
The hike to Scenic point offers incredible views! To get here you must take the Mount Henry trailhead, one quarter of a mile East of the medicine store in the Two Medicine Area. This hike is short in distance but its steep. Although its said to be the most attainable hike in this portion of the park, I wouldn’t recommend it if you are not in good shape.
As you climb, the view of the Two Medicine lake and the surrounding mountains get more impressive than you expect when you first start the trail. This picture below is my favorite and the highlight of this particular hike!