Thursday, July 31, 2014

Highline Trail Hike, Glacier National Park, Montana…

Hidden Lake and Highline Trails 187What I felt would be the mother of all hikes in Glacier National Parks was our next endeavor… I figured we had been hiking in the high country enough to not have altitude issues and I also figured we had done enough hiking in the high country not to have to have issues with distance. So after reading a lot of hiking reviews I decided we really needed to do the Highline Trail.

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The Highline Trail is a hike in the highest country in Glacier NP and a seriously long hike of around 11.6 miles. We normally don’t hike more than 6-7 miles and occasionally 8 miles but this hike was calling me. I mentioned it to Sharon and after I told her that from what I read it was mostly downhill she acquiesced and said let’s do it…

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We had to bear in mind that some of this hike is along the sides of cliffs on fairly narrow trails and Sharon is not real keen on heights. Nevertheless we made the commitment and drove from the Kalispell to Apgar Village in Glacier NP. Our plan was to catch the free Glacier NP shuttle from Apgar up to Logan Pass where the Highline Trail trailhead is located.

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The bus up took about 45 minutes and the hike down apparently takes 5.5 hours… We had a later start than we had hoped but hit the trail by 1:00 p.m. and within minutes we were on the edge of a cliff on the trail and Sharon seemed content though a bit nervous. The steepest cliff had a handrail which she appreciated and made use of. I had read the trail was mostly downhill which was blatantly incorrect as the trial climbed up and down for most of the hike before dropping straight down for the last three and half miles.

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Despite the challenges of the hike this trail to us was by far the most scenic of all trails we had hiked to date in Glacier. We found ourselves pausing a lot to admire the views of all the surrounding mountains and valleys which were absolutely amazing. The wildflowers along the trail and the occasional spotting of a Mountain Goat or Marmot were additional treats!  We snacked alongside a waterfall spending more time in awe of the panoramic views from our perch on the rocky slope. We would have liked spending more time on the trail but the last shuttle going back down the mountain was at 7:00 pm so I knew our time was limited. Thus we hiked a bit faster than we would have preferred and after we reached the Swiss Chalet at the 7.2 mile mark we realized we would need to pick up the pace even more to make it to the bus in time.

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We both feel this hike is a must do for those that can hike the distance despite the fact that the last 3.5 miles or so were pretty much straight downhill and our toes became very familiar with the tips of our boots!. There were a lot of switchbacks and just when we thought we were near the parking lot at the end of the trail, there was one more cruel switchback to conquer before making our way to the benches provided to wait for the bus.

It was definitely a wonderful hike but very tiring and we were pretty sore the next day after using muscles that haven't seen that amount of exercise in many years…


  1. I never believe those that say the hike is mostly downhill. I've been lied to too many times. It looks like a beautiful hike but I'm nervous about heights too. They need hiking boots with padded toes!

  2. I have become increasingly out of shape! I am going to have to get serious about improving my exercise level if I ever want to do that one, which IS on my list for next summer.

  3. This hike is on my list for Glacier which we hope to get to in the next couple weeks. The problem is getting use to the altitude again. Hopefully, we won't have a problem because we don't have time to take it slowly.

  4. As non-hikers, we were confined to the roads while visiting Glacier so I'm really enjoying your shots of the spectacular back country.

  5. Sounds like a great hike for our next visit, which hopefully won't be too many years away.

  6. Maybe everyone knows...but if you can take and tolerate aspirin, it is your high altitude friend. It allows the body to get more oxygen more easily.

    I live here at 3300 and GNP altitudes of 7300 are not bothersome, but my folks live in South Fork, CO at just under 9K and I sometimes find myself huffing and puffing there and waking often in the night. Aspirin helps.

    Also, if you are an essential oil person...a drop of lavender on your instep and chest is good also.

  7. Love the pictures! Makes me jealous. I have been following your blog for a number of years (my husband and I did a year long trip and investigated others for their experiences). I loved GNP. One of my favorites. We enjoyed Iceberg Lake (recommended by hikers on Grinnell Lake trail) and Siyeh Pass also. Thanks for the great pictures and making me long for MT! I think I'm going to plan another visit!

  8. I have driven through Logans Pass many times and was always struck by the amazing views! I have never hiked - thanks for sharing your story and pics - I doubt I will ever attempt it. My hikes are like - 3 miles or so!!!!