Glacier National Park
You have only one day to hike in the park, wanting to see the best, most
spectacular sites, there is one trail that out shines them all.
The Highline Trail and specifically the Garden Wall section of the Highline Trail.
The 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet. and another 4 miles beyond the chalet will take you back to Going-to-the-Sun Road at The Loop.
On a trail that loses 3,026 feet in elevation while gaining only 830 feet, heavy exertion is optional.
“This is a wonderful hike and you get this wonderful view all along the way.
With a sweeping view you take in everything from Bearhat Mountain on the south to the aptly named Heaven’s Peak to Swiftcurrent Mountain on the north.
The view includes the grand scale of Glacier Park’s craggy peaks, the sparkle of the sun off Mineral and McDonald creeks and Lake McDonald thousands of feet below, the palette of color that gains boldness as the hiker nears wildflower fields.
The walk quickly reveals a patch of delicate white Western anemone blooms bobbing 15 feet off the trail.
The waxy yellow brilliance of mountain buttercups dotted virtually the entire length of this section. Bold and big, the whorled leaves of false hellebore opened up to make way for what, in a few weeks, will become five-foot-tall shoots bearing plumes of understated whitish-green flowers.
Yellow snow cinquefoil flowers gave way to the intriguing double-branched flowers of black twinberry (some call it bearberry honeysuckle) which, despite their alluring looks, produce slightly poisonous fruit later in the season.
The rippling fields of delicate yellow glacier lilies and the giant fuzzy white cones of common beargrass are abundant.
Grizzlies love to dig for the edible bulbs of tasty glacier lilies. Telltale patches of pawed-up ground in glacier lily fields near the pass often mean a bear’s been there for dinner.
All along the Highline Trail, wildlife was abundant.
Some of it flew overhead, including the white-crowned sparrow and the gray-crowned rosy finch.
Mountain goats were nearly as common and just as peaceful to watch.
Bears often can be seen farther along the trail in Granite Park — fondly known by the locals as Bear Park.
The most compelling aspect of this trail is that its beauty can be shared by everyone from babes in arms — more likely in backpacks — to senior citizens. The Highline can venture in just a short way and return to Logan Pass or continue to Granite Park and beyond.
From Granite Park, a steep descent finishes off the day on the way to The Loop on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
There are other routes beyond Granite Park, also: Adventurous hikers can climb Swiftcurrent Pass and descend into the Many Glacier Valley, or backpackers can continue on the Upper Highline Trail far beyond Granite Park.
Depending on snow conditions, the Highline Trail usually opens in July.