Highline Trail (Glacier National Park) 03-Sep-2010

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana

This was the fourth (and last – sigh) hike during our 2010 trip to Glacier National Park. We decided to do a popular but wildly visual loop on the Highline Trail from Logan Pass, along the Garden Wall to Glacier Park Chalet, then down to the Going-to-the-Sun Highway – returning to Logan Pass via the free park shuttle (11.6 miles roundtrip; 800 feet of elevation gain). This was our most crowded hiking day – I think we saw about two dozen people on the trail.

Unlike our last three hikes, the weather for this one was absolutely perfect for the whole day.

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Logan Pass the day we arrived in the park
Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
The view of Mount Oberlin from Logan Pass today

We began this section of the Highline Trail at Logan Pass with a traverse above the Going-to-the-Sun Highway along some cliffs,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
The start of the Highline Trail

then out into a traverse of the upper slopes of the McDonald Creek Valley,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
The Highline Trail contours along the valley wall

and then some more cliff traversing,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Along the Highline Trail

before we entered open ground with views southwestward to the peaks across the McDonald Creek Valley.

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Mount Oberlin, Mount Clements, and Mount Cannon

We then followed the trail up and around Haystack Butte,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
The trail climbs below Haystack Butte

to a point where we were looking directly back toward Logan Pass,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Mount Oberlin at the head of the valley

and then we continued on north to where we could almost see Lake McDonald further down the valley.

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Looking down-valley almost to the lake
Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Heavens Peak and Mount Vaught

At some point we became so fixated on the view out across the valley that we almost walked right past a herd of bighorn sheep grazing next to the trail.

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Bighorns grazing along the trail

An iconic marmot was also right on the trail, vying for our attention (and probably snacks too).

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Marmot

We reached Glacier Park Chalet – built early in the last century and, thanks to a renovation in 1995, still offering overnight accommodations – in time for lunch.

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Glacier Park Chalet

We had lunch with a view (but no marmot).

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Longfellow Peak from the porch at Glacier Park Chalet

After that, it was down the Granite Park Trail,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
The Glacier Park Chalet from the trail

through snags left by the 2003 Trapper Creek Complex Fire,

Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Along the Glacier Park Trail

to the Going-to-the-Sun Highway, where we caught the free park shuttle back to Logan Pass.  This was another day where we weren’t driven to the bar by storms.


Highline Trail Glacier National Park Montana
Sunrise at Swiftcurrent Lake

The next day, we checked out of the Many Glacier Hotel, had breakfast at the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex (with train-accessible cross-country skiing in the winter), then spent the day hanging out in Kalispell and Whitefish before catching the train back to Portland in the evening. We were home by lunchtime the next day.

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