Glacier National Park, Montana
Words and Photography by Lauren Hurst
While writing at a coffee shop today, a young family approached me and asked about Glacier National Park. The father had seen the mountain goat bumper stickers on my car as well as the hiking decals on my computer and connected the dots. They came up with their two children and each of them took turns raving about their trip to the park, saying that it was one of their absolute favorite national park experiences.
With excitement, the kids told me how they saw bears, moose, and mountain goats, then laughed about their timing with arriving to the park the day that the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road closed for the season. Their eyes all lit up as they took a break from their daily routine and reminisced on a summertime memory.
That look in their eyes is the reason that I choose to work in Glacier National Park. Next to the amazing trails, the incredible connection that people make with this place is what has made the park so memorable.
This family quickly reminded me of how important it is to share the excitement of our parks with others. These places are sacred, wild, and need protection; but it is these meaningful vacations with our friends and family that create the environmental stewards we need.
These places are sacred, wild, and need protection; but it is these meaningful vacations… that create the environmental stewards we need.
While working in the park, I learned about some of the best trails in the area. There are amazing backpacking routes, peaks to scramble, and rivers to raft, but the one trail that I always recommend (especially to families) is to Hidden Lake. With pavement and boardwalks traversing much of the journey towards the Hidden Lake Lookout, this trail can throw some serious hikers off at first by being so “easy.” However, its accessibility for many types of travelers is what makes it so likable.
The Hidden Lake trail begins at the Logan Pass visitor center, which at 6,646 feet is the highest point in the park that you can access by car. It is an extremely popular destination in the park, so arrive before 9am if you hope to find a parking spot (or take the free shuttle provided by the park service!). Snow also tends to linger in this area well into the season, so be prepared to stomp in some slush until late July.
In less than a mile and a half, you can reach the lookout, which provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains and Hidden Lake down below. In addition to that, I can almost guarantee a sighting of marmots, mountain goats, or bighorn sheep by this point.
If you choose to continue along the trail, you will reach the waters of the lake after hiking less than three miles from the trailhead. Down below you are able to escape the crowds and find some secluded beach spots for a snack break. You do not want to leave your camera behind for this hike!
Photos (C) 2016 Lauren Hurst