Highline Trail

We did this hike Friday, July 7, 2017. Present company was Curtis and I.

We were camped at Fish Creek Campground in Glacier National Park for the week and decided to do the Highline Trail. It was closed still from the winter up until Thursday. We had always wanted to do it because it affords incredible views of the mountain ranges and valleys.

The hike starts from one of two places: Logan Pass Visitor Center or The Loop on the Going-To-The-Sun Highway. We knew from experience that the pass gets crowded quickly, so we tried to leave early and get to the top fast. That didn’t work out so well; we drove around the parking lot for almost 30 minutes looking for a spot. It was a lot busier than we anticipated.

After getting a later start, we began our journey across the mountain front. It was already hot and forecasted to get even hotter (when we started, it was 24 roughly). The first small section is a path about 3 feet wide that winds around the face of a cliff; there’s a rope for those who feel they need it. To your left is a drop about 50-100 feet to the highway and to your right is a cliff to the top.

After this section, it opens up to a very (very) steep slope. The trail pushes forward but stays at relatively the same altitude. The views were amazing. Much better than the highway provided and the best part is that you can stop and take it all in. The trail was busy; busier than any trail we’ve done in Canada so far; but it wasn’t a hinderance.

The trail keeps winding along the face of the mountain range; in and out of alpine meadows full of blooms. The bear grass was in full bloom; it had a sickly sweet smell that filled the air. Some grew up to my shoulders. Besides the flowers, we encountered some wildlife (what hike isn’t complete with critters!). There were hundreds of Columbian Ground Squirrel (they look like gophers but are spotted and have a patch of red fur on their face). It must have been mating season because they wee chasing each other with no regard for the humans hiking through their habitat.

Another animal we saw was a mountain goat. We actually were startled by this guy because we came around the corner (we were chatting between us) and here he was, standing in the tall grass munching away. He looked up at us, took a second, then went back to eating grass. He was within 6 feet of us. We carefully backed up and waited to see if he was startled and when we realized he was more concerned with his food, we slowly made our way around him, making sure not to turn our backs to him. On the way back, he moved to the snow fields and was cooling off.

Shortly after the goat, we started to climb to the saddle (at Haystack Creek). There was still snow up there so that was a nice reprieve from the now 30 degree heat (and no shade). Once up on the saddle we sat and ate lunch by the waterfalls. While there we saw another animal scurry across a different snow field directly across from us. We think he was a marmot.

After lunch, we made our way down. By this time, the sun had crested and was directly above us not giving us any breaks from its scorching rays. It’s a good thing we brought sunscreen.

The hike back wasn’t as long as we thought, but due to the heat of the afternoon and the sun, we were looking for any waterfall we could get wet in to stay cool. By the time we made it back to the car, it was reading 37; there was no wind at all the entire hike.

In Summary:

A fantastic hike. It’s rated difficult but it wasn’t at all. I would rate it an easy. The views were so stunning that it is worth doing over and over.

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