Glacier National Park is treasure chest for hikers looking for adventurous hiking experience with views of wonderful landscapes, crystal clear water of waterfalls, lakes, dense green forest with huge mountains standing in background along with glimpse of wild life. There are tons of trails that can be done with family/solo at Glacier National Park.
Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road
One of the most popular thing to do at Glacier National Park is driving through the Going-To-The-Sun Road. This 50-mile scenic long road runs through the heart of park and connects the West Glacier and East Glacier. The drive itself is one of the biggest attractions of visiting Glacier National Park.
The road passes through multiple waterfalls, snow peaked mountains, valleys filled with dense greenery and wildflowers. There are many pullouts to stop and enjoy breath taking views and capture some memorable moments in pictures. There are many various hiking options along this road.
Where is Highline Trail in Glacier National Park?
The Highline Trail comes in to sight when you are driving on Going-To-The-Sun Road near the Logan Pass. Trail starts from Logan Pass and follows west side of Continental Divide over 30 miles to Goat Haunt in Canada. Highline Trail head is right across the street at Logan Pass Visitor center and Parking Lot.
We were driving through this road for two consecutive days exploring the park and sight of Highline trail was making us more tempted to attempt it. Finally, on the third day we decided to get on this trail. Logan Pass is extremely popular among visitors and hikers, so expect the parking lot and overflow parking to be full in early morning hours.
Always have some backup plan while visiting this beautiful park as parking issue may disrupt your plan and schedule. We were able to secure a parking spot in our second attempt at Logan Pass parking lot during late afternoon hours.
Need not to say we did not got parking spot earlier in the morning at 7.45 am as it got full. So, you can think of the excitement we had on getting a spot to park. We grabbed our hiking essentials and started for the hike.
Hiking the Highline Trail
Trail Feature: Alpine Meadows, Rocky Narrow Ledge next to steep drop
Trail head: Logan Pass Visitor Center/ Parking Lot.
Distance: 11.6 miles one-way (to GTTS Road -The Loop)
Total elevation gain: 1950 feet
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Best time to go: July-August
The Highline trail starts with green lush vegetation growing in the alpine meadows with beautiful colorful wildflowers. The trail drops some elevation in the starting. The view of twisting turning Going-To-The-Sun road across the Continental Divide and the huge mountain and valley is breath taking.
We got see herd of Bighorn sheep grazing in to meadows from Highline trail. With in no time, trail changed its character and we reached the best part of the hike where trail follows a vertical wall of rocky mountain on one side and steep drop off in to Going-To-The-Sun Road on other side. At this point many Visitors turn back who are scare of heights and narrow edges.
The sight of narrow ledge on side of mountain with steep drop offs in Continental Divide’s Going-To-The-Sun road looks scary and adrenaline pumping experience to have. It was our first time on this trail, and we were excited and thrilled to do this. Good point was there is a rope similar to garden hose tied on the ledge of the rocky mountain, so hikers can hold it while crossing the narrow ledge section.
There is no other ralling or wall on other side facing the steep drop. Walking along this ledge was exhilarating and thrilling. It was scary to think of how easy it would be to fall off the edge. Some part of rocky section is so narrow that one direction people need to wait and let other direction hiker cross them. This trail is not for faint of heart.
This trail is right above Going-To-The-Sun road and goes parallel to it. When we looked down, we could see the twisting turning road with tiny cars. After walking the rocky section, the trail again turns to green vegetation cover.
The Highline trail is right in middle of the park and with view of very large valley on one side and with mountain wall along the other side. The panoramic view of valleys and mountains were spectacular and breathtaking.
We hiked for around two hours and then decided to turn back to Logan Pass parking lot. We stopped multiple times to capture the beautiful views and scenery. As the trail is along the edge of mountain, there is no shelter. Glad It was a sunny day with temperatures in 70 F and we were having our sun glasses and sun hats.
On our way back, on reaching the narrow ledge rocky part we got surprised by mountain goat who came in front of us from a blind turn. The mountain goat stood right in middle of the trail. One side of trail is rocky mountain wall with green hose and other side of trail is steep drop off on the road.
At first, we got scare as there was no other way to move except going back on the same trail. We all moved few steps back on the trail while sticking our backs to the mountain wall. But the Mountain goat was way smarter than we humans.
Mountain goat moved over the rocks on the steep drop off side and waited for us to move ahead on trail. It was scarier to see mountain goat standing on uneven edge of rock next to steep drop. After we all cross her, mountain goat came back to middle of trail and walked in other direction.
This made us realize we were just a visitor in their territory. And they treated their visitors well. And that is the reason We should respect their privacy and follow Leave no trace principle.
The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans.
The Highline trail looks deceptively strenuous on getting the view from Going-To-The-Sun road. But the trail doesn’t have much elevation gain or drop within first few miles of the trails. It is a moderate hike with gradual inclines with majority flat part on trail.
The only real difficulties that I could think of anyone could face on this hike are the narrow trails, steep drop-offs, the high winds or rain, close encounter with wild life. During our vacation at Glacier National Park, we got to see lot of wild life including marmots, deer, mountain goats, big horn sheep , black bear and grizzly bear.
What to bring on the Highline Trail ?
Hiking boots/shoes – Section of trails are dusty, rocky, loose rocks that would need a good grip.
Hiking poles – We always have them on our hiking trips. Good for knees.
Water – At least 2 Liter per person. Depends on Climate and how much you drink water.
Lunch/Snacks – The trail is amazingly beautiful with scenic views of valleys and mountain. You would like to sit and enjoy the view with some snack break.
Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen – This trail runs over edge of mountain, no treelined so not much shade at all.
Bug Spray – Good to have if you not wearing full covering clothes. Also depends on Climate. We didn’t have any issues; bug activity was very low.
Bear Spray – It is insisted to take Bear spray everywhere in Glacier National park. Chances are you would never use them but better to have. You can buy them or rent them from gift shops at Visitor Centers.
Light Jacket – As hiking along the “Continental Divide”, one can expect sudden change in climate with wind, thunderstorms, rain or cold.
Highline Trail is a great hike that can be done with young kids and family. We just did part of it for couple of hours, 2 miles in and 2 miles back. The beautiful and exhilarating part of this trail is at start of the trail. So you won’t miss the thrill.
Glacier National Park is one of our favorite National Park. We love visiting it and can’t wait to go back to do all this over again and explore other trails.
Have you been to Glacier National Park? Would you like to hike the Highline Trail? Feel free to comment below and tell about your exciting experience on Highline Trail at Glacier National Park or similar trail that I can add to my hiking bucket list.
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