Just getting out of your rig in the parking lot atop Logan Pass in Glacier National Park offers spectacular views, but with a little effort and perhaps two hours of time you'll be searching for a word to amplify "spectacular."
The 1.5-mile hike to the Hidden Lake overlook starts out behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center and follows a boardwalk and dirt trail through meadows that in summer are awash both with wildflowers and rivulets of snowmelt. Depending on when you venture up this trail, you might spy glacier lilies, paintbrush, pom-pom-like bear grass, wandering daisies, and more than two dozen rare species that led this area to be designated earlier this year as the very first Important Plant Area in the state of Montana.
While the wildflowers make this hike colorful, the wildlife that roams this alpine corridor make a camera indispensable. There are hoary marmots squeaking alarm of your intrusion on their landscape, tiny pikas, wooly mountain goats that don't mind posing, and, if you're lucky enough, there could be bighorn sheep cooling off in patches of snow below Clements Mountain. And there's always a chance you could spot a short-tailed or long-tailed weasel, pocket gophers, and ground squirrels.
Through this alpine realm the trail meanders, offering expansive views of that ribbon of rock known as the Garden Wall, an arête that separates the Many Glacier and Lake McDonald valleys; glacially sculpted valleys, and the park's high peaks.
Once you reach the overlook, far down below shimmers Hidden Lake, a somewhat small body of water nestled in a cirque surrounded by towering peaks that are testaments to the glaciers that carved this landscape.
Returning to the parking lot could be a chore, only because there's so much to see and the alpine landscape on a sunny summer day is a cool delight.
Traveler's footnote: If you want to add this hike to your list, get to Logan Pass early if you hope to find a parking spot. By 10:30 a.m. things could be full.