Trails I've Hiked: Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier National Park

The short hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier offers a view of a lake nestled in a cirque, and frequent opportunities to enjoy wildlife and the park's outstanding geologic aspects. Top photo NPS, bottom photo Kurt Repanshek.

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 arĂȘte 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.

Comments

I have hiked this trail twice in my lifetime and each time we have encountered the mountain goats grazing and have been able to throw a snowball or two as we cross patches of snow. I imagine myself lying in the grass looking out at the beautiful cirque with the crystal blue lake when I need to unwind. My kind of heaven!! And to get to Logan's Pass is the amazing Going to the Sun road...a trip with a view hard to forget.

Continuing on past the overlook down to the lakeshore is one of our favorite hikes.

I hiked it last week. Planning my arrival at the parking lot in time for a 1:30pm thunderstorm cleared out a lot of spaces and allowed me time to change shoes and get some gear together for the hike. It was my 8th visit to the park and it's certainly a must-do trail every time I go. I was surprised to see 80% of the trail covered in snow and required very careful steps 2/3 of the way up the trail to avoid losing traction and going for a nice ride down the mountain. Many people were warming their feet with the hands near the bottom, those who foolishly thought they could hike it in sandals. However, it was heavily traveled and we were delighted to encounter a 6 point buck deer on the trail, as well as 2 adult and 1 yearling Mountain Goat near the top. The view from the boardwalk at the end of the trail was awesome as usual. A few people with optics observed a grizzly on the opposite side of the lake. Going down the trail was a bit scarier without spikes on the boots to prevent quite a few slips in the deep snow. However, we got back to the parking lot in time to see may bighorn sheep males wandering around in a herd, patrolling the parking lot for anything that the visitors might have left behind. 2 approached us as we were photographing. A few deer showed up in the parking lot, later on. It was a great day and definitely a very different hike than the previous 7 times I used the trail due to the snow fields.