Hidden Lake Overlook
We can hardly think of a better short hike in the world that rivals the view from the Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier Park. And if you’re lucky there will be some handsome Rocky Mountain Goats nearby on the trail!
Take the Going-to-the-Sun Road and park at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Be aware the parking lot is typically full between 8:30am and 4pm. Get here early or late. There is also public transportation from other parking lots on the GTTS road.
|When to do|
June through September
Out and back
This hike is some-kinda-wonderful, but you won’t be alone. There are literally hundreds of people doing this route, and for good reason. The overlook is stunning. Beyond stunning. One of the best of the best. And it’s only 2.1km each way!
Early in the season this hike retains a lot of snow. In mid-July we saw a father with his kids carrying ski gear up to get some turns in. We heard people ask him “Are you going skiing?” He didn’t even reply, and frankly we were left wondering what the people asking the question thought he might be doing besides skiing.
Our last trip in mid-July was very snowy, with only about half the hike without powder. As early evening approached, the snow was melting, and the trail was quite wet. We didn’t mind as we had our good, sturdy leather boots (thank-you Zamberlan!), however people in sandals or running shoes were having a tough time.
From the parking lot, head towards the visitor center. Walk behind the visitor center and you will see a load of people heading up towards Hidden Lake Pass. This entire route is through alpine gardens, which makes it stunning. These meadows, known as “Hanging Gardens” are fragile, and much of this path is on a boardwalk, designed to preserve the fragile grasses of this area.
As you look up, you will see Clements Mountain towering on your right, with waterfalls coming down early in the season. On your left you will see Reynolds Mountain. It goes without saying it’s worth it to stop and look behind you. Towering above the Visitor Centre is Mount Pollock, with Mount Piegan on the right. You can also pick out the start of the wonderful Highline Trail, which takes you along the Continental Divide to Granite Park Chalet.
But you’re continuing ahead. As you rise, cross a stream or two, which hopefully means there are some Rocky Mountain Goats nearby. As you come over a pass there is often a pleasant little tarn or two on your left, which can offer some beautiful photos with reflections when the sun is right and the wind is low. From the pass you get an idea of the beauty that lay ahead, with Bearhat Mountain dominating the view.
As you descend a short distance, you’ll get to another wooden boardwalk, boasting more wonderful views. Hidden Lake is dominated by Bearhat Mountain rising directly above. To the right you can see Mount Cannon in the distance, while to your left the Dragons Tail leads from Mount Reynolds and connects with Bearhat Mountain.
Early in the season, Rangers often close access to the lake as bears are feeding on salmon (at least that is what they said, we’re impressed the salmon get from the Pacific all the way to Hidden Lake!). Later in the season, once the path is open, you have the option to continue another 2.3km down to Hidden Lake. This is a pleasant walk and there are nice views from the lake. If you have the energy, hike down the 235m to the lake, but remember you need to climb back up!
Your route back is the same as the way you came up. This is a great time to perfect your glissading skills if there is still snow, but please BE CAREFUL!
Be prepared for snow, we used microspikes in mid-July there was so much snow. Poles and good boots were very helpful. With that said, people were doing this hike in flip-flops, so it can be done, only with discomfort and more danger, in a wide variety of footwear.
Going after dinner is a great time, as the light is fine, the crowds low and more animals are around!
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