On June 29th, Monday, we arrived at Columbia Falls RV Resort in Columbia Falls, Montana. For three weeks we plan on exploring Glacier National Park as much as possible, due to COVID-19 East Glacier is closed. Our first adventure after the rain stopped was to hike to Avalanche Lake, a short 2 mile hike from the trailhead along the Trail of the Cedars that begins on the Going-to-Sun-road. It was a wet/cloudy day as we began hiking up the trail to the bridge over Avalanche Creek. The view of the lower Avalanche Gorge was very impressive and the highlight along this stretch of the trail. The trail was full of hikers, as it is one of the more popular easier hikes in the Park but well worth the view of Avalanche Lake. At 2.3 miles we finally reached the foot of Avalanche Lake with a large beach area to sit and soak-in the magnificent scenery. The Lake sits at the base of 8,694-foot Bearhat Mountain, which rises almost 4,800 feet above the lake. In the distance we saw several waterfalls plunging down the cliffs and mountains that surround the Lake, originating from Sperry Glacier that can’t be seen from the Lake. It was Dr. Lyman Sperry in June of 1895, exploring the basin, heard multiple avalanches roaring down the surrounding mountains, and thus the name Avalanche Basin became the name for the place. Avalanche Lake Trail was likely the first trail to be made for tourists in the Glacier Park area. Click on thumbnail to view images
Avalanche Lake Hike
Bicycling Going-to-the-Sun Road-Evening Ride
The 53-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, completed in 1932, for nearly $2 million, bisects the Park from east to west, and crosses the Continental Divide through Logan Pass at an elevation of 6,646 feet. The Going-to-the-Sun Road was not fully open to vehicles for the season but was open on the weekend for bikers and hikers. So on Saturday, July 4th, we decided to ride our Trek e-bikes all the way to Logan Pass from the road closure at Avalanche Creek,16 miles one way. We started our ride at 5pm on a beautiful warm, sunny evening, in order to be able to find a parking space for the Jeep, and maybe see the full moon rise on Logan Pass. Also, at this hour we were practically the only riders on the road. Biking offers a way to ultimately savor all of the detail that created the country’s only road that is a National Historic Landmark and National Civil Engineering Landmark.
The WOW factor of experiencing the awe of Glacier National Park firsthand, on a bicycle, with no cars, is a bucket-list item and you should absolutely do it. On our bikes we had the time and space to enjoy every detail of the National Park, without worrying about traffic or crowds. The ride follows the cascading waters of McDonald Creek for the first few miles, and we could see the road way up ahead winding up to Logan Pass. We stopped on the bridge crossing Logan Creek to view the stunning 492-foot Bird Woman Falls. These falls are always in shadow when we have come up before and it was such a treat to enjoy the full view of the falls in the sunlight. We arrived at the West Side Tunnel, stopping to marvel at this 192-foot long tunnel and the windows that peek out at Heavens Peak dominating the horizon ahead. At the Loop, the road makes a sharp180-degree turn and the 10 mile climb to Logan Pass begins. We captured a photo of the 490 foot Haystack Falls cascading underneath the road and then plunging further down the valley. We rode past the Weeping Wall, a 100-foot long feature of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, best viewed in early season when water “weeps” over the rock face of the road and we saw plenty of water flowing today. The Triple Arches are one of the engineering marvels of the Sun Road, and we spent time gazing at the construction of these three stone arches. At the summit we were greeted by a lonely mountain goat, who watched us go by. We ate dinner on a bench in the empty parking lot as we waited for the full moon to rise. After some time we decided that we had better start back down before the sun set and what a thrilling ride, all the way to the Avalanche Creek road gates, 32 miles total. We stopped a few times going down to get a different perspective of the mountain scenery from the Sun Road. We drove into Lake McDonald to see the red sunset lighting up the water 10pm at night. What an experience, we will always remember, and one you should absolutely do at least once in your lifetime. Click on thumbnail to view images
Bicycling the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Hike to Hidden Lake
On Saturday, July 13th, we rode the Going-to-the-Sun Road again but this time I wanted to ride my road bike because I bought the bike jersey with the Going-to-the-Sun Road logo. This time we left early in the morning and parked on the road beside Lake McDonald because there was no more parking places further up the road, where we had left from Avalanche Lake parking lot before, and the road was closed. Therefore, we had a longer ride today to Logan Pass, but the best part was that there were still no cars on the road. Also, the light on the peaks was totally different because we were there early in the day. It was a spectacular ride and so happy that I did it on my road bike this time.
We had our photo taken at the Logan Pass sign with my Trek road bike and the new well- earned Going-to-the-Sun Road bike jersey. It was still early so we decided to hike to Hidden Lake Overlook. However, it was a harder hike than we had anticipated because of all the snow we had to walk through in our bike shoes. But the view of the magnificent yellow Glacier Lilies was so worth the hike. WOW, what a fantastic sea of yellow everywhere you look, I was so impressed by the abundance of Glacier Lilies at this time of year. The yellow petals of glacier lilies bloom at the higher elevations around June, just as the snow melts, and have six yellow petals that curve upward toward the sky. They are now my favorite flower in Glacier National Park. We eventually made it to the boardwalk where we encountered a Mountain goat with a new baby watching us. At 1.35 miles we arrived at the Hidden Lake Overlook with outstanding panoramic views of the Lake and surrounding mountains. From this vantage point Bearhat Mountain (8,952 ft) is the dominating feature above Hidden Lake.
More Mountain goats were surrounding the overlook and a small Marmot was hiding under the deck. We soaked in the views of Mount Cannon, Fusillade Mountain, Gunsight Mountain and Sperry Glacier in the far off distance. We made it back through the snow, downhill was a lot easier, and back to the Hanging Gardens and the incredibly beautiful carpet of wildflowers. I rested in Savasana among the Glacier Lilies enjoying the peacefulness and beauty of this place. The ride back down was fast and we did a total of 40 miles on our bikes today. I highly recommend riding the Going-to-the-Sun Road on your bike without the hassle of cars on the road. What an unforgettable day, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!