Glacier National Park: Highline Trail Hike, Logan Pass to The Loop

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Glacier National Park: Highline Trail Hike, Logan Pass to The Loop

Widely considered one of Glacier National Park’s best day hikes, the nearly 12-mile Highline Trail hike, Logan Pass to The Loop brims with glacial views, alpine wildflowers and wildlife. The trail is relatively flat and fast, so 12 miles will go by quickly – the elevation gain is just 800 feet overall. For the most stunning mountain views without thousands of feet of climbing, plus the opportunity to spot wildlife, the Highline Trail from the Logan Pass parking lot is your best choice in the park. Here’s all you need to know about the epic day hike of Highline Trail, Logan Pass to The Loop.

Highline Trail Logan Pass to The Loop: The Details

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Distance: 11.6 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 5-7 hours

 

When to Go: Open when Going-to-the-Sun Road is open, usually late June/early July to mid-October.

 

Note: As this is a point-to-point hike, you will not be returning to the same place you started. Use the free park shuttle to get back to your car. Check to ensure that the park shuttle is stopping at The Loop (the end point). Otherwise, you will have to arrange for someone to pick you up.

 

Parking: If you are starting at the Logan Pass parking lot, aim to arrive before 7:30 AM to find a parking spot. The lot is typically filled by 7:45 AM. At certain times of the high season, Glacier National Park requires a timed entry ticket to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road to limit traffic.

 

If you are starting at The Loop, you will need to arrive before 7:30 AM. The lot can only accommodate about 20 cars. From here, you can take the shuttle to the Logan Pass parking lot, do the hike from there and your car will be at The Loop waiting for you. The only drawback is that the first shuttle up to the pass isn’t until about 8:45 AM.

What Is the Highline Trail Like?

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One of the best parts of the Highline Trail comes right at the beginning! The trail is carved out from cliffs high above the twisting Going-to-the-Sun Road. Use the cable attached to the rock wall for a handhold if you wish during this narrow section of trail.

 

As you exit this portion of trail, you’ll start along the lusher Garden Wall, where the trail winds through small stands of trees, wildflower-strewn meadows and screen slopes. Depending on the season, there will be small waterfalls here and there. Have your camera handy – you’ll be pulling it out time and time again for the incredible views over Glacier National Park.

 

As you make your way, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, mountain goats and deer. At about the 3-mile mark, you’ll arrive at Haystack Pass, the biggest elevation gain in the hike. Head up the switchbacks to the pass for amazing views. From here, it’s mostly downhill to the Granite Park Chalet.

 

If you’d like, at this point, you can detour on the Grinnell Glacier Trail to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook, adding 1.6 miles (roundtrip) to your hike and 900 more feet of elevation gain. At the overlook, you will stand atop the Continental Divide.

 

Continue on to Granite Park Chalet, a National Historic Landmark (you can spend the night here if you make advance reservations!). Take a break, have lunch and use the rustic facilities. There is no potable water available. Continue downhill for 4 miles to The Loop.

What’s Special About the Granite Park Chalet?

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This rustic lodge is a National Historic Landmark and a unique accommodation choice when visiting Glacier National Park. Back in 1914 and 1915, the Great Northern Railway built chalets to offer comfortable backcountry lodging. This was the last chalet built and one of only two that have survived. The facilities are rustic, but the views are epic. There are limited facilities for water and you’ll be expected to pack everything out that you packed in. If you’d like to spend the night, plan to make advance reservations, at the very beginning of the summer.

More on the Grinnell Glacier Trail

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For a different approach to the Grinnell Glacier, start on the trail 0.5 mile past the turnoff for the Many Glacier Hotel. Or, take two shuttle boats across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, thereby shaving 3.4 miles off your roundtrip distance. You’ll get across Swiftcurrent Lake in about 8 minutes, then walk the paved trail to Lake Josephine. Board the shuttle boat and ride 12 minutes across the lake. Once you’re on the south shore of the lake, follow the trail to the right. Continuing around the south end of the lake, you’ll arrive at the North Shore Lake Josephine Trail junction. Veer to the right and start uphill to Grinnell Glacier. When you reach the Grinnell Glacier Trail, turn right to return to the Many Glacier trailhead, or go left to continue on to the actual glacier. You’ll start to see Grinnell Lake in the valley, as well as Angel Wing and Mount Gould. Watch for Grinnell Falls on the headwall above the west end of the lake.

 

Continue on past views of The Salamander glacier and Sherburne Lake, keeping an eye out for bighorn sheep and grizzly bears (carry bear spray). You’ll finally reach the Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint, from which your view encompasses the 152-acre glacier, Upper Grinnell Lake, the Garden Wall and 9,553-foot Mount Gould.

 

Staying in Many Glacier
In addition to camping options, the Many Glacier Hotel is located in the northeastern area of Glacier National Park. Known for its awe-inspiring alpine setting, this area is known as the “Switzerland of North America.” It’s an excellent jumping-off point for the Highline Trail hike, starting at the Logan Pass parking lot, or the Grinnell Glacier Trail.

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