Happy 4th of July! Do you have any fun plans to celebrate? David and I are actually in Canada. We left Montana and made it to Banff last night. Today, we are looking forward to hiking with friends from Boulder.
But in honor of the holiday, a post about visiting one of our finest National Parks!
We had a fantastic time exploring Glacier National Park.
During our visit we based in Columbia Falls at a terrific bed and breakfast, which I will be writing more about tomorrow.
On our first evening, we arrived just in time for dinner, so we headed to Backslope Brewing. Great food and beer! David had a flight and really enjoyed all the beers he tried, especially the chocolate hazelnut stout. The menu had everything from burgers, to veggie bowls with Asian flavors and tofu. Everything we tried was delicious. Of note is that last call is at 8pm due to restrictions the state of Montana has on breweries.
The next morning we were up bright and early so we could get to the park and beat the crowds.
We wanted to pick up some lunch to take with us, so we headed to Uptown Hearth because it opened at 7am (the earliest I found). What a fabulous little bakery! The food was so fresh (while we were there a local woman was dropping off eggs from her farm) and everyone was incredibly kind. A definite must-stop whether for breakfast, coffee and pastries, or some goodies to-go. We ended up getting turkey and havarti sandwiches as well as a delicious mushroom and broccolini frittata.
We arrived at the West Entrance to the Park at about 7:45am. The Park Ranger recommended we drive all the way through the park to the other side and hike Iceberg Lake.
This was the perfect suggestion because we got to drive across the whole park with hardly any traffic and the sky and clouds were fabulously dramatic, so the drive was spectacular. We pulled over several times to take in the views and stopped at Logan’s Pass to walk around. If you are going up to Logan’s Pass TAKE LAYERS. It was freezing! And windy! But beautiful.
After Logan’s Pass, we made our way down the other side of the park.
To get to Iceberg Lake, you actually exit the park on the east side and then head north towards “Many Glacier” where you re-enter the park. Then drive all the way to the end where there is a large parking lot. Even though we didn’t get there until about 9:45am we easily found parking.
There happens to be a little inn at the parking lot called “Swiftcurrent Motor Inn” which is ideal because you can use a real bathroom before or after you begin your hike. They also have a restaurant, so you can eat there instead of picking up sandwiches. This would be a convenient option, but we obviously already had food from Uptown Hearth, so we didn’t try it.
From here we walked to the Iceberg Lake Trailhead, an in and out hike that is 9.3 miles total.
We found the hike to be easy, pretty minimal elevation gain, but still great exercise because of its length. At the time there were shallow waterfalls that were easily crossed and every once in a while some snow to traverse, but it was packed down so didn’t pose any difficulty.
The views were spectacular and kept getting better and better.
At the end, you reach Iceberg Lake which is bright blue.
There was just enough traffic on the trail to help us feel a little less weary of bear activity.
We saw big horn sheep and heard about a bear sighting but didn’t see one ourselves.
After our hike we decided to drive back through the park the way we came so that we could see the views from a different perspective.
By then, the park was pretty packed and it was much slower going, it made us appreciate how much we had it to ourselves the first time through.
For dinner that evening we headed to North Fork Pizza. It’s a little hole in the wall but the service was delightful and we were surprised at the number of dietary restrictions they catered to; they had gluten free, vegan, and dairy free pizza options. Our salad was so fresh with beautiful dainty leaves of butter lettuce.
The next day we had to work all morning. The downside was that this prevented us from getting an early start in the park, but the upside was that we were able to indulge in the wonderful breakfast at our B&B.
Around noon we decided to head back to the park. Our intent was to hike Avalanche Lake via Trail of the Cedars. We knew this is a popular hike and as we neared the park we could tell it was going to be packed. If this hike is of interest to you, definitely go as early in the morning as you can.
We wanted to find something with a lot less traffic so we randomly decided to try Apgar Lookout.
When you enter Glacier from the west side you can get to Apgar Lookout by taking your first left (it’s clearly marked). You will then come to a horse stable on the right with a parking lot on the left. As you pull into this parking lot you will see a gravel road, follow the gravel road across a one lane bridge until it dead ends at the trailhead.
We didn’t know what to expect with this hike but we were pleasantly surprised.
Even though it’s only 3.5 miles to the top, it’s a tough haul. It’s difficult because of the long steady incline, but it is not technical in any way.
There are lovely wildflowers and great views along the way.
At the top there is a fire tower and an incredible 360 degree views of the mountains. You are literally surrounded by mountains all the way around! I was tired when we got to the top, but at least it’s down hill all the way back!
We also stopped off at Rocky Point. I wouldn’t go out of your way to get to this trail, but there were beautiful views that were very easily accessible. It is ideal for a quiet place to have lunch or if you are looking for a kid friendly hike.
On the way home we stopped by The Huckleberry Patch to pick up huckleberry pie (they also had homemade ice cream) to have with some Prosecco when we got back to our B&B.
Finally, we had dinner at Mudman Burgers which was exactly what we were looking for after a tough hike. It is a local fast food restaurant with a small menu: burgers, a chicken sandwich, fries, shakes, and their famous “Mud” (chili). We both got a chicken sandwich and I had mine wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. It was delicious, hearty, and fast, which is just what we needed.
Our short trip to Glacier was pretty much perfect. We saw a ton of the park, loved our hikes, and totally lucked out with the weather. I don’t think there was anything we would do differently!
Have you ever visited Glacier National Park? Is it on your bucket list?