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Going-to-the-Sun Road and Hidden Lake Overlook

Are you a Glacier Institute Member?
Please give us the 3 best date options for your Personalize Educational Outing.

Punctuated by the peaks around Logan Pass, the Hidden Lake trail ranks highly on people’s must-see list. Join us to explore the hanging gardens, the alpine meadows evocative of the ancient variety in Mesopotamia, produce in eye-popping color the ground-hugging plants like mountain pink and Glacier lily. What conditions beget these fairytale forms? What advantages do they confer? We’ll also examine the air of change in these alpine wonderlands as climate change shapes the landscape and redefines relationships. And there are few places better to catch a glimpse of the famous “beast the color of winter”—Glacier’s iconic mountain goats—as they grip craggy ledges, dine on rock-draped lichens, and slake their thirst on mineral licks from fault exposures and forgotten trekking poles!! These wooly rock-goats are fascinating studies of the alpine and exemplify the park as a refuge for these treasured species.

Meeting Place: Outside of The Glacier Institute Field Camp Library/Office

Meeting Time: 6:30am *we will confirm this time with you leading up to your tour

Anticipated return time: 2:00pm – 5:00pm *depending on pace of group

Recommended booking dates: Mid-July through September.

Physical Requirements: Easy- Moderate 

Distance (roundtrip): 2.7 miles / Total elevation gain: 540 feet

*This is your hike! If you wish to do just a portion of the trail we are happy to accommodate that

(Continuation to the lake, if conditions permit. Distance (roundtrip) 5.4 mi / Total elevation gain: 1,325 ft )   

Food: Please bring a trail lunch, snacks, and at least one liter of water. Please bring a pack to carry your lunch as we will be having lunch out on the trail.

Equipment: Bring rain gear, warm jacket, gloves, a hat, and comfortable hiking shoes. It can be cold, so plan on having lots of layers of warm clothes to add and shed as necessary. Please keep in mind that snow can linger at higher elevations in Glacier National Park well into the summer months. Binoculars are useful, but optional.

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute vehicle.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather. Please check the weather forecast in advance and refer to the gear list for proper attire.

Tentative Itinerary:

*Please note that times are approximate!

6:30am: Meet outside of The Glacier Institute Field Camp Library/Office. Brief overview before departure; we will discuss more details in the car.

6:30am - 7:30am: We’ll drive up the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass while learning about the history of the road, engineering decisions and the establishment of Glacier Park. Along the way, we will stop at a small turnout to witness the oldest recorded life form in prehistory and the deeper meaning its presence reveals! We’ll also have time to break into the forces that carved Lake McDonald, the jagged peaks, and the massive valleys that surround us. In the car we will make our introductions, we will have an overview of the day’s itinerary followed by a brief training in bear safety procedures, Leave No Trace Ethics, and trail etiquette.

7:30am - 10:30am: After reaching Logan Pass, we set off on the boardwalk trail towards Hidden Lake. Along the way, we will keep a sharp eye out for mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, and other charismatic animals that frequent this area.  We will learn about the overall ecology of these animals to understand their habitat requirements, dietary needs, and threats to their survival.

10:30am - 11:30am: Once we reach the Hidden Lake Overlook, we will pause for a leisurely snack while we take in the breathtaking scenery around us, on the lookout for grizzly bears! Depending on timing we could have lunch here as well.

*Here we will assess group desire and the trail conditions on whether or not we will continue down to the shores of the lake. (If we continue down to the lake we will have lunch along the shore before turning back to finish the day. This option will lengthen the tour a few hours.)

11:30am  – 12:30pm: On the return to Logan Pass, we will identify plants of this area and look at the various forms they take in these high alpine meadows despite high winds, freezing temperatures, and a snowpack that persists for most of the year!

12:30pm - 1:30pm: We will find an out of the way place to have our trail lunch near the visitor center. We will also allow for time for a visit into the visitor center and gift shop.

1:30pm - 3:00pm: We will head down the Going-to-the-Sun Road back towards Field Camp, stopping for any photo ops or wildlife sightings (where it is safe to do so). We will also make a stop at the Lake McDonald Lodge where we will discuss the significance of the historic chalet system.

3:00pm - 3:30pm: Wrap-up, Q&A, course evaluation forms.