After breakfast, with a great mountain view at St. Mary Lodge, it is time to head to Logan Pass for a short hike to Hidden Lake. It is 8am and looks a bit cloudy, but we’ll hope for the best as we drive just over 18 miles up Going-to-the-Sun Road from the eastern side of Glacier National Park. We’ll be climbing over 2,100 feet and the views will be gorgeous!
Mile 2.2–Singleshot Mountain rises above Two Dog Flats, where the prairie meets the mountains offering a rich and diverse ecosystem.
Across the road is St. Mary Lake, almost 10 miles long and usually riffled by wind. Today is no different except we have the beautiful autumn colors in the aspens, shrubs, and ground covers. Weather looks threatening in the mountains, but that won’t stop us.
Mile 4.8–Gorgeous autumn display along the road. I feel a few rain drops, but we have our rain coats so let’s go.
Mile 6.5–Wild Good Island Overlook. Wild Goose Island is an iconic Glacier Park view but usually there are so many cars and people, it is impossible to stop. This is great! We have the spot all to ourselves so let’s enjoy this beautiful area and view. WOW–look what just appeared–apparently just for us since we are the only ones here!
Quick, the other half to our behind us to the right. . .
Gone in less than five minutes. What a special gift just for us. Hope shining across the sky!
Mile 8–Rounding a bend in the road and there’s a Black Bear boar (male) sauntering along. He’ll be gone in no time so I’ll just get picture through the windshield, besides it’s raining.
Mile 9–The hillsides are just ablaze with color. We do not see peak color until mid-October as a rule so this is just amazing on September 19. Foretelling an early winter perhaps?
Mile 10–Trailhead pullout for St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. I think that may be Virginia Falls, but it is raining and starting to hail, so we’ll save this hike for another day. Notice upper right, Jackson Glacier. It is over five miles away and up ten miles. It sits on Mount Jackson, the fourth tallest mountain in Glacier at 10,052 feet.
Mile 15—Lunch Creek flowing from Pollack Mountain. This bend in the road is called Big Drift. I have a feeling it describes the winters here.
Mile 15.8— We are certainly driving into clouds now. Ahead on the road is the East Tunnel, do you see it? This is one of two tunnels on Going-to-the-Sun Road, the other on the west side. Can you tell why I only drive from east to west in Glacier? I’d rather be hugging the mountains than driving along the edge of cliffs. No much of a “guard rail” but this is the original design of the road. Certainly encourages slow driving.
Mile 16–There is water running off the rocks everywhere. There are lots of these small waterfalls along the road that drop into piping the goes under the road and allows the water to continue its journey to the valley floor.
Turning around toward the valley, we see the waterfall below the East Tunnel.
Reynolds Creek, flowing from Mount Reynolds near Logan Pass, is the centerpiece of the valley. The autumn colors are just spectacular.
Mile 16.3–There’s Logan Pass Visitor’s Center with clouds dropping down. Not sure about our hike, but we’ll see when we arrive. We also get a closer view of the waterfall beneath the tunnel.
Mile 18.1–Logan Pass, highest point you can drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road at 6,646 feet. From the parking lot looking east, a beautiful view of the mountains along the valley leading to St. Mary Lake.
There’s the East Tunnel again. Look at all the water pouring down the mountain side.
After a stop at the Visitor’s Center, it’s time to walk to Hidden Lake, but now it is raining, hailing, snowing a bit, and the pavement to the trailhead is slushy ice. It is 35º with no prediction of it getting warmer. Logan Pass sits right on the Continental Divide. One of the features of that designation is that they get storms coming from every direction dumping precipitation of all types on the Pass.
Although I’m dressed warm enough, this is just not fun with ice, snow, rain, not to mention the clouds dropping into the valleys and hiding everything from view. Highly unlikely that once we get to the overlook we can even see the lake. Well, this is the third time I was unable to take this hike. Sounds like a walk for next summer. Stay tuned.
With raincoat on let’s walk around the short loop trail behind the Visitor’s Center. Heavy Runner Mountain rises to 7,963 feet and has quite a bit of snow gracing is rocks.
Another view of Heavy Runner Mountain over the roof of the Visitor’s Center. There are still some fireweed in bloom. Not sure how they are staying so healthy with the freezing temperatures they’ve been experiencing here over the last few weeks. They are always beautiful to see.
Well, that’s our trip on the east side of Glacier along Going-to-the-Sun Road. We could have had better weather, but the more rain the more spectacular the waterfalls. How can there be a bad day in Glacier National Park? One last gorgeous view across the mountains leading back to St. Mary Lake.
Until next time when we drive from Logan Pass down the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald. Stay dry!