I’m not exaggerating when I say that the trek to from the Logan Pass Visitor Center on Going-to-the-Sun Road to Hidden Lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever taken.
For most of the three-mile round-trip journey, I was surrounded on all four sides by towering peaks. Some were covered with dustings of snow that looked like powdered sugar gently sprinkled on top. Others were sunny and bare, aside from piles of rocks and bighorn sheep doing their best to blend in with the terrain.
Elsewhere, the aesthetically-pleasing sights became creeks, evergreen trees, alpine meadows, and snow patches that emerged around the trail. And of course, there’s the payoff at the end: Hidden Lake.
The Hidden Lake hike is a fairly busy one, so expect to see plenty of other tourists on the journey. But the crowds do thin out the further you go, and once you reach the Hidden Lake Overlook, you’ll realize the trip was more than worth it.
Hidden Lake is one of many great hikes in Glacier National Park. I could continue trying to describe the incredible scenery with more grandiose adjectives that feel inadequate, or I could just post the pics from along the route.
VIDEO: Glacier National Park Wildlife & Scenery
Photos from the Hidden Lake Trail in Glacier National Park
The initial portion of the trail is a paved sidewalk, which means that it’s wheelchair accessible for at least the beginning portion. That’s followed by an elevated boardwalk to keep people off the fragile plants. Clements Mountain (8760 feet) looms large up ahead.
Clements dwarfs a lone hiker:
I’ve hiked Hidden Lake Trail twice. The first time, I saw no mountain goats, which was rare and disappointing. The second time, I saw around 20 goats, many of them up close. Don’t be surprised if they cross the trail right in front of you!
Here’s an article detailing where I saw mountain goats in Glacier National Park on the hike.
Once you get a good distance into the hike, be sure to pause to look around in all directions. The views looking back are just as mind-blowing:
Look to the left to see Reynolds Mountain (9125 feet), which is likely to have snow even in summer:
You can notice all sorts of cool details if you keep your eyes peeled. My hike was led by Carrie from Glacier Guides, who pointed out that some of the rocks along the path have ripple marks from being underwater centuries ago.
If you see any little furry critters running around, those are likely marmots. They’re abundant at these high elevations and they hang out around the rocks and hillsides. I saw several on both of my hikes here. I also saw a large group of bighorn sheep.
Continuing on, the Hidden Lake hike passed through patches of snow as I got closer to the lake.
And finally… behold, Hidden Lake with Bearhat Mountain (8684 feet) towering behind it!
The overlook is the place to take your postcard photos of the Hidden Lake area.
If you’re so inclined, you can continue for another 1.2 miles down to the lake itself. But even just hiking to the overlook is guaranteed to provide a ton of great sights and photo opportunities. The entire experience on Hidden Lake Trail was a total nature overdose!
Specifics About the Hidden Lake Hike: Distance, Elevation, and More
To hike Hidden Lake, take the park shuttle or drive to Mile 32 on Going-to-the-Sun Road to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. During the peak summer months, arrive before 9 am if you want to have any prayer of getting a parking spot. Parking is brutal in Glacier NP, and park officials clearly haven’t yet figured out how to solve it.
Here’s the NPS map of the Hidden Lake Trail and all the other surrounding hikes. You can see that Hidden Lake is one of the shorter hikes in the area. It’s only 1.4 miles to the Hidden Lake Overlook, and then another 1.2 down to the lake.
For the first portion of the hike, the elevation gain is quite small (460 feet), so people who aren’t even regular hikers can do it. There are plenty of people of all ages, even little kids and seniors, who partake in the first half of the hike to the overlook.
The second half of the hike, another 1.2 miles down to Hidden Lake, is more challenging. Foot traffic drops off significantly on this part of the hike, as many people turn around at the overlook.
Going down to the lake is easy – you’ll walk through an open meadow and down a few switchbacks to arrive at the lake. Cool views from down here!
But remember that if you choose to hike down to the lake, you have to hike back up. It’s a tough, uphill climb with an elevation gain of about 770 feet. That’s a lot for such a short hike. Bring plenty of water and pace yourself.
There are a few thick forest patches near the lake, so have bear spray with you or travel in a group. I saw a handful of families and couples hanging out down at the lake having picnic lunches. It’s such a scenic spot to relax!
Overall, I highly recommend the Hidden Lake Trail as one of the top hikes in Glacier National Park. Other hikes I recommend for fit individuals who can do 8-10 miles: The Highline Trail and the Grinnell Glacier Trail hike. Both are exhausting but so rewarding! You may also want to check out Bowman Lake or take a tour with Native Americans on the nearby Blackfeet reservation.