It's tricky to gauge if you’ll be comfortable on a trail when looking at labels like “easy,” “moderate,” or “difficult.” And even harder when you try to apply those labels to the hiker. Am I a moderate-level hiker? If you compare me to dudes that hike up a mountain for two days, then no. I am a beginner at best. But compared to other “day hikers,” those who hike 10-mile loops, then yeah, I would say I am in the moderate range.
I can hike about 10 miles on mostly flat ground before I get cranky. If the elevation gain is greater than 1,500, that distance drops down to about 6 miles. If we’re talking 2,000 feet of elevation gain, I'm complaining pretty much from mile two.
Now that you know what kind of day hiker I am, here are a few hikes around Glacier National Park that were in my comfort zone or just out of it.
Check it: always check to see if a trail is open. Nature doesn't care about our plans. Harsh weather, bear activity, and time of year can close all or part of a trail. I like to use the AllTrails app or the National Park Service website to check on the status of a trail.
Lion Mountain Trail
2.6 miles | 351 ft | Loop
The effort-to-payoff ratio for this trail is in your favor. I hiked Lion Mountain Trail in Whitefish, MT (30 minutes from Glacier) to get used to the elevation and to get those hiking muscles working again after the long drive from Atlanta, GA. The view of the lake is beautiful. I even found a piece of free art at the top.
Check it: this trail is dusty af. Don't wear your good boots unless you want to clean them after.
Danny On Trail
7.2 miles | 2,034 ft | Out-and-back
This trail was a challenge. I foolishly assumed that the 7.2 miles of this out-and-back trail accounted for both out and back. Turns out, it's just out. Two things made this hike worth it — the views and the wild huckleberries I ate along the way. Okay, three things. The ski lift I was able to take back down the mountain saved my day from disaster.
There's a bar and restaurant at the summit so, if you're reading this post-covid (if that will ever exist), have a beer for me.
Check it: The elevation for this trail is not easy. No shame in taking the ski lift down, like I did. I can't remember the cost but wasn't too bad. Maybe like 10-15 bucks. Honestly I would've paid a hundred.
Hidden Lake Trail
5.3 miles | 1,374 ft | Out-and-back
There's a reason why this trail is popular. The views are incredible from start to finish, and there's a good chance you'll see some wildlife. I was lucky enough to spot a Ram on the mountains and a mountain goat grazing just a few feet from me. The trail was closed from the lake overlook on due to bear activity when I was there. But, I didn't feel like I missed out. It was one of my favorite hikes.
Check it: Parking can be a challenge at Logan Pass Visitor Center (where the trailhead is located). I had better luck early evening, around 4-5pm than the mornings.
This one will take a bit of planning to get there. But don't worry, I'll show you what you need to know.
The aptly named Wildhorse Island sits in Flathead Lake, about 40 miles south of Whitefish, MT. The goal of this hike is to find wildlife. So, be a little flexible with your trail but still be mindful of your surroundings, location, and time.
This day trip was one of the first times I can remember feeling genuinely amazed; like damn, I’m here in the Wild West looking at fucking goats, and, of course, wild horses.
It’s about an hour's drive to get to the lake from Whitefish (1hr 30min from West Glacier). There, you can take a boat, rented or chartered, to the island. I opted to pay $40 for Boat Rentals and Rides to boat me to shore and pick me up 3 hours later (again, be mindful of your time). The boat rental place is right on Flathead Lake. It’s about a 15-minute ride from shore to shore.
Check it: You'll want to make sure you book a few days in advance. The further out, the better as the boats tend to fill up days in advance.
Boat Rentals and Rides
Here's a full list of the trails mentioned (minus Wildhorse, follow instructions above) with directions, reviews, and other important info: Trails Under 10 Miles Near Glacier National Park
Buy me a coffee on Venmo: @jasondotgov
Do you have any favorite hikes near Glacier National Park? Hit me up anytime. I’m interested in hearing from you.
If you know someone who may benefit from this article or the Untethered newsletter, please share.