“Travel through a burn area that gives you a great view of Lake McDonald.”
— Jake Bramante
Birding · Lake · Spring · Views
Bring bear spray.
Just after entering Glacier National Park at the West Entrance, a sign points you towards the trailhead. Follow the road over McDonald Creek and up the dirt road to the trailhead. Earlier in the season, the road may be partially closed before the bridge due to high water or snow so be sure to check.
The trail starts off level, wandering the base of the Apgar Mountains through a mix of burned and non-burned forest. This area can have water on the trail early in the season as you cross over a few creeks, but should be mostly dry later in the summer. You fairly quickly break out into the burn area and follow that for the rest of the trip.
The burn area provides nice birding, great views and no respite from the sun as the entire trip is on a south facing slope. Once it starts climbing, it does so at an earnest, but manageable grade. With each step, the views of the Middle Fork Flathead River below and out to the valley south of the park only get better.
After only two real switchbacks, the trail wraps around the mountain, back into trees, through a saddle to the unstaffed lookout. Views of Lake McDonald are great with a couple of trees partially getting in the way of photos. The lookout is a great place for lunch with great views all the way around. This is one of the earlier trails to open up in the spring that gain some elevation.
A fun pastime is to visit the park's site while up there to capture a selfie from their webcam.
This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com
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Flora & Fauna
Great forest birding along the trail. Opportunity for a wide variety of wildlife, from bears to elk, but not super common.