I know we just wrapped up summer, the traditional time to hit the road and visit national parks, but friends - now is the time to make your plans for next summer! Why? Well, because campsites and lodging fill up quickly!
If you want your pick of picturesque views and quaint Airbnbs, now is the time to pull out the calendar, request your vacation days, and prepare to fall in love with a national park near or far.
Perhaps better than getting logistics in line for a national park adventure is all the time you have to daydream. Truly there is nothing better than reading and researching about all the glorious sights!
Still on a high from our trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, I’m excited to share five beginner hikes that showcase the beauty of the park. Honestly, Glacier stole my heart and I can’t wait to visit again. I have about 15 more hikes on my bucket list there! But, these are wonderful starters ones suitable for new hikers, young children, and anyone ready for a breathtaking experience.
This 0.8 loop is probably the most family-friendly hike at Glacier. My not-yet-two-year-old managed to walk the majority of it! It is also wheelchair/stroller accessible. As you meander through cedar trees keep watch for the poetic markers - the make for a serene stroll through the woods for sure.
Tip: Plan to stop by one of the stream outlets and dip your toes in the cool glacier runoff.
If you want higher odds of seeing mountain goats and bighorn sheep, this trail is for you! It begins as a boardwalk through wildflowers - the prettiest assortment of blues, reds, purples, and yellows. You can do the whole 2.8 mile out and back trek or stop when the boardwalk ends, totally up to you!
Tip: Parking can be a real bear at Logan Pass so aim to start this hike very early or after dinnertime to hopefully miss the rush.
Lake McDonald is hailed as one of Glacier’s most beautiful spots and it is! My oh my, those color rocks will just have you swooning. But what most people miss is the look from above Lake McDonald, and Rocky Point Nature Trail takes you there. The total trail is 3.9 miles out and back, but as always, you can do as much or as little as you like. For us, this was the least trafficked trail, no parking problems at all.
Tip: Pack a picnic! At the top there are gobs of giant boulders you can sit on to relax and eat.
I am all about destination hiking. Give me a waterfall to see AND I WILL SEE IT! This area actually boasts three main waterfalls and a number of smaller, unnamed ones. St. Mary and Baring are the first two you’ll encounter, and if you’ve got the time you can trek beyond and see Virginia Falls (my personal favorite). It is a steeper climb to that one, but well worth the effort! We tracked just shy of 5 miles out and back. Similarly to Hidden Lake, prepare yourself to hunt down a parking spot during more popular times.
Tip: Pack extra water and sun protection! This area experienced a fire a few years back and thus there is no tree coverage.
I saved the shortest for last! The walk to Running Eagle Falls, also called Trick Falls, is just 0.6 miles. It’s one of those minimal effort/maximum payout adventures, a must! I’ve actually never heard of a waterfall like this - it’s a two in one, hence the “Trick” nickname! One waterfall tumbles over the rocks like traditional falls, while the other sources from a cave-like area inside the rocks. Depending on the season/flow, you may only see one, but the potential for two is there!
Tip: Don’t miss the historical sign at the trail entrance. Running Eagle was an amazing woman I just wish we knew even more about her!