Hidden Lake Overlook Trail Glacier National Park ~ a slow hiker's guide


Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is one of the busiest view trails in Glacier Park

Logan Pass Trail Map

  • Hidden Lake Trail
    3 miles (round trip)
    elevation gain 460 feet
    trail starts at over 6,500 feet
    boardwalk steps are steep
    Heavily traveled trail.
    Full Shuttle Service to both sides of park
    ;Easy lots of folks have trouble with the steep steps on the board walk section, especially on your knees

There can be snow on this trail any month of the year

Mountain goats are usually in this area and around the overlook. Do not crowd, feed or pet the goats.
Do not get between a mother goat and her babies. Mountain goats will stop to eat wild flower blooms next to the boardwalk no matter how crowded the boardwalk gets. This is especially true in late summer when the Lewis Red Monkey Wildflowers bloom.
Hidden Lake Trail starts at the Visitor Center for Logan Pass. There is a paved ramp up or you can take the steps. During the record breaking snow year of 2011 the meadows behind the visitor center were partially snow free with the start of glacier lilies blooming on July 1, 2013 the. With the very high temps the first week of July I expect the meadows to be snow free and covered with flowers instead of snow in a very short time.
Parts of the boardwalk were already snow free on July 1 2013. The trail, marked by wooden stakes or yellow posts wanders its way up the slope towards Clements Mountain. (see photo above) The trail continues its gentle ascent which will still be snow covered up the slopes and across the various meadows until it goes past the waterfall on the right with for now its hidden wooden bridge. The trickiest part of the trail is after the waterfall as the trail goes around the glacier moraine. As of July 1, 2013 only the tip of the moraine was visible and the temporary trail was near the peak with a sharp very tricky turn through the snow. After that the trail goes up slowly to the subalpine fir and then down to a little meadow which seems to remain snow clear no matter what the snowfall. Another series of boardwalks and crossing a snow bridge. Up another slope along the long abandoned telephone cable from the 1930's. From this point to the overlook deck the trail is across rock ledge which for now will be crossed by melt-water from the upper slopes. The overlook was replaced a few years ago.

Hidden Lake Overlook summer sunset. © Shawn Coggins www.glacierhikers.com

Glacier lilies can start to bloom within hours after the snow melts

A slow hikers guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers
Available on iBooks wildflower book cover

A slow hiker's guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers

Whitefish Pilot article on my Wildflower Guide.

As of 9-5-11 Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is completely ice and snow free. Hidden Lake Trail remains closed and the closure is being actively enforced. There are patches of snow near the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and there are skiers and boarders still attempting to ski/board on those rapidly shrinking patches of snow. As of 8-13-11 Hidden Lake Trail, not Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is completely ice and snow free as is the trail on the western side of Logan Pass. The trail on the eastern side still has snow as of 8-20-11.

As of 8-20-11 conditions on Hidden Lake Overlook Trail are much safer then last week. The trail crew has shoveled out six feet of snow from the bridge on the Hidden Lake Trail that was hidden under the snow. The trail crew has also shoveled out the snow on the knoll after the bridge. Then the trail crew went on up to Hidden Lake Overlook and removed the overlook. It was an eerie feeling as I neared the former site of Hidden Lake Overlook and saw neat piles of used lumber to the right of the trail. Then signs proclaiming 'special maintenance' Oh the wonders of gov speak. Hidden Lake Overlook was removed by the NPS Trail Crew sometime between August 15 - August 19, 2011. So for new visitors to this trail you will need to wait until next year to enjoy a overlook deck. Hiking this trail without ski or hiking poles is still on the tricky side especially on the return.
If your looking for a peaceful, uncrowded hike then your on the wrong trail. Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is one of the most popular trails in Glacier Park and has some of the best views in the park from the deck of the overlook. Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is a fairly easy hike which starts behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Hidden Lake Overlook Trail starts at 6,646 feet and gains 511 feet, so even though this is an easy trail, the altitude can alter how easy you find this trail. Weather conditions change rapidly on this trail! Although I have hiked up to the overlook and back without meeting a single person, it is rare. I've hiked this trail at least sixty times in the last twenty one years, so I've gotten pretty good at guessing when it won't be crowded. When the trail is snow covered I wear snowshoes and carry hiking poles. There are some narrow, steep drop off sections on this trail that are the last to be snow free. Hiking across snow can be tricky, easy to twist your ankle or tweak your knee. Despite being the second most popular trail in Glacier Park, sadly trail work while the trail is snow covered is minimal at best.

Snow bridges caused by spring melt undercutting the snow above can be hazardous.

When the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is snow covered, Glacier National Park usually marks the trail, for your own safety follow the markers for the trail. Winter is loosening it's hold for the moment on Logan Pass, snow is melting quickly, wildflowers are blooming in there short, brief span of sunlight and warmth. Traveling across rapidly melting snow can still be hazardous. The major glacier lily bloom has come and gone for 2011 at the meadows behind Logan Pass Visitor Center. Big Horn Rams are once again taking up residence in the meadows just behind the Visitor Center.

Be prepared for winter like conditions at any time, any month.

hazard sign glacier park © shawn coggins

While it may be hot and sunny in Apgar or St Mary it can be cloudy, cold and windy at Logan Pass. Blue footed hikers walking across the snow covered trail in late July is a yearly occurrence on the Hidden Lake Trail. If memory serves me correctly their is a bird called the blue footed boobies.

One day you can be at Logan pass and the snow is pilled up to the edge of the roof at the Visitor Center a week later the snow, if conditions permit, can now be a pile 4 feet deep. Once the snow start to melt at Logan Pass it generally goes fast. Equally quick are the glacier lilies which can carpet the meadow shortly after the snow is gone. The other wildflowers, notably the Lewis Monkey Flower might not bloom until summer is almost over up near the moraine. The mountain goats are very, very fond of the Lewis Monkey Flower blossoms.

Logan Pass Visitor Center Glacier Park  6-15-10 nps photo