Lake McDonald from Apgar Lookout west shore burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003 Glacier National Park. © Shawn Coggins glacierhikers.com

NPS Trail Report 5/25/12
Not passable for stock from Rocky Point to Campground
Trees Down: 20, 05/25/2012

Lake McDonald West Shore burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003. This trail starts in Fish Creek Campground and ends at the cabins near the end of the lake. Until you get into the cedar forest the trail is through the remains of the fire. Before starting the hike, I took my bike and chained it to a tree near the cabins at the end of the lake, returned by car to Fish Creek, hiked to the end of the lake and then biked back to Fish Creek Campground. Seven miles of trail & 18 miles of biking.

roberts fire Glacier National Park © Shawn Coggins glacierhikers.com

Since the Roberts Fire there is no shade on this trail. If you want to see the effects of a forest fire up close then this is a good trail. The Loop Trail to Granite Park is another trail showing the effect of forest fires up close. That was the Trapper Peak Fire of 2003. The West Shore of Lake McDonald Trail is a much easier hike and had a more diverse forest. The trail goes through burnt-out forest. In some of the areas regrowth has started, in others the fire burned so hot that the rocks cracked. In those areas the regrowth is minimal. Easy hike but be sure to look at the photo above before hiking, I enjoyed the hike, your mileage may vary. Another hike with the trees burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003 is the Apgar Lookout Trail. You can see the most of the area covered by the Lake McDonald Shore Trail from Apgar Lookout.

In the spring parts of this trail are very wet. Good boots are needed unless you want to hike with wet feet. The bark on the burned cedars comes off in one sheet, it's easy to take a nose dive if you step onto burnt cedar logs. You can see cedar bark shedding in sheets in the photo to the right.

I will be adding photos taken during the Roberts Fire from the eastern shore at a later date.

cedar burned bark Roberts Fire Glacier National Park © Shawn Coggins glacierhikers.com

Trillium ovatum was blooming in mid April 2007. 2011 has the potential to be a great wildflower year in the uper alpine ranges, once the snow melts in August.. With the current amount of snow on the ground at the lower altitudes (3,000 feet) there was a good wildflower year in the lower altitudes, tempered by hot dry weather in July after a very, very wet June.

lake mcdonald frozen 2007 Glacier National Park © Shawn Coggins glacierhikers.com

Lake McDonald was frozen the early part of March 2007, the month before I hiked/biked the West Shore Trail. Lake Mcdonald didn't freeze solid in 2009, but there is considerable snow cover in the valley floor. During the winter of 2010/2011 Lake McDonald again partially froze.