Destinations

Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park

Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park

The Highline Trail was the first trail we hiked while in Glacier National Park. After driving around the park for half the day our first day there, we decided it was time to get outside. Since it’s right in the middle of the park and on one side of a very large valley, the Highline Trail is known for its beautiful vistas, wildflowers, mountain top views, and seas of alpine meadows. You might even see a mountain goat or two!

The Highline Trail is awesomely deceptive – by the looks of it, you’d think it was a very strenuous hike. I mean, how else are you going to get to see alpine meadows and scree like that? But since this trail doesn’t have much elevation gain, it’s actually a pretty moderate hike. With only gradual inclines and many flat parts of the trail, this is definitely not one you should miss.

HIGHLINE TRAIL

Trailhead: The visitor’s center at Logan Pass
Distance: 11.8 miles one-way
Time: about 5-7 hours
Total elevation gain: 1950 feet
Best time to go: July-August

Starting at Logan Pass, you’ll park at the visitor’s center and cross the road towards the trail. You’ll be hiking alongside a mountain and above but parallel to the Going To The Sun Road (the main road of the park) for a while. At about mile 2.5, you’ll have a couple of pretty long uphill climbs, including one long switchback (and some amazing views), but after that it’s a gradual downhill from there.

The only real difficulties you’ll face on this hike are the narrow trails, steep drop-offs, the scree (small loose rocks), and the high winds.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING ON THE HIGHLINE TRAIL:

Hiking boots/shoes. Because of the scree, you’ll want shoes with a very good grip.
Plenty of water. Bring at least 2 quarts per person.
Lunch. Hiking the entire trail will take you about 6 hours, so if you don’t bring food, you’ll be pretty mad at yourself.
Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. Since this is an alpine (i.e. above the treeline) trail, there won’t be much shade at all. Protect yourself from the sun on this long hike.
Bear spray. You’ll want to take bear spray with you everywhere in Glacier. You probably won’t ever use it, but you’re never too sure! (You can sell it back or donate your bear spray to many outdoor stores in the area if you don’t use it.)
A light jacket. Since I’m assuming you’ll be here in the summer*, a light jacket will do. It can get cold on this trail because of the wind. I suggest bringing a rain jacket since any good hiker knows that hiking this close to the Continental Divide at this elevation often promises a few unforseen thunderstorms.
Hiking poles. They aren’t necessary for everyone, but if you’re like me and don’t trust your own balance, go ahead and bring them for peace of mind while on the narrower sections.

*If you’re visiting in the winter you’ll need a whole slew of other things, so go find another blog post about Glacier in the winter! 🙂

Lastly, this is a great hike if you want to do just part of the hike. If you’ve only got a couple hours, hike 2 miles in and 2 miles back. The beauty of this trail starts at the trailhead, so you won’t miss much!

Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park
Hiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National ParkHiking the Highline Trail at Glacier National Park

I miss Glacier National Park so much – especially the Highline Trail. I can’t wait to go back to Glacier to do all the things I loved over again!

Have you been on any fun hikes lately?

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Danielle Des
    October 19, 2016 at 11:27 am

    These views are amazing and a 5-7 hour hike makes for a long enough hike where you really get to explore the area at length! I bet the air is so fresh at Glacier National Park.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      October 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      True, but there is even SO much more to see at Glacier. It’s so huge! And yes, coming from a city – the air is so fresh and crisp in Montana. I crave it!

  • Reply
    mark wyld
    October 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Some amazing view on this walk. Seems like an outdoor lovers delight. Your pictures really bring this adventure to life.

  • Reply
    Nina
    October 18, 2016 at 9:51 am

    My last scenic hike was in Tanzania, but the steepness to your hike cant be compared. Very pretty landscape.In the must have section I see you mentioned bear spray. How does bear spray work? I have to admit, i never heard for it before:)

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      October 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Bear spray comes in a small hand-held container that you spray at a bear if they are coming too near you. It’s basically pepper spray with higher amounts of the irritant so it actually works on bears. It’s only to be used if the bear is coming at you (i.e. aggressive bears). I’ve never had to use bear spray, and I’ve hiked in bear country all my life! 🙂

  • Reply
    Katie @ The Budget Backpack
    October 17, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    It’s been too long since I’ve hiked! I did it all the time in Korea, but Boston doesn’t have any transit-accessible hikes (though we do have some awesome nature walks). I don’t know that I’m hearty enough for a 6-7 hour hike, so its good to know that it possible to just part. Were there a lot of lodging options near the traihead?

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      October 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      No, none really near the trailhead. Lot’s of parking though. It’s easy to get around Glacier even if staying outside the park. And there are many campsites inside the park.

  • Reply
    Naomi
    October 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    No wonder you miss it, it looks amazing! Although the first image you posted, I though: NO WAY! It looks a bit scary with the rope and all, but the rest looks pretty doable. I think I would bring hiking poles with all those little rocks rolling around everywhere.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      October 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      It looks a lot scarier that it actually is! In that one particular place in the photo you’re talking about, the trail is pretty wide. You could probably fit 3 people shoulder to shoulder on that part of the trail. Not so bad! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda
    October 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Yay!!! I’m so glad to see you blogging again! Beautiful pictures as ever. Glacier Nat. Park has been on the bucket list for a while now…hoping to get over there sometime soon!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      October 20, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Oh you need to go. You’d love it. I’d love to go again and even in the winter (though most of the trails are closed during that time, I hear it’s just gorgeous). I KNOW you’d love it in the winter! 🙂

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