Glacier NP: West Side

What do you do when Going to the Sun Road is mostly closed?

As we mentioned before, we planned our Glacier trip at a pretty unfortunate time! June snow heavily impacted the main road through the park, making many of the hikes inaccessible. Pair that with much more rain than anyone expected and a handful of the remaining hikes were flooded out, bridges were broken and sometimes, highways were closed due to flooding!

Talk about unpredictable weather!

The two west side hikes we were most excited about were Avalanche Lake via the Trail of the Cedars and Hidden Lake up near Logan’s pass. Unfortunately, both of those were not accessible during our time in town, but we were guided by the rangers to other hikes in the area that were also be doable with a toddler and boasted stunning views.

Rocky Point Trail

The first really nice trail we did at the recommendation of the rangers was Rocky Point, near Lake McDonald. This was our first glimpse into what Glacier really had to offer, beautiful walks down to the freezing cold lakes- snow capped mountains being reflected into the water – and wildlife joining us on the trails.

This trail was only 2.2 miles total and an easy hike, great for young kids and even toddlers who can alternate between a ride In the backpack and walking stretches on their own. Our son took it upon himself to become Thomas the Tank Engine (“Tommy”). He called the trail his track and he literally chugged along making train sounds and circling his arms at his sides, much to the delight of all the hikers we passed along the way.

In the end, you get to a .. you guessed it… Rocky Point. A lovely outcropping of rock formations which was the perfect place for a break, some snacks, and to take in those mountain and lake views.

John’s Lake Loop

Well, I am not sure who John is, but we really enjoyed hiking on his trail. We paired this hike with Rocky Point since they were both on the shores of Lake McDonald and both short, easy hikes. John’s Lake Loop is just under 2 miles.

Similarly to Rocky Point, this is a beautiful walk in the woods and this was the first time a bunch of deer popped out onto the trail for a walk with us. One doe even crashed our 3 year old’s pee break in the woods! There are several places on the hike where the trail opens to a clearing to see John’s Lake and later Lake McDonald and soak in the beauty.

Every time the trail crossed over the river, we were reminded how high, strong and flooded the water was right now. The water was sooo high and moving so quickly from the recent snow and rainfall.

Lake McDonald Lodge/Boat Rides

When we finished up our two hikes, we popped by the Lake McDonald lodge for some snacks and were intrigued by the old log cabin vibe inside. When we walked through, we noticed they had an amazing view of Lake McDonald off the back porch and were still renting kayaks and motor boats for the day.

We usually aren’t very spontaneous people, but on a whim we decided to grab the last slot of the boat rentals for the day, not worry about our kiddos’ bedtime, and just go for it. It was one of our best decisions. Hey, maybe we should be spontaneous more often?

It was only $30 for an hour boat rental of a small motor boat. We grabbed our jackets and some oreos and hit the lake. We were rewarded with some of the most beautiful views putting a wonderful cap on a great day. Our son loved the boat ride just as much as we did, maybe more, and we would absolutely recommend a boat rental to take in the sights from the lake itself!

This day really went a long way to boosting our confidence that we could still hike, explore, and enjoy Glacier when the elements of snow and flooding were against us. One of our friends once relayed this quote to us, and we repeat it often “There’s no bad weather, only bad gear.” It’s become a sort of motto to make sure we still get out and enjoy all this planet has to offer, even when the weather isn’t ideal.

So much time so little to do! Strike that—reverse it.


One thought on “Glacier NP: West Side

  1. Yes. Spontaneous works great more times than not. You miss a lot of could have done in keeping a TIGHT schedule. Lovely pics and I am so glad you made it a fun fantastic trip even tho it was not what you originally thought it would be. It was beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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