On our first day at Many Glacier, we took it easy and ate breakfast at Heidi’s and enjoyed the lake view. Then we hiked around the lake in back of our hotel. This is called the Swiftcurrent Lake Trail Loop. We focused on taking pictures of the wildflowers and admiring the view. This was a very easy trail.
After the hike, we gathered our laundry and loaded it up in the car. We drove over to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and campground since our hotel didn’t have laundry facilities. I couldn’t find parking, so I let my sister off to take the laundry while I found parking. After we got the laundry going we went to Nell’s at Swiftcurrent Restaurant. We each got a sandwich (I think we got hamburgers) since this was going to be our main meal. After we finished the laundry and loaded it up in the car we found the trailhead for Fishercap Lake and Redrock Falls. However, we didn’t go very far before people were coming back and saying that there was a small bear in the meadow. Some people continued and my sister and I along with some others turned back. A small bear can hurt you too and if it is small; there may be a mommy bear nearby. It was later in the afternoon, so we also decided bear activity may increase so it would be safer to save the hike for another day.
Day 7 – Hidden Lake Overlook at Last!
We got up very early the next morning and drove back to the Going to the Sun road to Logan Pass. We left extremely early since it would be a long drive to the pass and we wanted to get there early enough to get a parking spot. There wasn’t much traffic at all on our way there. We were happy to find that the trail was finally clear of snow. (I think we may have had to go through a few little patches and there was still snow melting in areas around the trail. It was sunny and mild. We spotted a Marmot on the boardwalk and latter spotted a heard of goats on a distant slope. When we got to the overlook another heard of goats were coming up. We got to admire the scenery of the lake down in the valley as well as watch the goats frolic and graze around the overlook. It got a little crowded since everyone else was staying to take pictures and admire the scenery. We decided that our efforts of re-attempting the hike was well paid off. I posted a video on YouTube if you would like to see all the pictures and video that we took. This was definitely the highlight of our trip. We also saw some mountain sheep on a distant cliff from the visitor center. However, they were too far away to get any pictures. (We did spot some from the parking lot as we were leaving, but due to traffic we had to drive on and not take pictures.)
After we finished at Logan Pass, we drove to the east side and ate at Two Dog Flats again. We both had their huckleberry bbq sandwich. It was very moist and tasty. Since they didn’t have any huckleberry deserts, we decided to get their cherry pie. (Montana is also known for their cherries.) However, it turned out to be a mistake. It was the worse pie (or maybe even the worse desert) I have ever had. The crust was thick and not flaky at all. The pie filling was thick and gummy and it was more purple than red.
Then we found the parking for the St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trailhead. The beginning of the hike was very hot since the trees had been burned in a fire in recent years and didn’t provide any shade. It was mostly downhill, but not too bad. My sister wanted to turn around after the we got to St. Mary falls since it had been so hot and she was also concerned about going uphill on the way back. I was disappointed about not being able to finish the trail, but we were both relieved when we got back to the car (since we were getting hot and tired). We stopped in St. Mary and got some ice cream that had a variety of flavors.
Day 8 – A Fun Filled Day in Many Glacier
I had made a reservation for an early morning 1 hour trail ride at Many Glacier. It was just on the other side of the parking lot. My sister slept in and relaxed on the patio (especially after all that hiking) while I went on the ride. I was happy that the wrangler chose a paint horse for me. I had always dreamed of having a pony or horse and paints are one of my favorites. A family of four was also on the trail ride with me. I enjoyed the trip which was easy for all of us non-experienced horse people. I had been on many trail rides when I was younger, but I hadn’t had much recent experience.
After the ride, I cleaned up and my sister and I went to eat lunch at the fancy restaurant at our hotel called The Ptarmigan Dining Room. We had their daily special which was a beef pot pie with puff pastry crust. It was delicious and we were seated by a window so we had a great view too.
After Lunch, we continued with the activities by hiking to Grinnel Lake. It is 7.2 miles round trip if you hike the whole thing, but you can take a boat across Swiftcurrant Lake and Josephine Lake. We had purchased tickets to do this with a guided hike. The boat was full and most people were doing the guided hike also. You need to make your reservations as soon as possible because the boat tours (especially those with guided hikes) book up quickly. We caught the first boat at the dock behind our hotel and then you hike a short distance to the next lake. Then we took another boat across lake Josephine. From there, we hiked to Grinnel Lake. The guide made sure that everyone stayed together and stopped and told stories or told us about some of the flora and fauna in the area. When we returned, we got some hot chocolate and watched the sunset.
Day 9 & 10 – Farewell to Glacier
After all the hiking from the last two days, we decided to stick to shorter easier trails. We drove back to The Going to the Sun Road, but just did Beaver Pond Trail which is on the eastern edge of the park. It is a 3.5 mile trail with only 300 feet elevation gain. This trail also is a loop, so you don’t have to backtrack. We came across areas that had tall brush, so you definitely want to wear pants. There weren’t very many people there, so we were very cautious about watching signs for bears and being very aware of our surroundings. At one point we came across two ladies coming the opposite direction. They had seen a bear up the way we were going. However, it had already crossed the path and was going down. We decided to continue on since we were more likely to come across it if we double backed and went downhill (which had been the direction it had been heading). We never came across it, but we did see some dear by beaver pond.
Then we returned back to Many Glacier and decided to go to Swiftcurrent again to see if we could do the Redrock Falls trail. We got there in time and there were no warnings about bears. This trail was heavily used, so we decided to give it a try. Since it was afternoon, we watched the time because we didn’t want to be out on the trail too late. Bears tend to come out more in late afternoon and early evening. We opted to forgo doing the spur to Fishercap Lake (it wasn’t as if we hadn’t seen a lot of lakes already) in order to make sure we had time to get to the falls and back to the parking lot before it was getting too late. There were always people on the trail ahead and behind us, so we figured we were alright. As far as bear safety goes, you are more likely to be attacked if you startle a bear. You should make noise so that bears know you are coming. (So if you have noisy kids- that’s great!)
After the hike we packed up everything in the car that we didn’t need and got everything ready to head back home. We were sad, but decided to drive back over the Going to the Sun Road in the early morning (instead of the highway) and stop at some shops again before leaving Montana. You can’t take bear spray on the airplane, so we followed one person’s suggestion and decided to give it away before leaving. We stopped at the West Glacier visitor center on our way out. One of the Rangers was giving a talk about bear safety and recommending that everyone have bear spray and told them how to use it. After that, my sister and I asked people in the crowd if anyone wanted ours. One lady took one and said she would just take one so another group could have the other. That worked out great!
We drove a different route on the way back to Spokane. We stayed in Coeur D’Alene Idaho for the night. The main thing I didn’t like about this route was part was in wide open area that was quiet dull and tiring after all the hiking. When we reached Idaho, the highway had very long and steep grades. (I would have hated to drive that in bad weather.) They even had lanes for trucks to get in encase their breaks went out. We checked into a Hampton Inn and then went to a nearby restaurant that the hotel front desk person recommended. It had outdoor patio seating which was a nice way to end our vacation. We had an afternoon flight, so we spent the next morning driving around checking out the town. The area around the lake was pretty, but we had trouble finding the downtown shopping area. We had just enough time to look at a local knitting store before we left for the airport. I found some kits to make knitted animal hats for my cousins’ grand children. I like supporting small businesses when we are on vacation (as well as one’s at home).