Hiking Rocky Point Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
The hike to Rocky Point on the west shore of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park in Montana is an easy, pretty hike that gives you access to isolated beaches and rewards you with views of the lake, the town of Apgar and the surrounding mountains.
To reach the trail head: Drive along Camas Road until you reach the turn on your right toward Fish Creek Campground. Just over a mile down the road you will reach a fork, and you will turn left onto the North Fork Road instead of right into the campground. Take the gravel North Fork Road for about a half of a mile until you will see the sign on your right for the Rocky Point trailhead and just past that on your left is a small parking lot.
Park in the parking lot and walk back down the North Fork Road to start at the trailhead.
The trail takes you down to a bridge that crosses over pretty Fern Creek, and then up a small hill where you will see part of Loop C of the Fish Creek Campground on your right. There is one small spot to get down to Fern Creek as you pass by, but there isn’t much space along the creek.
You will continue down the hill where you reach a fork, you will stay to the left to head toward Rocky Point. However, if you turn to the right, that takes you along some nice sandier beaches by the Fish Creek Campground, which are pretty and worth the stop for a swim.
Head left on the trail and you will shortly reach another fork:
Stay to the right at this fork. This is the loop that is the Rocky Point Nature Trail. Shortly after this you reach a small fork where it says to stay straight (or to the left) to stay on Rocky Point Trail. However, if you turn to the right, the trail takes you down a very short distance to Rocky Point and to a few pretty beaches that you will most likely have all to yourself.
We spent most of the afternoon here, lounging on the beach. It is a rocky beach, but if you are good at skipping rocks (which I am not unfortunately), the rocks here are all flat and smooth for skipping. Lay out a shirt and enjoy the afternoon sun in your face. The view here is stunning, looking toward Apgar and over the lake. This is a short detour that in my opinion makes the entire hike worth it.
You can then head straight back up to the main trail from the far end of your detour trail and continue along through the forest, where you will see the destruction caused by the 2003 Robert Fire that burned more than 136,000 acres in Glacier. This opens up the view for you to see the head of Lake McDonald:
You will then reach the Lake McDonald Trail Junction, and take a left to get back to the trail where you began and to the parking lot.
This is an easy, short (1.9 miles round trip) hike if you are looking for a hike to do with kids, or to have some time on Lake McDonald with fewer people. However, I read in many places before hiking that this hike was flat. While the hike is very easy, it is not flat. There are a few (very minor) hills, and I have read that the elevation gain is about 350 feet. I heard at least one person say that they were not going to continue beyond the beach.
I would mostly recommend the Rocky Point Nature Trail in Glacier National Park for the beach that you will likely get to yourself (especially if you are there early), or if you are interested in the Robert Fire and want to enjoy beautiful views of Lake McDonald.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog