Hiking to Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana
The hike to Hidden Lake has to be one of the best and prettiest hikes in Glacier National Park in Montana that is fairly easy for anyone to do.
The hike leaves from Logan Pass, and you will start out hiking 1.5 miles to the Hidden Lake Overlook. The elevation gain in this section is 500 feet (or so I read). Remember to arrive at Logan Pass early to be sure to get parking in the small lot!
The views once you reach Hidden Lake Overlook and start to descend will take your breath away. The sparkling blue lake below you, the mountains surrounding you, the rock cliffs to your right, and Lake McDonald ahead of you in the distance … all of these things combined make me want to return again and again!
This hike is also a fantastic place to see mountain goats and their cute kids!
You can see the entire trail down to the lake once you leave the Hidden Lake Overlook and start to head the remaining 1.5 miles one-way down to the lake. If you look down to the far right edge of the lake from the overlook, you can see the beach you will be heading for by hiking down to the lake.
You start out by passing several large rocks on your left that have gorgeous views of the lake. These are even better than the views from the overlook, and it is worth stopping for a photo, but don’t stop here for lunch. You have a beautiful rock beach waiting for you to enjoy your lunch on.
The trail is actually quite steep and rocky, which makes it surprising how many people make the trek down to the lake. But anyone can make it if you take your time, but it is not as “easy” as a lot of websites refer to it.
Going down will wear on your knees, and going up there are a lot of large steps you have to take up rocks, and I stopped a few times to “enjoy the view.” (I was actually catching my breath, but don’t tell anyone.) I couldn’t decide which way was harder, but once you get to the lake overlook on your way back, it is all downhill from there.
Your descent will take you 700 feet down to the lake.
The end of the trail pops you out onto the most perfect rock beach in the world. Crystal clear water awaits you. You can see every rock in the bottom of this lake.
This is an untouched piece of paradise that you won’t have to share with many others.
If you head to your right once you reach the lake, you can follow the beach to your right to reach the outlet. You will follow a trail that runs parallel to the beach for a short way to reach the outlet. This is a gorgeous creek running away from the lake.
Right before the outlet on your left is the perfect spot for lunch. This spot gives you beach access, but also gives you some shade with the trees, which is hard to find on this beach that faces the sun.
If you continue to follow the trail that runs parallel to the lake, it will take you about 200 yards to a waterfall. We didn’t make it to the waterfall, because the day we were there there was a grizzly bear sow and cub at the waterfall fishing. We did not want to run into them!
You also can cross the creek if you want to explore — there are logs that lay across the creek that many people walked over, but I was so hot at that point I just soaked my sneakers and walked through the creek.
Once you cross the creek, the trail continues on from there, through the woods behind the lake. It will take you to a smaller lake to your right, but we turned around once we reached that lake because the trees were pretty thick and not cut back from the trail, and all of the branches were in the way of our baby in the pack. If I were you, I would explore back there further, as it looks like there are stunning green meadows right on Hidden Lake farther down, with swimming access to islands not far from shore.
Bring your swimsuit! The water is actually not as cold as you would expect, especially late in the summer when (most) of the snow has melted! After the long hike, you will probably want to cool off. At least be sure to stick your feet in, breathe in the fresh air, and remind yourself that you can come back to this spot again in your lifetime.
There is a pit toilet at the lake for your use, also.
This spot is literally one of my favorite places on earth now … so tranquil, relaxing, and the water is absolute perfection. I could spend a summer on this beach.
Do yourself a favor; don’t stop at the Hidden Lake Overlook, continue your trek and enjoy your lunch at the beautiful beach on Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog