Hidden Meadow Trail, Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park’s Hidden Meadow Trail lived up to its name. The trailhead was about 3 miles south of the Polebridge ranger station on a small dirt road. It was so well hidden that we drove right past it. After backtracking, we discovered that that when heading south, the only sign was blocked by trees.
Evidently nobody else found the trailhead, as we didn’t encounter anyone on the hike. We had heard this trail offered good wildlife viewing opportunities. It was especially promising that no one was around to scare off the local creatures.
The trail led us through a forest which had burned about 25 years ago. The burn had destroyed almost all the old trees, but new trees were growing dense and strong in their place. Everything seemed quite dry, which made us think about how enticing the moist meadow would be to the wildlife.
This is a short trail, only 1.2 miles each direction, and we soon reached the grassy meadow. In the clearing, we were delighted to find a large pond with swans paddling about.
We scanned our surroundings while eating lunch in the shade of a solitary Douglas Fir. Dragonflies were plentiful, darting about and showing off their acrobatic flight skills. Crickets chirped as they hopped around in the grass. In the distance we spotted a large nest perched atop a tall dead tree. We didn’t observe any movement in the nest, but based on its size and proximity to a number of lakes, we think it was an osprey nest.
Although we didn’t see any predators, we saw a sign of their presence: some scat with a sizable bone fragment in it. Gnarly.
The peace and solitude we experienced on Hidden Meadow Trail was wonderful. One of the best parts of visiting a national park is going off the beaten path to have your own private experience of wilderness. Hidden Meadow Trail shows that you don’t always have to go far.