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Hidden Lake Trail, Glacier National Park

Mother and baby mountain goats

Mother and baby mountain goats

We rarely hike a trail more than once. We only make an exception to this rule if the trail is either near our home or extra spectacular. Glacier National Park’s Hidden Lake Trail is definitely the latter. We first hiked the trail in 2010. It was the dream day hike: epic views, short mileage, and lots of wildlife. We decided it was time to relive that experience this year, and we’re glad we did.

The trail begins at Logan Pass, behind the visitor center. The amazing views start immediately. Clements Mountain with glaciers at its base dominates the scene. Alpine meadows spread out on either side of the boardwalk path.

View of Clements Mountain from Hidden Lake Trail

We scanned the cliffs looking for mountain goats and bighorn sheep. No luck there. Instead we spotted a weasel dashing under the boardwalk and into its hole 20 feet away. You never know what you’ll find!

After a short one-and-a-half mile walk, the trail reached the Hidden Lake Overlook. The lake and surrounding peaks were unbelievably beautiful.

Hidden Lake

While taking in the views at the overlook, we heard people murmuring of mountain goats a quarter mile further up the trail. We moved onwards eager to see these fascinating creatures.

The rumors were correct. We found five mountain goats, including a youngster, resting in the shade off to the side of the trail. We sat down on a large rock slab to observe them from a distance. Mountain goats can withstand fierce winter blizzards but are poorly adapted to the heat. To keep cool on this hot day, they napped in the shade, only occasionally getting up to move to a new spot.

Mountain goat

When we weren’t watching the mountain goats, we were simply enjoying the sunshine and glorious views.

Overlooking Hidden Lake

Then, as if the hike couldn’t get any better, a bighorn sheep came around the edge of a rocky outcrop right below us!

Bighorn Sheep near Hidden Lake

A minute later several of his friends followed. They found some tasty plants and began grazing.

Grazing bighorn sheep

As the sheep ate they gradually worked their way closer to Hidden Lake. Bighorn sheep are large animals, but the enormous peaks all around seemed to shrink the sheep to miniature size. (Sheep are barely visible in bottom left of image below.)

Bighorn sheep (bottom left) next to Hidden Lake

Anna’s trail name of “North Star” came from her love of maps, and she was excited to mentally connect Hidden Lake to the rest of Glacier National Park. She learned that the outlet of Hidden Lake, named Hidden Creek, flows into Avalanche Creek, which we had hiked alongside a few days earlier. We could visualize the course this water would take.

We lingered above the lake for a long while, but finally it was time to go. The walk back down to Logan Pass was quite scenic in its own right.

Hidden Lake Trail

Hidden Lake is one of those places that as soon as you leave, you start plotting your next visit. We’ll be back!

TRAIL SUMMARY

Trail: Hidden Lake Overlook
Location: Glacier National Park (Montana)
Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation gain: 460 ft, easy
Usage: About 400 people on a Sunday in September

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a special treat to see all those mountain goats! Thanks for sharing the pictures from this hike and all the others! I love it!!

    November 7, 2013
  2. Sabrina #

    It’s a ‘WOW’!!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures!

    November 7, 2013
  3. wow – that looks really great…

    November 7, 2013
  4. Wow, nice find! Looks like the perfect hike!

    November 7, 2013
  5. Jan #

    Absolutely gorgeous pictures! Thanks for taking us on your hike with you.

    November 7, 2013
  6. margaret #

    How far were you from these animals? They seem to not be afraid of people!

    November 8, 2013
    • The animals appear closer in these pictures because we used a zoom lens and cropped the photos tighter once we got home. The mountain goats were about 50 feet from the trail. While somewhat accustomed to people, they are definitely still wild and the mother goat stood up and got protective when a rude photographer tried to get too close. The bighorn sheep were close in horizontal distance (maybe 75 ft away) but down a steep cliff from where we sat.

      November 14, 2013
  7. Eh gads sharing a 3-mile trek with 400 people sounds like a nightmare! Unbelievable you were able to grab some shots minus people. Beautiful area, but it feels a bit too crowed to me, I’ll hope to grab some of this beauty on a less traveled route.

    November 8, 2013
    • Yes, that’s our preference too. Solitude is often why we opt for a backpacking trip rather than a day hike. However, we are very glad that easy and magnificent trails like these exist. It enables more people to directly experience the place. The more people that fall in love with places like these, the more people will vote and/or work to protect wilderness areas in the future.

      November 14, 2013
  8. What incredible scenery! Those mountains have such a unique character. Makes me want to go visit the Rockies immediately!

    November 8, 2013
  9. Girl Gone Expat #

    It looks awesome! Now I really regret not doing the hike when we passed by! :)

    June 15, 2015

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