Maybe it’s because Tyler and I hadn’t been out hiking together in over 10 months, or maybe it was the golden larches. But in whatever it was this day was magical! We choose to hike Huckleberry Lookout specifically because it’s located in the midst of larch country.
Once the leaves are starting to turn and fall, the larches come alive, and turn the hillsides to gold in the late fall. The concentrated population of larches is on the west side of the Glacier National Park, so that’s how we came to be hiking Huckleberry Lookout in late October.
I’ve hiked this lookout in the summer as well, and while it’s gorgeous then too, I really do think fall is the ultimate season for this hike. Just like any lookout in Glacier National Park, you can expect to gain some elevation on the way up. Also it’s a good idea to get a decent start later in the season since it gets dark so early.
Huckleberry Lookout Breakdown:
Location: approximately 6 miles north of Apgar village on the Camas Creek road.
Mileage: sources varies between 5.8 and 6 miles one way, the actual trail sign says 6 miles.
Elevation Gain: 3,400′
Views: 360º views at the top, but mostly treed in on the way up.
Best time to hike: In my opinion late fall with the tamaracks is the best time. I’ve also hiked it in the summer months, and while it’s still beautiful, I’d recommend something more like the Highline Trail for high summer!
The day we hiked this, we got caught up at Lake McDonald all morning photographing some of the most gorgeous sunlit fog I’ve seen. Somehow the hours flew by, and we were getting started on the trail at 1:00pm.
We knew we’d be ok if we just made sure to keep our pace up, and not take too many photos. But it’s always good to know how many miles per hour you can average with elevation, to know whether or not you can make it in the time you have.
Of course we didn’t know we’d run into ice in the shady section near the top. We knew there would be snow, but as the snow was trampled, it became really icy with the warmer temperatures. So we took our time through that section, which put us a little behind on our set time.
Once we got to the lookout, it was so hard not to stay for hours and take photos. But knowing we were on a bit of time budget, we took some photos, and had some Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad we had made in camp the night before.
Tyler was working on getting a photo of me on the lookout, and I turned around to explain to zoom out a bit to make sure I had room to crop the photo. I’m usually a little on the silly side, so I was explaining all this with some robot dance moves, and he snapped a photo which turned out to be my favorite of the day.
Posed photos are fun, but sometimes I think the outtakes are better because they’re so much more spontaneous. Then since the light was already turning deep gold, we knew we had to start booking it out. Especially since we had about 1/2 mile of ice to make it through before we could start making good time.
And let me tell you what, we power hiked out of there so fast we were almost running. That turned out to be a good idea, because we came off the trail at 6:58pm, and it was completely black in the woods in front of our truck by 7:10pm. In 12 minutes it went from dusk and dim, to black which is why it’s so good to mind the time, especially during the fall months.
We were prepared in case anything happened with first aid, extra water and food, fire starter, and maybe most important – headlamps for in case we didn’t make it out before dark. However I don’t know about you, but there’s a powerful motivation to get out of the woods before dark so you’re not hiking in the dark with bears and wildcats, (which of course prefer to hunt at night).
Early on in our relationship, Tyler and I got ourselves into a few ‘situations’ where we were coming out of the woods in the dark. We always had headlamps and survival gear, but those experiences are what led us to figure out what our average miles per hour are when we’re hiking. That way we always know what we’re in for, and we haven’t come out in the dark since!
This trail spends most of it’s miles in the trees, but there are a few breaks along the way to the lookout. And of course the views from the lookout are pretty awesome. If I only had a few days to spend in Glacier, this hike probably wouldn’t make my list because it’s so many miles for the views.
There are so many hikes that will give you more views for that amount of effort. But I do have to say, this hike is perfection in the fall. Many parts of the park are shut down in the fall if the snow comes early, which is another reason this one is so perfect as a late season hike. It also tends to be a bit less traveled than some of the more popular trails, which is a nice benefit as well!