Hiking Scalplock Lookout in Glacier National Park in the late fall turned out to be a great idea with all the fall color coming into the larches!
Late season hikes are some of my favorites because there’s such a contrast going on. Down below it’s still fall with gorgeous oranges and yellows. But as you make your way upwards, well… there’s winter with all it’s stunning whiteness!
We hiked Scalplock in prime larch season with their beautiful orange color spreading over the valleys. In fact as the day went on, a strong wind picked up. And by the time we headed back the trail had turned to gold with all the larch needles.
The trail itself isn’t all that interesting for this hike. Near the beginning you get to cross a swinging bridge. But the whole hike is mostly in the forest with very limited views.
That didn’t bother us though since we knew there wasn’t much to see. We just set a good pace to reach the top. You always want to be aware of time in the fall, since daylight is so much more limited than the summer months.
We love spending at least and hour at the top wherever we’re hiking. So we just make sure to budget accordingly so we’re not hiking out in the dark!
Everything you need to know about Scalplock Lookout in Glacier National Park:
- Elevation: 3,225′
- Mileage: 9.2 miles roundtrip
- Trailhead Location: Walton Ranger Station off Hwy 2 in Glacier National Park near the town of Essex, about 26 miles from West Glacier
Tip: This trailhead begins as part of the Boundary Trail, so just be sure to watch for signs so that you’re heading to the right destination when the trail breaks away to head up to Scalplock Lookout!
Basic Facts & Tips:
- There’s a bathroom located at the trailhead, and another pit toilet at the lookout.
- Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail as it’s in a National Park.
- There isn’t any water to count on after you cross the creek near the beginning, so pack accordingly, especially for hot days.
- It’s a lookout which means it’s often windy and cold even in the summer, so definitely bring layers.
- Also possibly plan to eat lunch elsewhere, I’ve found lookouts to be windy most of the time!
- Bring bear spray, make noise on the trail, travel in groups when possible, and be aware – Glacier National Park is bear country.
- It’s also a good idea of have some basic survival gear with you, extra food, a bivy sack, fire starter, a small emergency first aid kit, etc. We pack the protein nut butters from Rx, and the Bison Cranberry meat bars from Epic. They’re light weight and have a lot of fuel for ‘just in case’.
Fun Fact: This fire lookout was built in 1931!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip up Scalplock Lookout, and I’d definitely consider adding it if you’re visiting! However, if you’re short on time, this one isn’t the most stunning hikes in Glacier. It’s also out of the way unless you’re heading from West Glacier to East Glacier.
What it does have going for it, is it’s much quieter than the popular trails. The views are also pretty great at the top. And it’s also a good ‘off season’ hike when the main section of the park is closed down for the season!