The Highline Trail is one of my most recommended trails to anyone visiting Glacier National Park! The trail is 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet, where you can stay the night and hike in the area the next day. Or you can hike down the loop trail, and catch a shuttle back to Logan’s Pass where this hike begins.
My favorite way to do this hike is to the Chalet, and all the way back out to Logan’s Pass. The views are absolutely stunning both ways, so you can’t loose either way you hike this.
No description of this hike would be complete without telling you about the beginning of the trail. It’s a 4-6 foot wide ledge, (picture below) and the drop off is around 100+’. There is a cable in place if you’re feeling nervous. But I thought it deserved a mention in case you have a severe fear of heights.
Another reason this hike is so amazing is you almost always see wildlife. Generally you see goats and big horn sheep. But a couple of my friends saw a grizzly and 2 cubs in the distance when they did this hike a couple of weeks ago!
The wildflowers are truly a sight to see on this trail. They start about the second week of July and run into August. The weather can vary greatly from year to year. This means there are often still a few big snow fields in July, so bring good hiking boots, or come in the beginning of August.
This is one of the views you’ll see on the hike back out! You can see why I feel like I’m missing out when I do the through hike down past the Chalet. You’ll find yourself wanting to look at the 360º view. This is why I love to hike back out the way I came. Otherwise I spend half my time looking over my shoulder to see the view behind me.
This hike is also a photographers dream because the mountains you’re looking at in the morning are highlighted by the sun. And the range of mountains you see at the end of the day are highlighted by the setting sun, So it’s a win win all the way around!
On the way to the Chalet, you’ll have great views of Heaven’s Peak (the peak in the middle of the above photo). Heaven’s Peak keeps it’s snow pretty much year round, so it always makes for a great picture!
Here we’re crossing one of those last remaining snow fields in early July. If you have good boots, and/or balance you really don’t need Yak Traxs if you’re very careful about footing. Many people get their tennis shoes wet which can cause a major blister problems, so bring good footwear.
There is an additional spur to this trail that takes you to a view point called Grinnell Glacier Overlook. Since this post is already out of control with so many pictures, I’ll give you the spur trail in an additional post here – Grinnell Glacier Overlook.
20 thoughts on “The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park”
Kari, have you heard of taking the express shuttle from Apgar to Logan pass and hiking to the loop and catching the shuttle back to Apgar? If this is a good option are there issues with getting a seat to Apgar on the bus back? I heard there are three express shuttles that run at 7,720&740.
There can definitely be issues with getting a seat on the shuttles depending on time of day and time of the year. But I have found that going early and late is helpful, also you should have an easier time going from the loop back down to Apgar because most people go from the loop back up to the pass. So far my experience with the shuttle has been that I usually end up waiting but it does work out with some patience. There was one time when the wait was going to be so long, (read 3 hours at almost 100ºF) a friend and I ended up hitchhiking instead, which of course I don’t recommend for safety reasons!
Just did this hike, with 3 kids under 7!, and three adults and loved it. It was long but did it in 7 hours from Logan’s Pass back to car at the Loop. the scenery was great, and the stop at the chalet helped with only 4 miles left to go (almost all downhill.) Be sure to bring bear spray, just in case. We saw goats, sheep, but no bears:) It is a beautiful hike and you can do part and just turn around and head back but it is doable in 7 or less hours from Logan’s Pass to the Loop with 3 kids in tow!
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! This is one of my favorite hikes because it’s so scenic and like you said you can always turn around at any time and still have a great hike.
Is it hard to turn back aroud if you cant go as far as other hikers? It looks so narrow.
No it’s not hard to turn around at all. The narrow part is only a few hundred feet right at the beginning and it’s a few feet wide, so there’s no issue with turning around.
Can you hike some and then turn back? I am not in great shape (overweight, but love to do easy hikes)?
Yes you can definitely turn back at any time when you’re ready!
Is the ledge part of the trail by Logan pass?
Yes the ledge part of the trail is by Logan’s Pass, maybe 1/4 of a mile from the parking lot. I hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions!
Can you recommend some backcountry trails that are less traveled (and beautiful!) where we can backpack for a few days of hiking and camping.
I haven’t done much backpacking in Glacier myself, but the 3 that have been on my list are the Highline Trail through into Waterton. This could be problematic this year as they’re talking about shutting Waterton down after the fire last year. However you can still backpack the Highline, stay and Granite Chalet, and from there you can hike Swiftcurrent Pass, Grinnell Glacier Overlook or continue on down the Highline for as far as you can go depending on whether or not Waterton opens this year. The second one I’ve always wanted to do is the Belly River area, starting from Many Glacier, hiking to Ptarmigan Tunnel, then down into Elizabethe Lake (10 miles at that point) and then on from there as far as you might want to go. And finally this one requires route finding and hands on scrambling, (people have died when they have gotten lost on this route) but it’s between Logan’s Pass visitor center hiking into Hidden Lake. Then the scrambling part begins from Hidden Lake up to a Ridge that overlooks the Avalanche Lake basin and over the Sperry Glacier. The route finding continues, (it’s definitely advanced, I’ve been halfway, and it’s easy to loose the trail) through what they call ‘floral garden’ across the bottom of the glacier so it must be done late in the season so as to not die on in a crevasse. And finally through comeau pass and down into Sperry Chalet. This might not be possible to do this year with the snow pack, and sperry chalet burnt to the ground last year, so no one is sure yet whether or not this are will be opened at all.
Also you might want to look into doing an overnighter in the Two Medicine area as it’s usually way less crowded than the main portion of the park.
I sure hope this helps, and be sure to let me know if you have anymore questions.
Zachwyciłem się kwiatami na łodygach z białą główką, niestety nie wiem jaka jest ich nazwa.
If my translation is correct you asked about the flowers with the white heads, they’re called Beargrass and they’re a native flower to Montana. 🙂
This hike is on my Bucket List, but since I am already 80 I may not make it. Just need some encouragement and a good hiking buddy!
This is a great bucket list item, and you don’t have to hike the whole thing in one day. You can book a night or two at the Granite Park Chalet which I think is around 6-8 miles in if you start at Logan’s Pass. I’d also recommend starting from Logan’s Pass because it’s mostly downhill that way, especially after the chalet. And definitely start really early in the morning so that you have plenty of time to rest if needed! I sure hope you get to go this summer! 🙂
What a stunning hike! Although, I don’t think it’s for kids. I especially enjoy seeing the animals and seeing the wildflowers. Would love to see a grizzly and her cubs! Great for your friends. Maybe you’ll see them next time. Would love to do this hike!!
Once the kids get a little older it would probably be fine, they usually recommend around 10 yrs of age or so – just enough years that they start to understand the seriousness of paying attention the the surroundings! It also helps that there’s a cable in place as well, hope you get to do this hike one day! 🙂
I love marmots, they so cute. Amazing pictures Kari, looks like you guys had an amazing hike!
They are pretty cute, although they get pretty aggressive because everyone feeds them and they really get pushy trying to get at your lunch sometimes!