A few trails intersect iconic Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. The Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is one of them and you certainly don’t want to miss this hike.
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike in Glacier National Park: Photo Diary and All
Hiking along the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is tricky to say the least. Snow makes the walk uphill more difficult than it actually is. You can never count on complete solitude during the all-time-favorite hike to the scenic Hidden Lake Overlook. And most importantly, the time to see the picturesque site is limited.
Knowing all these, we still decided to attempt the hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook. (The Highline Trail, another path you surely want to get under your belt when at Logan Pass was way too long for hiking with a small kid.)
I should say we were lucky. Tremendously fortunate, actually. Even though we got to Logan Pass when rangers vigorously instructed all drivers to pass by without attempting to enter the highest point in the Going-to-the-Sun Road section, we somehow managed to secure the last spot at a roadside parking area about 0.5 mile away.
With that said, our hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook became even longer. But we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even if our hiking trip had to be a mile longer, it was absolutely worth it.
HIDDEN LAKE OVERLOOK HIKE
- Distance: 3-mile, round-trip trail
- Trailhead: Hidden Lake Trail behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center
- Location: Logan Pass
- Elevation Gain: 765 feet
- Difficulty: Easy (moderate when the snow is present)
- Time: 1.5-2 hours
Hidden Lake Overlook Trailhead
A large building towering over a decent size parking lot looked alluring. Massive mountains behind it added a finishing touch, intensifying the incredible beauty of the area. “It how I’ve alway pictured rural Switzerland”, I couldn’t help but think.
If the front view of the Logan Pass Visitor Center had such a strong effect on me, the area behind it left me speechless. Mesmerizing green meadows (known as the Hanging Gardens) touched with yellow wildflowers spread on miles on end, stealing my heart. Words couldn’t describe how grateful I felt at that moment and already ached to see what was at the end of the Hidden Lake Overlook hike.
The trail that started behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center looked easy. It constantly climbed uphill, but nothing was too impossible. A series of raised boardwalks took over a paved path almost right at the trailhead. These assisted with conquering the initial climb and keeping the hikers from the snow and slush.
The only obstacle was the snow. Even during the last days of June, the snowy blanket covered most of the trail. In fact, the path that cut through the Hanging Gardens was invisible at that time. Tall, yellow road markers positioned along the Hidden Lake Trail were the only referring points during the uphill climb.
Ascending the mountainside didn’t look difficult, though. The trail sprinted up, slightly winding to the left. The hard-packed, slippery snow, however, made the hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook somewhat tedious. Moreover, it was to blame for our slow walking.
Apart from it, only one more obstacle awaited the hikers at the end of the first section of the Hidden Lake Trail. Although the official path swirled around a small hill here, many visitors mistakenly climbed the peak. Free from snow, this self-made trail stood out among the white idyll, confusing the just arrived hikers.
Some of these adventurers embarked on the “new” Hidden Lake Trail just to realize their mistake a few minutes later and look for a proper place to descend the hill and continue on with the hike. Energy was wasted here for sure. If one thing these hikers could gain, it was a 360-degree, unobstructed view of this part of Logan Pass and better chances of spotting bighorn sheep up in the mountains.
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike: Small Valley with Ponds
Once we passed this section of the trail, the hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook became a piece of cake. Without significant elevation changes, at this time all we focused on was the remarkable scenery surrounding us.
And boy, the views were getting better and better with every step. Before you knew it, a small valley with a few ponds adorned the area.
The snow still hanged on for dear life in some places. In others, it was replaced by green grass and abundant puddles. The latter even managed to sneak on the now visible trail that eventually continued on along the raised boardwalk.
Hidden Lake Overlook
The last stretch on the Hidden Lake Overlook hike was all a hiker could ask for. It was easy, relaxing, and outrageously gorgeous. Only the Hidden Lake Overlook itself could beat such an idyllic picture.
The trail ended at a small overlook with wooden railings observing Hidden Lake at the foot of snow-capped Bearhat Mountain.
Even at the end of June, ice still covered half of the lake. The snow also tried to retain its power, creating peculiar, white stretches on the brown ground. The whole place adopted an unforgettable look that reminded of zebra’s stripes, and you couldn’t help but greedily take it all in.
We ended our hike at the Hidden Lake Overlook. Several hikers extended their excursion and walked another 1.5 miles to the shore of the lake.
Wildlife Along Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
The Hidden Lake Overlook area has far more advantages than the gorgeous scenery. Home to bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bears, and many other animals, it’s one of the best places to see the wildlife in Glacier National Park.
The animals pop up on the alpine trail, mostly its highest sections, from time to time. Seemingly oblivious to the hikers, they, however, prefer serenity of the mountains surrounding the area. So keeping your eye not only on the trail, but the entire place is mandatory during the hike to Hidden Lake.
On the other hand, you don’t need to tread uphill to see a bighorn sheep standing on a rock ledge with its head proudly up. Find a cozy spot right behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center, get your binocular out, and wait for the animals.
Some lucky ones among those who prefer not to hike all the way to the Hidden Lake Overlook can even spot a bear racing down the snow-covered mountainside.
Is Hidden Lake Overlook Hike Worth It?
When a hike, such as the Hidden Lake Overlook, requires some effort, the question arises unwillingly: Is it worth it? Yes, it is.
The Hidden Lake Overlook area looks like it just came straight from a National Geographic magazine. The lush meadows adorned with the blooming wildflowers around the trailhead, snow-covered middle section of the hike, and the astonishing Hanging Gardens followed by the remarkable vistas of the alpine lake…
The place looks so idyllic that you feel reluctant to leave it. Can you expect anything less than that from a place that is dubbed as one of the most stunning areas in Glacier National Park?
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike: Location and Directions
The Hidden Lake Overlook is one of the two most popular trails at Logan Pass, the highest point along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Alluring each and every summer visitor, the place conveniently positioned itself in the heart of this section of Glacier National Park.
It takes about 1 hour (32 miles) to get to Logan Pass from the West Glacier entrance. The distance from the St. Mary entrance is nearly 18 miles (35 minutes).
The Best Time to Hike to Hidden Lake Overlook
I mentioned that the Hidden Lake Overlook hike tops every Glacier National Park summer itinerary for a reason. Due to severe winder conditions and heavy snowfalls, Logan Pass along with other nearby areas is closed most of the year.
The best time to visit the area and hike either to the Hidden Lake Overlook or tread along the Highline Trail is from late June through the third week of October. These dates, however, are subject to change according to the weather’s mood.
The rest of the year, Logan Pass reserved its “services” only to the cold-resistant wildlife.
What to Know before Hiking to Hidden Lake Overlook
Going-to-the-Sun Road Entry Ticket
As of the summer season of 2021, to hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook, first you must secure your Going-to-the-Sun Road entry ticket. The pass is required during the busy summer season. Starting from early September until the partial closure of the scenic road, the ticket is not needed to visit Logan Pass and hike to its picturesque Hidden Lake Overlook.
The snow remains in the alpine area even in summer. Eventually, it melts, revealing the lush greenery underneath. But it usually doesn’t happen until mid-July – August.
Enjoy the Hike
Have you ever asked yourself why they always advise to stop and smell the roses? Because life is not static. What you see today may not be here tomorrow.
This is especially accurate during the Hidden Lake Overlook hike. One day, the area is covered with the snow. Pared with warm sun above, it’s quite an attraction. The following day, the wildflowers may bloom right where you were skipping through the snow the day before.
Logan Pass with its Hidden Lake Overlook align quite well with the seasonal transitions. Yet since it has so little time to go through all the changes, it seems to speed up. The only way to catch up with it is to take it easy and enjoy everything the Hidden Lake Overlook hike has to offer at that time.
What to Pack for the Hike
I usually steer clear of the hiking staffs. For the Hidden Lake Overlook hike, however, these gears are necessary, especially if the snow still covers most of the trail.
A binocular comes in handy when you want to see the Glacier’s wildlife from a distance, which often is the only way to spot the animals.
Phone with a camera works as well. Use whatever you have to capture the stunning scenery and funny moments during your hike to the Hidden Lake Overlook. For professional looking photos, bring along wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
If you feel like munching on top of the hill overlooking the Hidden Lake, bring along some snack and be sure to pack our all trash.
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike Photo Diary
A pictures is worth a thousands words. And what is be the best way to finish this blog post than not to include a perfectly imperfect Hidden Lake Overlook Hike photo diary?
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