The Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Avalanche Creek, Glacier National Park Trail to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake sits just below the Continental Divide on the west side of Glacier National Park. An excellent and popular trail follows roaring Avalanche Creek (left) up to the lake. The dense woods are dark and damp early in the morning, almost spooky, and are an excellent wildlife habitat. We observed deer here the previous day. A sign at the trailhead warns that this area is grizzy bear country. There would have been no way to spot a bear in these dark woods.

Avalanche Lake is a study in unspoiled wilderness with snow covered mountains rising above the lake. There are glaciers on these mountains but visibility is limited by clouds and fog.

The lake is ringed by very dense and lush vegetation. The Continental Divide acts as a rain shadow for the Glacier National Park’s west side, and the closer you get to the barrier, the more precipitation. Thus, the area features trees and vegetation much more akin to the lush coastal forests of the Pacific Northwest. At right, a sample of the vegetation near the lake.

Hiking in a dark, soggy forest can sometimes be tricky. On the way back, I tripped on a root, fell in the mud, and cut my hand. Trying to clean off in the fast-running creek, I slipped into the water. No major trauma, but a nice mess to clean back at the car. Outdoor life isn’t always easy!

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Vegetation near Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Trail of the Cedars

Across from the Avalanche Campground ranger station, this 0.4 mile loop nature trail on a level boardwalk allows elderly and handicapped visitors a chance to experience the lush forests of Avalanche Canyon. During our visit deer were present along this trail.