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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

The Highline Trail - Garden Wall, MT

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249 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List MT > Western
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5 of 5 by 6
 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 7.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,646 feet
Elevation Gain 654 feet
Avg Time One Way 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.88
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
55  2018-07-30
Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet
tibber
17  2017-07-16 friendofThunderg
45  2010-08-08 Vaporman
64  2010-07-20 tibber
112  2010-07-20 desertgirl
11  2009-08-14 gummo
Author tibber
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 574
Photos 25,551
Trips 837 map ( 10,394 miles )
Age 63 Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Summer
Sun  6:20am - 6:35pm
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1 Alternative
 
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Named place Nearby
The Jewel of GNP
by tibber

Likely In-Season!
Of all the trails this one is recommended by most anyone who has hiked in Glacier National Park (GNP) as a must. The Highline Trail follows the Continental Divide for about 20 miles and eventually to Waterton Lake on the Canadian border. The hike description is for the "Garden Wall" portion only.


While the Highline Trail is relatively flat, you should expect some fairly long, gradual climbs and descents.

The TH is across the Going to the Sun Road (GTTSR) from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. It is at an elevation of around 6600 feet. The trail loses elevation gradually for about a quarter mile. This is an area that is somewhat alpine meadowy and somewhat low foresty. Next up is the plank-way walk as you weave along just above the GTTSR. Looking down is pretty amazing as you are walking on a narrow cliff path. However, there is a hose railing that you can hold onto if you feel the need. As long as you don't look straight down, it's really not much of an issue as the path is plenty wide in my opinion.

Once this is over you start going down ever so slowly. You have magnifcent views of the Garden Wall up and to your right (east) along with Mt Oberilne and Mt Cannon (south) to your left as well as a few different waterfalls off of Mt Oberlin and Logan Pass. Ahead Haystack Butte is coming into view. You continue on a slight downward walk and get to cross many little streams of water coming out of the mountainside. Eventually you know you have to start going up to get around that Haystack Butte but it seems irrelevant as you continue to soak in the views including the backside of Mt Gould and manage to make your way across the snowfields.

It is interesting how the shape of Haystack Butte changes as you make your way around. This area has lots of Bear Grass and during blooming years, it is a site to see let alone walk through. As you climb the switchback for about 1/2 mile and 400 feet quickly to the backside of Haystack Butte, you will run into a good deal of snow if before the end of July. This area is sometimes referred to as Haystack Pass. You may want to take a quick break here and soak in the views before your gradual ascent to the highest elevation point on this trail.

From the saddle of Haystack Pass the Highline Trail starts climbing for about a half mile maxing out at 7,300 feet. You can almost always see the trail ahead of you. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not. Looking across the valley ahead to the west is the Livingston Range starting with Heaven's Peak at the right of McDonald Creek far below. For a good part of the summer Heaven's Peak and the Livingston Range are partially covered in snow.

As you continue for a mile or so you come upon some seriously incredible views of Lake McDonald to the west (at almost 5 miles from the TH) open up while Mt. Cannon and Mt. Oberlin skirt the other side of the Lower McDonald Creek Valley. You also get a pretty good look at Swiftcurrent Mountain ahead (slightly to the north and east). In this same area you will come across what I call the "weeping wall" of the Highline Trail as you may need to negotiate around some water as it comes out of the mountain side just like the cars do on the "Weeping Wall" section of GTTSR.

The Highline Trail continues to lose elevation as it passes through an area partially burned during a fire that occurred in 1967 (6300 acres). While not too many trees remain, you can still see a number of dead trees still standing.

Soon, the Highline Trail heads east as it goes around a ridge. From here, views of Swiftcurrent Mountain and the scenic area around Granite Park Chalet are more visible; it is about 2.5 miles to the Chalet.

The Highline Trail continues to gradually lose elevation flattening out in a short time. At almost 7 miles you come to a junciton where you can take a steep side hike on a trail through a somewhat shale-like area up to Grinnell Overlook via the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail. Per the sign at the junction the trail is .6 miles. It goes up at quite an angle and doesn't look like it has the best footing. From the junction with the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail, the Highline Trail starts going up towards the Granite Park Chalet for .8 miles.

At the Granite Park Chalet you can rest up for the next portion of your hike. There are concessions available and if you've made reservations for a through hike, you can rest there for the evening. If you are on a day hike you can go back the way you came but most people choose the 4 mile hike down the Loop Trail. The Loop Trail has a separate hike description as it is a route one can take up and down to the Granite Park Chalet. The Glacier shuttle stops at the Loop TH on the GTTSR. Be sure and check the times altho there is usually a sign athe Chalet junction indicating the time of the last shuttle at both Logan Pass TH and The Loop TH.

Fires of GNP: I happen to find this great link to Fires of Glacier National Park. It is a great presentation mostly highlighting the 2003 fires.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-08-01 tibber
  • goat haunt map st mary map mcdonald map
    area related

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
The Highline Trail - Garden Wall
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This was one of my last hikes in Glacier and one of my more ambitious. I started at Logan Pass and then took the Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet, and then Swiftcurrent Pass and the lookout. I returned the same route and also made a detour up the steep, but short Glacier Overlook Trail on the way to Granite.

The hike was Glacier at its finest. The Highline Trail was one great view after another, highlighted by the ever present Heaven's Peak, the Glacier Overlook Trail and the bumper crop of bear grass along the trail. Granite Chalet was an interesting place and very scenic, but nothing overly exciting. Switfcurrent Pass was windy and the summit and lookout even windier, but the views superb and some of the best in that area of the park. I returned the same route I took to the lookout tower and finished up pretty quickly thanks to the downhills and nice trail.
The Highline Trail - Garden Wall
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Wow, this is probably my fav trail in my fav National Park! :y: So to avoid the permit system we just day hiked with our overnight backpacks from Logans Pass over Swiftcurrent Pass and stayed the night down that the walk-in sites at Many Glacier campground. :) I thought the views from the Going-to-the-Sun Road were absolutely amazing, but the views while hiking below the garden wall just blow that away! :o Waterfalls everywhere, glaciers & snowfields on nearby mountains, lush valleys below, loads of wildlife, dark intimidating mountain peaks... We took the steep sidetrip up that Grinnell Glacier overlook trail to soak in the equally amazing views of that valley, lakes, and glacier on the other side of the ridge. Took a quick break in the chalet as a rainstorm blew in before throwing on our minimal raingear and heading over the foggy Swiftcurrent Pass. Once down from the pass a bit, we dropped below the clouds and out of the rain to see the sweet Swiftcurrent Glacier with a handful of cascading waterfalls running below it down to the amazing valley with a few deep blue lakes lining the valley floor. :o Ohh snap, can hiking get any better than this?!? Once down in the valley floor and past the lakes, it was kinna a dull stroll thru the forrest a few miles to the campground and hordes of people... Found a walk-in site and hit the restaurant for dinner. Wow, those Montana-raised, free grazing, open range cattle make some of the best burgers ever! :D I think more backpacking trips should overnight near restaurants! :lol:
The Highline Trail - Garden Wall
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
I actually did the hike description for this trail so you can reference it for more information about this "Jewel of the GNP (Glacier National Park)" hike: http://www.hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15657. This mileage, AEG and time is for The Highline Trail to The Loop TH.

The first thing I did when I woke up was to check the weather. We were socked in by low fog and clouds probably created by the rain we had the previous nite; altho that rain was further north in the Many Glacier area. So it looks like our early start would have to be delayed. The one good thing is that we got to enjoy our breakfast before heading out as the fog started to lift. The other cool thing with the fog is that our drive on the GTTSR was very interesting and provided an incredible opportunity to take a photo (right like I would take A photo) of the infamous Wild Goose Island in St Mary's Lake. It was like magic in the daylight.

After a small traffic delay due to construction (I love the traffic delays on the GTTSR. You get to stop and get out to take pictures as the flaggers give you a time frame such as 10 minutes), we finally made it to the Logan Pass parking lot and got on our way to do the highlight hike of our trip. It was a beautiful day!

The TH is across the Going to the Sun Road (GTTSR) from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. It is at an elevation of around 6600 feet. The trail loses elevation gradually for about 1/4 mile. This is an area that is somewhat alpine meadowy and somewhat low foresty. We immediately got caught up in the little flowers on the raised bank along the trail before we headed toward our small snow crossing along the Highline Trail toward the Garden Wall.

Next up is the plank-way walk as you weave along just above the GTTSR. Looking down is pretty amazing as you are walking on a narrow cliff path. However, there is a hose railing that you can hold onto if you feel the need. As long as you don't look straight down, it's really not much of an issue as the path is plenty wide in my opinion. Ambika and I kept switching positions as we walked so that we could take pictures of each other going along this plank-way. You almost forget there is one heck of a drop-off just a step or two away.... something that would come to fruition on the last day of our hiking in Glacier Park.

Once you've walked the plank-way you start going down ever so slowly. You come in and out of some tall foresty areas and then have magnificent views of the Garden Wall up and to your right (east) along with Mt Oberilne and Mt Cannon (south) to your left as well as a few different waterfalls off of Mt Oberlin and Logan Pass. Ahead Haystack Butte is coming into view.

You continue on a slight downward walk, crossing 12 streams/falls of water coming out of the mountainside before you reach the saddle at Haystack Butte. It seems I tried to get a picture of every one... imagine that. They all eventually flow into Logan Creek that comes off of Logan Pass. A couple are pretty good size.

We seemed to interchange with a couple different groups of hikers quite a few times during the hike to Haystack Butte Pass because of the picture taking. You can even see the Weeping Wall on the GTTSR. Within a short time we encountered a mom and her kid (mountain goats) right next to the trail. They seemed unamused by us and of course, we were so excited to see them so close. As you cross a couple more snowfields, such fun really, eventually you know you have to start going up to get around that Haystack Butte. It just seems so irrelevant as you continue to soak in the views including the backside of Mt Gould.

It is interesting how the shape of Haystack Butte changes as you make your way around. This area has lots of Beargrass and during blooming years, it is a site to see let alone walk through. Before we climbed the switchback for about 1/2 mile and 400 feet, we took a quick re-fuel moment and walked slowly up to the saddle of Haystack Pass. We ran into a good deal of snow here; much more than we knew would be along the trail. Earlier I had pulled out one trekking pole as snow can be slippery :doh: and it's a long way down to the GTTSR.

The snow field around Haystack Butte was just massive and that along with very interesting clouds in the sky made for a most rewarding journey. We didn't spend much time at the Saddle (around the 3.5 mile mark) as Ambika was concerned about making the 6:00 "Loop" shuttle. It is at this point that many folks turn around. Good for us, too bad for them.

Pretty soon we're walking along and starting to huff and puff a little. We are a little surprised as we thot the elevation gain was supposed to be minimal, especially after the saddle at Haystack Pass. We had hiked 10 miles the day before so maybe it was catching up with us. So we took a quick break and I pulled out the description I had. I could see what I thot was the height of the trail not too far from where we were and that proved to be the case. We only had about another 1/4 mile to the max elevation at 7,286 feet.

We crossed a couple more snowfields and ran into another hiker on the trail. This one had four legs though. So we stopped and discussed proper trail etiquette and decided to let the mountain goat pass. It was a fun encounter that I got on film and video. As you continue for a mile or so you come upon some seriously incredible views of Lake McDonald (at almost 5 miles from the TH). Lake MacDonald stays in view for a whole mile along the Highline Trail while Mt. Cannon and Mt. Oberlin skirt the other side of the Lower McDonald Creek Valley.

In this same area you will come across what I call the "weeping wall" of the Highline Trail as you may need to negotiate around some water as it comes out of the mountain side just like the cars do on the "Weeping Wall" section of GTTSR. After you come around this ridge you get a pretty good look at Swiftcurrent Mountain ahead (slightly to the north and east) plus the Granite Park Chalet in the distance.

We came upon a large field of Glacier Lilys on both sides of the trail so we had to stop and snap some photos here. We were on a good pace but sometimes you just gotta go "whoa". We were not quite done with our wildlife encounters of the close kind as just a little further down the trail, after crossing a couple more snowfields, we spotted a hoary marmot. Now this wasn't just any ordinary marmot. This guy apparently has posed for photos before as he let us snap away. In fact, he was so docile, Ambika pet him. We know it's a no-no but he didn't seem to care.

Ambika was still high-tailing it. I had great faith we would make that shuttle so I would languish on occasion to snap a photo or two. The Highline Trail continues to gradually lose elevation flattening out in a short time. From the junction with the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail, the Highline Trail starts going up towards the Granite Park Chalet for .8 miles.

We did not feel we had time to run up to the Chalet (of course, we had plenty of time but just didn't know it) because we figured at a 1.5 mph or so pace on the way down, it would take us a little more than 3 hours to make the shuttle stop. Well we must have been kickin' some tail cuz we were at the TH in 2 1/2 hours. The Loop trip report will be posted separately. But in case you didn't know it by this trip report, this was a pumpkin WONDERFUL FABULOUS hike I would do over and over and over :y: :y: :y:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGpCVCMkMV0

Permit $$
NPS

Glacier National Park
$30 per car(week), $12 bike/foot(week), $50 annual View Current Entrance Fees


Directions
Map Drive
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Road
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
The three most popular places to access Glacier are from St. Mary, East Glacier and West Glacier, Montana. St. Mary is located on Highway 89, one mile east of the Going to the Sun Highway. East Glacier is just east of the park at the junction of Highways 2 and 49. West Glacier is the western entrance to the park and is on US Highway 2, north of Kalispell

Within Glacier National Park, there is a free shuttle service that takes you along "Going to the Sun Highway".
page created by tibber on Aug 01 2010 2:06 pm
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