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The Loop - Granite Park Trail
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47 by photographer avatartibber
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The Loop - Granite Park TrailWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 20 2010
tibber
Hiking
Hiking   2 Hrs   30 Mns   0.00 mph
 
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desertgirl
This trail was done in conjunction with the Higline - Garden Wall Trail.
We were on a mission to make that 6:20 shuttle. We had 4 miles to get down. It was 2 o'clock local time. I wasn't concerned. Ambika decided we would just keep a steady pace and judge our time based on Scout's report in a couple miles. So we didn't go to the Chalet and we ate our sandwich on the walk. Of course, it turns out we could have taken the time to go up to the Chalet and take a break. However, the good side is we got up to the pass early enough to walk a little on the start of the Highline Trail.

The sky was overcast with big cumulus clouds but had spots of sun to the west that would shine off and on over the Livingston Range further north. As we headed down hill it was hard to say goodbye to the beautiful environs of the Highline Trail. However, this area we started through was kind of nice and interesting too. The great views do continue though as you look west toward Heaven's Peak that sparkles a bit when the sun hits the snow just right. Before you know it, you've already dropped 500 feet in a mile or so where we start to enter the burn section of the 2003 Trapper Fire.

Again our views are expanded and include more of the MacDonald Valley and glimpses of Bird Woman Falls coming off of Oberlin Mountain. We now start heading south where we get views of the mountains to the west of the Logan Pass area. The trail is flanked by greenery on both sides including lots of tall Cow's Parsnip. Off to the south (toward Logan Pass) you can see where the burned area with lots of dead trees comes to a stop. After about a mile and 1/2 we start to lose site of a good part of the Garden Wall to the east as we switched back to the north and slightly west. We continued to walk through the tall stands of naked trees with the green underbrush that is interspersed with wildflowers here and there.

A couple folks hiking ahead of me pointed out the bridge that we would be crossing to get to the TH. It looks really far away even when I zoomed on it with my camera. It is hard to believe you are going to walk all the way down to the GTTSR. There are now more and a variety of wildflowers along the sides of the trail; probably due to the sun exposure. Ambika is staying ahead of me as she is fighting some bugs. I didn't find them to be too annoying except when I stopped to take a picture and even then, they didn't bother me that much.

A little ways after switching back to the north we stopped for a short 5 minute break from the constant down hill slog. It wasn't a slog really but you are dropping around 2300 feet in 4 miles... better than going up 2300 feet in 4 miles. Ambika kept saying coming up this trail would be her preference if she were to do the hike again; especially if she was to overnite at the Chalet with the expectations of hiking the SwiftCurrent back to Many Glacier. I don't know about that as the people we ran into coming up were breathing pretty heavy. In fact, one young gal backpacker said she was exhausted and she had only done the first mile and 3/4 or so. However, if you could take your time, this is definitely a doable option.

From here you will meander up and down ever so slightly as you make your way through the forest. I herded a deer for Ambika, we got some good photos of a grouse not too far from the trail and we saw our first fireweed as well as crossed a couple little bits of flowing water. From the lower Granite Park Trail junction at the 3.4 mile mark you start on the Trail that is marked with Sun Road. However, as we were going along I could see a trail below me and thot we might be going the wrong way as I didn't look close enuf at the sign I had taken a photo of just moments before. Ambika assured me we were going the right way and we were.

We hiked some gradual ups and downs but nothing significant and before I knew it, we came around a little curve where there's a bridge over a nice waterfall. Across the bridge is the TH/shuttle stop at the Going-to-the-Sun-Road. If you are planning to use the shuttle, be mindful that the shuttles coming through may be full or can only take so many passengers. Almost all of the dozen or so hikers we met along the trail were taking this free shuttle back up to Logan Pass.

We got on the third shuttle and enjoyed the short ride up to the Pass where we threw our stuff in the car and then headed right back out on the Highline Trail to find the goats that had been spotted. Well no goats, but we already had our goat show this day so we were content with some cute squirrels and nice wildflowers that had been shaded earlier in the day.

On our way back to the Rising Sun, we along with others spotted a pretty black bear on a tall bank above a pullout. So I did a u-turn. Ambika got a picture but the angle wasn't the greatest. Nothing like a little "bear" excitement for the day and our second bear on our second day in Glacier Park.

After our dinner at the Rising Sun's Two Dog Flats Cafe, we headed out to the Photographer's Lookout to get some great pictures of the sunset on Wild Goose Island around 9 pm. Interestingly enough, we ran into my 1st cousin-once removed that we had met out at the ranch three days previous. We told her we would be in Glacier Park but what a surprise to run into her at this precise spot.
Named place
Named place
Heavens Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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