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The Highline Trail - Garden Wall - 6 members in 6 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 30 2018
tibber
avatar

 Guides 21
 Routes 588
 Photos 27,522
 Triplogs 988

65 female
 Joined Feb 26 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet, MT 
Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet, MT
 
Hiking avatar Jul 30 2018
tibber
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,924 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   6 Hrs      1.62 mph
1,924 ft AEG   1 Hour   3 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
writelots
This year, Wendy was finally going to get to do the Highline Trail to the Chalet. That was our plan in 2011 but with the latest opening ever of the Going to the Sun Road, the Highline Trail didn't even open until Jul 26th or 27th I think it was. This would be my second trip on the Highline, the first being with Ambika, July 20th in 2010 when we crossed 20 snowfields. Today, despite heavy snowfall this winter, there would be no snow crossings and the waterfalls weren't nearly as plentiful but the people were. Everyone was nice, however.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We decided to have breakfast at the KOA. We were waiting for 1/2 hour between our order time and getting the food so we had them box it up and ate just a bit of it. So much for a hardy breakfast. We had to catch a ride with Bill and they were hiking Divide Mountain so we didn't want to hold them up. I guess we had asked the day before if the KOA would store our luggage while we were gone and they said yes so we had to drop that off. We would be staying there for two nites once we got back.

Bill dropped us at the St Mary VC where I was going to go in and get my Pass and we were going to take the morning shuttle. Well you can't get it at the VC you have to go where they check in the cars. So I walk out and around to the road and over to get my America the Beautiful Senior Park Pass. I've been so excited about getting this so I said proudly, I need to buy my pass and I'm so excited. The ranger seemed a little surprised at my giddiness as I handed over my credit card and drivers license. I proudly took my pass but only had a second to admire it as the Shuttle Bus was pulling up so I had to race back to the parking lot.

As we got on the Shuttle I asked the driver if this would be an express trip and she said no, we had six stops but as it turned out, we only had to stop three times: Rising Sun, St Mary Falls, and Siyeh. I ate the rest of my breakfast on the way. After using the restrooms I go to pull out my trekking poles and the one won't lock. Come to find out one of the pieces was stuck up in the pole. While Wendy fiddled I checked to see if the Logan Pass VC had poles and they did for $40. However, by the time I got back, Wendy was able to widdle that piece out so that the z-poles would lock; I was so happy.

After the obligatory pictures at the Logan Pass sign we crossed the road to begin our hike. As we rounded the corner the Glacier National Park greeters were there so we filmed them and admired them for a bit. The greeters just happened to be about a half-dozen Big Horn Sheep eating the grass almost next to the trail. What a way to start the hike! They would cross the trail and then we moved on. The first part of the hike of course is along the ledge above the Going to the Sun Highway called the Rimrocks. It's a pretty narrow ledge but they have a hose wrapped railing for your assistance if you need it. Sadly a couple weeks earlier a female grizzly fell to the Going to the Sun Road and had to be euthanized :(

And already the stopping and going and passing and waiting had begun. This would be the norm for nearly the entire hike. However, it is what it is and you just have to make it your own venture. We enjoyed the flora and views along the way. Wendy brot her big camera so she made good use of it and we did have all day to get to the Chalet. Your views back to the Logan Pass area and its mountains is always impressive. Today, we would see people at the top of Mount Oberlin. I guess that ascent has become popular over the years so I may have to investigate it.

Once done with the ledge you get to hike right next to the hillside so it's easy to get a closer look at the flora without having to bend too much. Oh and the flora was out in spades and lots of different flora. As we continued on between the longer lines of people you eventually make your way out into the lesser steep mountainsides. It was difficult filming as ahead of us was bright sunshine and we were in the shade. And as you looked to the west, the residual smoke from the CA fires was obstructing what is usually a great view down the McDonald Valley.

We eventually made our way closer to Haystack Butte. In 2010, the whole side of the climb up to Haystack was covered in snow. We got some great pictures. Now it was covered in dead bear grass stalks that Lee got to enjoy when they were alive and filled the hillsides last summer; I was so jealous! So up we went and did the big long switchback to the saddle where we would have lunch. We went off to the west where there was the perfect table rock for us to sit at; well us and a pesky chipmunk. We enjoyed our views of the Livingston Range with many other hikers that's for sure.

We still had some elevation left to go and I thot once past here, the hordes would dissipate but that wasn't the case. We continued on enjoying the continually changing landscape from the garden wall to the McDonald Creek and Valley below us and mountains ahead of us. We walked past several waterfalls, some flowing more than others and stopped to photograph or hiked past those that were photographing. As we got closer to the elevation top, Wendy exclaimed that she felt like butterflys between the caterpillars. What a perfect comparison to how we felt for this entire hike.

We rounded a couple more corners before we could finally spot the Chalet way off in the distance. The mileage left seemed shorter than that view. We rounded one area that usually has water coming off of it. Here we found some nice shade and stopped for a little break as it was a bit warm. A few moments later someone was walking by and said "Sue". Well I knew Sue was hiking in (a glacier chatter) so I asked if she was THE Sue and it was. She was hiking in with her family to stay at the Chalet for THREE nites, lucky girl. Oh, and there is a coincidence to come. We would pass each other from time to time for these last couple miles.

The next section we went over reminded me of the rocky area coming off of Gunsight Pass as the rocks are so colorful. A little past here we met two other very young hikers that were from Tucson. They would be doing the Grinnell Overlook Trail on their way to the Chalet. Later I would get a picture of them as they started up that rather steep trail. Once we finally got to the intersection there were a few people mulling about and several hikers coming and going. It was getting pretty warm by now and I think the heat was getting to a few of these folks. The heat wasn't bothering me at this point as we only had less than 1/2 mile to the Chalet.

Along the way we crossed a drainage and an area that was filled with Wild Chives so I had to get several pictures. And then there's that last little hill up to the Chalet. Once again there were quite a few folks milling about. It's a nice resting place before you continue your hike which for most folks was down the 4 mile Loop Trail (2700 feet elev loss) to the GTTSR. People were also stopping to get snacks or drinks. The Chalet refrigerator sells Gatorade and Water for a hefty fee. I decided a gatorade sounded pretty good so I grabbed one of those.
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We got our Chalet tour and were shown our room. Our packs were a bit heavy as we brot lots of stuff with us for our stay. So we unloaded a lot of that in Room 2 and then made the 1/4 mile trek to get some water for our bladders for tomorrow's hike and for our water bottles. We trekked back, that last hill is a bit steep, and up to our Room IN the Chalet on the east side. Lo and behold, who is in the room next to us: Sue and her family.

I was glad we got to stay IN the Chalet as it's much nicer, especially with the balcony. While the other side of the Chalet has the spectacular view of Heaven's Peak and the Livinston Range, we had shade and a view of Swiftcurrent Mountain and the Garden Wall to the south where we could keep an eye on hikers of the Grinnell Overlook. I think the reason we got IN the Chalet instead of the annex is because we were staying for more than one nite.

Well we put our chairs out on the balcony, brot out our snacks and huckleberry lager, propped our feet up on the rails, and listened as Wendy played her ukulele. Sue's family joined in on the song too. We signed in for 6:15 dinner hour and Wendy made us a pot pie. Some of the crew got in on that action cuz she made a lot. It was very good. At 8PM was the program for the evening which was a talk by a geologist who had just been over at the Ahern Pass for a workshop. We learned lots of new things (For example, we learned Granite Park is not granite but Purcell lava or specifically pillow basalts. The Purcell lava flow is 1,075 million years old.) and he had some great stories about Ahern Pass to tell; some very frightening when he was trying to get back over to the Belly River ranger station.

Jeff Kuhn is a trained geologist and a long-time veteran of Glacier National Park. He has worked seasonal positions as a Back Country Ranger in the Belly River area, fought fires as a member of the Glacier National Park Hot Shot Crew, and worked as an employee at Many Glacier Hotel. Jeff is currently employed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality as a program manager and hydrogeologist. He is one of the leaders of various Guided Interpretive Workshops they offer at the Chalet including Alpine Wildflowers, Birding at Treeline, Grizzly Bears, etc. http://graniteparkchalet.com/workshops.html#highalpine_

We got to ask him about Boulder Pass geology as we told him we couldn't find much information on it. (We were at Boulder Pass last year). He said the reason is they never got to conclude the studies of GNP geology as the programs ended. And as I think I mentioned somewhere, Glacier Park has layers and Boulder Pass takes you to the top layers of the park's geology.

Last the evening concluded with a beautiful setting sun which was to our NW. It was a treat to watch. Once in our rooms, they tell you to speak very softly as the sound carries and that is for sure. You hear EVERYTHING and sometimes end up participating in the conversation :lol: . There might as well be no walls really.

Here are the six videos of our hike in and our afternoon/evening at the Chalet:
Part 1 - [ youtube video ] including our greeters and along the ledge
Part 2 - [ youtube video ] below the Garden Wall, above GTTSR and people traffic
Part 3 - [ youtube video ] getting closer to and at Haystack Butte
Part 4 - [ youtube video ] from Haystack Butte
Part 5 - [ youtube video ] the Chalet is within view but farther than you think
Part 6 - [ youtube video ] about a mile to go and at the Chalet
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
once again, what didn't we see. Pretty much all of the normal Glacier Wildflowers were somewhere along this trail.
_____________________
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.
Jul 16 2017
friendofThundergod
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 Guides 24
 Routes 300
 Photos 8,534
 Triplogs 804

38 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
The Highline Trail - Garden WallWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 16 2017
friendofThundergod
Hiking21.02 Miles 5,521 AEG
Hiking21.02 Miles   8 Hrs   53 Mns   2.46 mph
5,521 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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.
Fauna
Fauna
White Tailed Deer
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
_____________________
2 archives
Jul 18 2016
AZLOT69
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 Guides 175
 Routes 247
 Photos 7,708
 Triplogs 1,885

69 male
 Joined Feb 12 2002
 Gold Canyon, AZ
The Highline Trail - Garden WallWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 18 2016
AZLOT69
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,025 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles
2,025 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Certainly a hiker highlight of Glacier.
_____________________
It's best for a man to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open his mouth and remove all doubt.
--Mark Twain
1 archive
Jul 12 2016
AZDane
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 Routes 59
 Photos 44
 Triplogs 71

49 male
 Joined Dec 28 2015
 Mesa
Part of the Highline Trail, MT 
Part of the Highline Trail, MT
 
Hiking avatar Jul 12 2016
AZDane
Hiking5.32 Miles 1,399 AEG
Hiking5.32 Miles   3 Hrs   27 Mns   2.16 mph
1,399 ft AEG      59 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
probably the most awesome trail in GNP
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Aug 08 2010
Vaporman
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 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 8,687
 Triplogs 931

41 male
 Joined Mar 28 2005
 SLC, Utah
The Highline Trail - Garden WallWestern, MT
Western, MT
Backpack avatar Aug 08 2010
Vaporman
Backpack16.80 Miles 1,800 AEG
Backpack16.80 Miles1 Day         
1,800 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
alpineclimber
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:
_____________________
Yea, canyoneering is an extreme sport... EXTREMELY dramatic!!! =p
Jul 20 2010
tibber
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 Guides 21
 Routes 588
 Photos 27,522
 Triplogs 988

65 female
 Joined Feb 26 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
The Highline Trail - Garden WallWestern, MT
Western, MT
Hiking avatar Jul 20 2010
tibber
Hiking11.85 Miles 2,023 AEG
Hiking11.85 Miles   7 Hrs      1.69 mph
2,023 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
desertgirl
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
Culture
Culture
Throwing a Wendy
Meteorology
Meteorology
Fog
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.
average hiking speed 1.98 mph

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.

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