Avalanche Lake is an inspiring hike accessed via easy trail in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.
After hiking Sunrift Gorge, the drive west on Going-To-The-Sun Road crosses Logan Pass at the Continental Divide, then continues down the west side on SPECTACULAR, narrow highway clinging to the sides of mountains. Driver distraction is not an option but the incredible scenery makes it virtually impossible. Periodic turnouts along the route promote appreciation for surrounding, magnificent terrain.
At Lake McDonald Lodge, on the north-east corner of Lake McDonald, there is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a light, scenic lunch in the dining room. The crowd on the west side of the park displays an entirely different composition than the more rustic folks at Two Medicine and Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.
After lunch, a quick 8 mile (12.8 KM) return drive east to the large, crowded, parking area provides access to the trail-head for the wheelchair accessible Trail of the Cedars. Trail of the Cedars is a flat stroll on a ¾ mile (1.1 KM) loop through impressive old growth, cedar forest. The massive trees are western red cedar and black cottonwood more commonly found on the coastal region of the US Pacific north-west.
At the far end of Trail of the Cedars loop, the clearly signed trail to Avalanche Lake branches off to the right. The Avalanche Lake Trail is a well-traveled, wide trail of 5 miles (8 KM) round trip over rolling land with estimated easy, gross elevation of 1,000 ft (304 M). The trail travels south-east along Avalanche Creek through incredible, mature forest past huge, glacier-deposited boulders (erratic) and moss draperies.
Initially, the hike is beside a gorge vaguely reminiscent of Nihahi Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
The trail departs from the forest onto the expansive beaches of Avalanche Lake which is surrounded by Bearcat Mountain on the east wall and Mount Brown on the west wall.
Long, slender waterfalls, including the impressive Monument Falls, cascade from the cirque formed by Sperry Glacier. The sandy beach, littered with avalanche debris at shore-line and magnificent mountains surrounding the emerald lake, is a photographer's paradise.
Half an hour is spent at Avalanche Lake prior to returning via the same route used for access.
Today is a staging day to final accommodation. After the drive to the end of Going-To-The-Sun Road the departure from West Glacier heads east on Highway 2 for 20+ miles along the south border of Glacier National Park to new accommodation at Glacier Haven Inn, Montana, USA.