Trail of the Cedars – Glacier NP – Hiking Montana

 

Glacier National Park in Montana, USA has a dual personality.

 

 

The side west of the Continental Divide is very different from the east side.  Pacific coast weather systems create a lush and abundant forest with species of trees and plants which cannot survive on the east side where much harsher and drier weather prevails.  The difference is immediately apparent.

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA The Boardwalk at Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

 

Following a satisfying and relaxing lunch in the Fireside Dining Room at Lake McDonald Lodge, the drive north-east on Going-to-the-Sun Road proceeds past Johns Lake Loop to the busy, large and crowded parking area for Trail of the Cedars

This short, ¾ mile (1.1 KM) loop, around both sides of Avalanche Creek, is justifiably the most popular hike in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.  The short, flat trail is wheelchair accessible on boardwalk and paved sections through old growth forest reminiscent of what is found on the west coasts of the United States and South-western British Columbia in Canada.

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA Standing beside slightly older trees, for scale, in Glacier National Park, Montana

 

Old growth forest, primarily of red cedar and black cottonwood, towers above new growth of hemlock and a floor of dead-fall, moss, devil’s club and ferns mixed with a plethora of flowering plants. 

Sight and sound is enhanced by squirrels on the ground and in the trees, and complemented by birds and butterflies in the air.  The fascinating, tiny, water ouzel is equally adept airborne and underwater. 

The aroma of the damp forest is strong and sweet.  There are a lot of people on the trail but they tend to whisper.  Consistently and politely, they acknowledge the presence of others as anyone might expect in a cathedral.  The trail loops around to head back on a bridge over Avalanche Creek with amazing views of a surrealistic, tumbling, jade waterfall through the sculpted and colorful walls of Avalanche Gorge.

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA Beautiful cascading waterfalls at Avalanche Creek along Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USATrail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USATrail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA

 

This short, easy trail is a vision in close proximity to the trail-head for Avalanche Lake and Monument Falls which is another more aggressive but worthwhile hiking experience along Avalanche Creek and Gorge.

There are many rest spots and benches along the way to pause and reflect on the power and beauty of this place.  Even though it is a very short trail, plenty of time is justified to absorb and revel in the wonder of this exquisite old growth forest.

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA The boardwalk continues through dense, old-growth forest on Trail of the Cedars.

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA Lush moss thrives on rock outcroppings and the forest floor - Trail of the Cedars - Glacier National Park

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA The root system of a long-ago, toppled tree at Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park, Montana

 

Trail of the Cedars – Glacier National Park – Montana, USA Some of the giant trees host odd formations along Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park, Montana

 

Trail of the Cedars is a leisurely treat that should be experienced and savored.  To rush through here would make no sense and, for the most part, may not be possible due to its popularity.

 

 

 

 

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