Hiking Glacier National Park
The Apgar Lookout Trail

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

Apgar Lookout Trail

Lake McDonald seen from Apgar Lookout
Photo Use Guidelines

The Apgar Lookout Trail provides a beautiful and unique view into Glacier National Park. Apgar Lookout sits atop Apgar Mountain, which lies at the outlet of Lake McDonald and just outside West Glacier, Montana. From atop the mountain at the lookout, a visitor gets a nearly unobstructed view down on Lake McDonald and a stunning view of the high peaks in Glacier National Park.

The hike up to Apgar Lookout is fairly short, only 2.8 miles, but has a pretty steady and at times steep vertical descent. Except for at a few places along the trial, the Apgar Lookout Trail passes through heavily wooded terrain (now burnt over!), offering only limited views. However, once at the lookout, the stunning and unique view of Lake McDonald (Lake McDonald looks like a pond sitting in a massive and beautiful bathtub) makes the hike more than worthwhile.

The trailhead of the Apgar Lookout Trail is located just a short drive from the West Glacier Entrance Station. Once you enter the park at the West Glacier Entrance Station, look for a road that cuts off to the left just a half mile away. A sign does not mark this road as leading to the Apgar Lookout Trail. Instead, a sign marks this road as leading to the horse corral and the Glacier Institute. Continue down this road to the horse corral. At the horse corral, veer left at the Y-junction.

Lake McDonald seen from Apgar Lookout
Photo Use Guidelines

The road then continues, which is a gravel road and completely unsuitable for trailers, for about two miles. While the road is in fair condition, vehicles without 4 wheel drive may encounter difficulties during wet weather as large puddles and lots of mud can form on the road. During normal summer weather, though, any vehicle should be able to easily get up this road. Just watch out for the deer that have a tendency to jump in front of your vehicle!

Once on the Apgar Lookout Trail, the trail is relatively flat for the first mile or so, as it follows an old, abandoned dirt road, to the base of Apgar Mountain. From here, it begins a steady, and at times steep, ascent of Apgar Mountain. The trail itself has 3 very long switchbacks, with the second switchback seemingly the most difficult. Take heart once you reach the third switchback, as most of the climb and vertical gain is over.

While the photos shown here do not fully show the beauty of the view offered from Apgar Lookout (due to hazy conditions at the time I last went up), the view from Apgar Lookout is truly amazing. The view of Lake McDonald is like nothing else in the park and is worth the hike to see.


Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Boots : Buyers guide to getting the right boot for hiking
Hiking Socks : Guide to getting the right sock for hiking
Trekking Poles : Why you should use one when hiking

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