Hiking Glacier National Park
The Highline Trail

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

The Highline Trail

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Haystack Pass lies about halfway in-between Logan Pass and Granite Park Chalet. The pass is also incredibly scenic, offering sweeping views in all directions. And, to top it off, the pass is very open, pretty flat and has a ton of large, flat rocks. As such, Haystack Pass has become the undesignated “lunch stop” for hikers on the Highline Trail. As a word of warning, guard your lunch. Ground squirrels are everywhere up at the pass, and will happily and stealthily steal your food if you are not careful!

From Haystack Pass, the Highline Trail makes one more short climb, most of it very gentle, for about a half mile, as it nears the trails maximum elevation on the hike, of 7,440 feet. The views of the Livingston Range are incredible, with Heaven’s Peak dominating the skyline. Mt. Cannon, Mt. Oberlin and Swiftcurrent Mountain also provide for some spectacular views. Additionally, about a mile down the trail from Haystack Pass the hiker is rewarded with some nice views of the entire Lower McDonald Creek Valley, including views of Lake McDonald.

The Highline Trail continues to lose elevation as it passes through an area burned partially over during a fire that occurred here in 1967. While not too many trees remain, you can still see a number of dead trees still standing – like monuments to a long, lost battle against the forces of nature.

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Soon, the Highline Trail makes a turn to the east as it goes around a ridge. From here, views of Swiftcurrent Mountain and the beautiful area around Granite Park Chalet open up. From here, it is about 2.5 miles to the Chalet.

The Highline Trail continues to gradually lose elevation and then flattens out. The terrain it passes through is very open and very rocky. At mile marker 6.8 (as measured from Logan Pass), hikers who are feeling good can take a short, but steep side hike up to Grinnell Overlook via the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail. This trail isn’t very long, only .8 miles, but it is awfully steep for part of its length. Yet, if the weather is good and you’re feeling fine, it is a rewarding hike – as from the top of the trail you’ll get a beautiful view of Grinnell Glacier and the Many Glacier area.

From the junction with the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail, the Highline Trail begins a gradual ascent towards the Granite Park Chalet for .8 miles, which is clearly visible and seemingly takes forever to reach.

Photo Use Guidelines

At the Granite Park Chalet, a day hiker will find a place to buy some water, soda or Gatorade, and to load up on energy foods like chocolate bars and such. Granite Park Chalet, it should be noted, does NOT have a well. So don’t plan on replenishing your water supplies here – at least without paying for it.

A day hiker at the Granite Park Chalet has two choices. The first choice is to simply go back the way you came, down the Highline Trail. However, the most popular route (because it is the easiest), is to take the 4 mile hike down the Loop Trail. The Loop Trail will take a hiker down a pretty steep descent to the Going to the Sun Road at the “Loop.” From there, a hiker can either hitchhike back up to Logan Pass, wait for the shuttle bus that runs about once and hour during the summer, or hop in the vehicle that you were smart enough to leave there.

Conclusion

Overall, the Highline Trail is a “must do” hike for anyone who wants to do a hike in Glacier National Park. The Highline Trail is incredibly scenic, relatively easy, and is a wonderful trail to see wildlife on. If you can only do one hike on your visit to Glacier National Park, and you are in moderately decent condition, then this is a trail to give serious thoughts to taking.

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Also View the Highline Trail Photo Gallery


Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Socks : Guide to Getting the Right Sock for Hiking
Rain Jackets : What kind of rain jacket to get for hiking...and why
Trekking Poles : Why you should use a Hiking Staff when hiking

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