We drove the approximate 21 miles back to the St. Mary Visitor Center Park Entrance, then another few to the Logan Pass Visitor Center at the peak of the famed Going to the Sun Road (en route, we stopped to let a black bear cross the road!).
The Hidden Lake Nature Trail begins directly behind the visitor’s center. It consists of a fairly steady incline for 1.5 miles to the Hidden Lake overlook. It’s a strenuous hike (some people were carrying skis and snowboards up the trail so they could ski or board down, if that gives you an idea), but the return route is a breeze! We opted to eat a picnic lunch at the overlook; there are no tables, but the viewing platform serves as a nice spot to sit down and take in the view (which is spectacular). We ended up sharing our spot (but not our lunch) with three mountain goats who loped over to see what we were doing!
Note: As you can see, the entire trail was covered in snow at the time of our visit. This made for an extremely challenging 3 mile hike! Rangers told us that by mid-July, most of the surface snow has melted, allowing visitors to hike on raised boardwalks instead. If you plan to go when snow is likely, be sure to wear hiking boots with a good grip and sunglasses (the glare is fierce, and the trail is exposed to sun).
Extra Tip: If the Hidden Lake Nature Trail seems too challenging to your group, and easier (but very beautiful) option is the Sun Point Nature Trail to Barring Falls. An easy .9 mile hike (one way), the trail follows the lake shore to stunning Barring Falls. Flat terrain. You can find the trail head approximately 10 miles back toward St. Mary on the Going to the Sun Road at the Sun Point parking lot.
Calvin reports his opinion on the hike on our new ‘Pit Stops for Kids Cam’:
Date last visited: June 2010.
Distance off the interstate: Approximately 20 miles from Hwy 89.
Admission Prices: Only the $25 per car National Park fee.
Food Services: None at the visitor’s center. If you don’t pack food in, the nearest food is back in St. Mary, where you’ll find the Park Cafe (our ranger told us they have the best pie she’s ever had).
Bathrooms: Available at the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center.
Website: Hidden Lake Nature Trail
Directions: From St. Mary (Hwy 89), enter the park at the St. Mary Visitor Center. Follow the Going to the Sun road past St. Mary Lake and up toward the pass. The Logan Pass Visitor’s Center is on the left.
Up Next: We drive south to Big Sky, Montana, stopping at Boulder Hot Springs to sample their soothing geothermal waters!