The Highline Trail, an airy foot path that tracks along the Garden Wall from Logan Pass to Granite Park across Glacier National Park’s alpine country, is open to travelers.
National Park Service staff announced the classic trail had opened this morning, June 22, a full month earlier than last year’s opening. Sections of low-angle snow remain on portions of the trail and officials urged travelers to watch their footing and come prepared to hike in fickle mountain conditions.
Officials also cautioned that because the trail has seen very little human travel this year, wildlife is abundant and visitors should be bear aware and carry pepper spray.
Widely considered the second official sign that summer is here — the first sign, of course, manifesting in the June 13 opening of the entire length of the Going-to-the-Sun Road — the Highline Trail ranks among the quintessential hikes in Glacier Park, tracing 7.6 miles from Logan Pass along the Continental Divide to the Granite Park Chalet, a remote backcountry destination that is open for overnight stays until Sept. 10. After gaining approximately 2,137 feet of elevation and losing 2,110 feet between the Divide and the chalet, the trail then descends another five miles and 2,000 feet to The Loop, the hairpin turn on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
One of the classic ways to tackle the trail is to park at The Loop, take one of the free shuttle buses up to Logan Pass and hike back to a waiting vehicle. However, the park’s shuttle service will not begin operating until July 1. Check the park website for additional information on shuttle stops.
According to Glacier National Park officials, vehicle reservations for the park’s west entrances have not been selling out since the full 50-mile length of Going-to-the-Sun Road opened earlier than usual last week, with day-of reservations often lingering into the afternoon and 24-hour advanced reservations ripe for the picking.
That’s due to park administrators having based the release of 120-day advanced reservations on a prediction made four months ago that the full length of the Sun Road over Logan Pass would be open by July 1. Given the iconic alpine highway’s opening more than two weeks earlier than expected, park officials were able to release more reservations into the online queue at recreation.gov.
“We based our 120-day advanced reservations on a prediction that we would not have the road opened in June,” Gina Icenoggle, Glacier Park’s public information officer, said. “Once the road is open we have a lot more available real estate for visitors to explore, resulting in more reservations. But because we hedged our bets on a July 1 opening of the Sun Road, we had to compensate by releasing a greater number of 24-hour advanced reservations.”
Visitors should be aware of construction zones on Going-to-the-Sun Road this summer. On the park’s west side, traffic lights control a single lane through the construction area along Lake McDonald, causing up to 30-minute delays in both directions. The road is also extremely rough and has prompted a reduction in the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph. However, Kerzman said the conditions have improved since last week.
For the east side of the park, vehicle reservations will not be required at Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and St. Mary (at Rising Sun) entrances until July 1. Visitors with lodging, camping, or commercial activity reservations (e.g., boat tours and horseback rides) do not need a vehicle reservation and can use their confirmation email to access the portion of the park for which their activity is booked.
The park is open 24/7 and visitors may enter the park before 6 a.m. or after 3 p.m. without a vehicle reservation.
Additional vehicle reservation information and frequently asked questions are available on the park’s vehicle reservation page.
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