This half-day hike provides a new perspective on the iconic view of Lake McDonald and the surrounding mountains in Glacier National Park.

Precursor: I completed this hike in November, hence the snow in the photos. Due to a lack of tree coverage, this hike is best suited for a cool summer day, or in the late spring and early autumn. It is doable in the heat of the summer, but be sure to pack plenty of water.

This hike begins by trekking through a recovering forest, which was originally destroyed in the 2003 Roberts Fire. The first section of the hike, roughly three-quarters of a mile, has little to no climb to it. Soon, though, the trail begins to gain elevation. There are several switchbacks in the trail as you climb. As you approach the lookout, there is a nearby pit toilet. Upon reaching the structure itself, it is about a quarter of a mile to the highest point of the mountain. Though none were seen on the day I completed the hike, there is the possibility of viewing wildlife along the trail.

From the lookout, a beautiful view of Lake McDonald can be seen to the northeast, though from some angles slightly obstructed by trees and a large TV transformer standing nearby. Surrounding the head of the lake, Stanton Mountain, Mount Vaught, The Garden Wall, Edwards Mountain, Little Matterhorn, and Gunsight Mountain stand. Looking east, you can see far into the Lewis Range of mountains. Looking back from where you came, you can see into the North Fork and Middle Fork areas, along with the surrounding communities.

This hike is easily completed in a half-day, allowing time to explore Apgar Village or, if visiting Glacier for a while, head over to the east side of the park to explore the following day.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water, especially if done in the heat of the summer
  • Light Lunch
  • Appropriate clothing for weather
  • In late spring/early autumn, gaiters
  • In late spring/early autumn, long pants
  • In winter, snowshoes
  • Bear spray. In Glacier, bear spray is recommended for any hike.
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RT Distance 7 Miles
Elevation Gain 1850 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Nice Hike But Exposed To The Sun

My wife and I hiked this 7.2 mile out-and-back route in July. The trail is lovely but exposed to the sun the whole way as a result of old wildfires. Take plenty of water! The view from the top is worth the effort and the lookout is really scenic. Good cellphone coverage the whole route if you want to stay connected.

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