Apgar Lookout Spring 2024

With the trail being on a south-facing slope, Apgar Lookout is the easiest way to get some elevation in Glacier National Park in the spring. The forecast called for a bluebird day, so we packed our lunches and hit the trail for a lovely spring warmup.

Even if Going-to-the-Sun Road was open all the way over Logan Pass, it doesn’t take long to get into much snow if you want to gain some elevation. Kristen and I have grand plans in Glacier National Park for some fun hikes and climbs, so we were itching to get some elevation.

As we headed into the park, we saw that the trail to Apgar Lookout looked almost clear of snow. We stepped out of our car onto the mostly dry trail and began working our way through the lower section of the trail. A Fox Sparrow called from the alders near a seasonal stream that races under the trail. Other than the sparrow, however, few birds were singing, but this is expected to change shortly.

In the lower elevations, we couldn’t really see any flowers poking out of the ground and leaves of the shrubbery was just starting to unfurl. As we began to climb, we left the alders/cedars/birch trees for the dense lodgepole pines that were growing inches apart from eachother as they all raced to the sky after the fire of many years ago.

It didn’t take long to get to the base of the mountain where we turned and began climbing on the flanks of the ridge that the lookout sits. With elevation comes views and the lovely spring sun lit up the hillsides below us. Counter-intuitively, we found flowers higher up on the slope where lower down there weren’t any. Glacier lilies, sedge, and purple violets splashed the forest floor with color and an Orange-crowned Warbler sang its descending trill as it hunted for emerging insects.

We hit our first main switchback and traversed to ever-expanding views, including looks up to the Apgar Mountains high point which still had a nice coating of snow on it. One more switchback and we were heading southeast again. The trail then wraps around the ridge giving nice views of West Glacier and the first views of the craggy summits of the park.

Traditionally, this section has a belly in the trail and is usually loaded with snow. While there was snow on the trail, it was much less than normal and we easily navigated it without post-holing. The majority of the snow was the final approach which has a more north facing aspect, but it too was easily navigated and we found ourselves at the lookout.

A stiff wind convinced us to sit down on the leeward side of the breeze and in the sunshine while we enjoyed lunch. The puffy clouds added to our photos and the clear air allowed us to see the stunning, snow-capped peaks. An adult Bald Eagle navigated the wind as it wrapped around the ridge from the south. It’s always a fun site to see an eagle below you as it is soaring.

Lake McDonald isn’t really visible from the lookout itself, but a short walk down and to the left from the lookout gives decent views of the lake. A selfie was taken to put in the photo roll of our phones to remember the day and we headed back down.

Lake McDonald from Apgar Lookout

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3 responses to “Apgar Lookout Spring 2024”

  1. Kim Gosselin Avatar
    Kim Gosselin

    Glad to see a feature about Apgar lookout. Did this a few years ago and while I thought it was pretty tough ( I whined a lot🤣). It was worth the view. Some of my favorite photos from out Glacier trip were from the lookout

  2. Rod Griffin Avatar
    Rod Griffin

    That’s a nice hike to start the season ! We’re you able to cross Quarter Circle Bridge and drive to the trailhead ? Otherwise , it’s a lot longer walk from the horse Corrales.

    1. Jake Bramante Avatar
      Jake Bramante

      Yes! Thankfully we were able to drive across Quarter Circle all the way to the trailhead. Makes it much nicer!

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