It was a beautiful spring day and we decided to grab out bikes and backpacks and head up to Glacier National Park. I wanted to get a picture of Avalanche Lake on a bluebird day, so we made that our destination. Currently, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed at Lake McDonald Lodge, so we needed to ride our bikes the six miles to the trailhead, then hike up to the lake. It was perfect.
It’s amazing how many people take advantage of the Going-to-the-Sun Road clear of traffic to ride and walk along it in the spring. If you’ve not done it and you are around before they open the road, it’s definitely a must.
With no clouds in the sky, McDonald Creek was beautiful as were the snow-capped mountains. We left our bikes at the trailhead for Avalanche Lake with our helmets, then took off into the dark undergrowth of the cedar and hemlock forest. The first stop was the amazing gorge as Avalanche Creek makes its last plummet to the valley floor in a frothing madness. From there we climbed up through the coolness of the trees on a basically dry trail.
As we got higher, the pocket views looking out were great and a few goats were spied on the cliffs. As we got closer to the lake, small sections of snow greeted us across the trail, but far less than normal which was great for hiking.
Once at the lake, it was incredible. Perfect weather, no clouds and the waterfalls and snow gracing the rugged mountains. The lake was a jewel blue with a few Barrow’s Goldeneyes flying and swimming on its surface. Mountain goats lounged and grazed on the stepped hillside to our left. Unlike most experiences during the summer, we had the place all to ourselves for large spells with a few visitors showing up here and there.
After a bit of hanging out, we headed back down. Another highlight was coming across a black bear crossing the road as we pedaled back to the car. All in all, an amazing, spring day.
Note that, while snowpack in lower elevations is pretty low, it is pretty close to average at higher elevations, so the Going-to-the-Sun Road will most likely open some time in June, but not earlier than normal.