Hiking Avalanche Lake and Biking Going-to-the-Sun Road 2018

When Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is closed in the spring, the two most popular activities from West Glacier are hiking to Avalanche Lake and biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road. We decided to do both.

We planned on camping at Fish Creek, waking up early and getting a parking spot at Avalanche Lake, then hiking to the lake before biking. It was a glorious day.

The Avalanche Lake parking lot fills up fast any time of the year where Going-to-the-Sun Road is open to it. It fills up very fast in the spring on the weekends especially. We were aware of this, so we decided to spend the night in Glacier National Park so we could get an early start.

After a beautiful night at the Fish Creek Campground, we woke early and drove over to the parking lot… we weren’t the first people there. It was rapidly filling up which made us happy with our decision. I also know that the ride down from Logan Pass can be chilly, so I wasn’t sup eager to get to the top. The Avalanche Lake trail would get busy as well, so we decided to hike first, then bike.

It had rained the previous day which made everything along Avalanche Creek incredibly dark and beautiful. We made our way on Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Gorge and took the classic photo from the bridge that I’ve taken just about every time I’ve gone. An American Dipper was busy flying up and down the frothing water among the red rocks, getting food to bring back to the nest amongst the rocks along the creek.

We hiked up the beautiful Avalanche Gorge then into the cedars as the sunlight filtered its way to the mossy, forest floor. The air smelled amazing and we were excited to have the dirt under our feet.

Birds were chirping over our heads as we walked up the roaring creek. I was pleasantly surprised to find no snow on the trail with just a little bit of mud in some places. We eventually climbed up to the shores of the lake where the roar of waterfalls echoed through the cirque. There still is a bunch of snow up there and it was making a racket in the form of waterfalls as it melted, then crashed to the lake.

While we didn’t spy any mammals, a pair of Common Loons were a delight as they fished and we basked in the warm sun on a cool, spring morning.

We headed back down to the car, changed into our biking gear and started pedaling up Going-to-the-Sun Road. The drive up the road is gorgeous, but the ride delivers an intimacy and quiet that you don’t get with a string of cars. The forest floor was carpeted in flowers such as Trillium and Glacier Lilies.

The previous storm was taking it’s time clearing out the clouds, so we would get bouts of sunshine, then the sun would hide for a bit keeping the temperature nice for the ride up once we got our blood pumping.

It seemed like everywhere, water was flowing, cascading, falling, and just making everything look refreshing. The views were wonderful as the clouds revealed the mountaintops. Some along the Garden Wall even had a skiff of new snow.

We worked our way along with hundreds of others making the ascent up the road. We passed rocks, water, and snow along the way letting us know that there still was time before cars would be using the road. They still need to install some guardrails in a bunch of sections, but it’s coming along… The opening of Logan Pass always feels like the beginning of summer.

Speaking of Logan Pass, I wasn’t sure of how far we’d be able to ride, but found out from some people coming down that the road was clear to the pass. As we climbed, it got cooler and more water was on the road. When we finally made it to Logan Pass, the wind and cool mountain air had us putting on all of the clothes that we brought for the ride down.

The ride down was a chilly one… especially when our bike tires would fling water on us. If you decide to ride the road, make sure that you bring long pants, a jacket, hat and warm gloves.  It’s a very cold ride down.

We made it back to our car completely spent after hiking 4.6miles and riding 32 miles. Big, happy spring days in Glacier National Park visiting the popular and beautiful Avalanche Lake and biking to the top of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Avalanche Gorge

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14 responses to “Hiking Avalanche Lake and Biking Going-to-the-Sun Road 2018”

  1. RavWebDev Avatar

    Hike734, thanks a lot for the post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      You bet!

  2. Mark Carver Avatar
    Mark Carver

    Great pictures, Jake!! I will share with our guests when discussing the road opening and the Hike 734 map.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Excellent Mark!

  3. Mike McFadden Avatar
    Mike McFadden

    Thanks, Jake, for the current news and fun pictures! As our family gets excited for our trip to GNP this summer, we love catching glimpses of what’s happening right now in the park. Your bike ride sounds fun! We’d like to do an early season Going to the Sun ride sometime! Blessings!

    1. hike734 Avatar

      It’s quite the experience. 😀

  4. Linda M Ballard Avatar
    Linda M Ballard

    I received the maps that I ordered from you and plan on putting them to good use. I will be out there from the east coast on June 22 so I sure hope the road is about ready. It’s a long way to travel and not get to see as much as possible when we get there. This will be our first trip out so want to take in as much as we can.
    Thanks so much for the info. I will continue to read everything to help us when we get there.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      Keep in mind that each season has it’s own experiences that others don’t have from biking the road to flowers to baby animals to open trails to bugling elk. You never know what you’re going to see and you don’t want to miss something special happening because you’re looking/expecting something else!

  5. […] Every year in Glacier National Park, there is the big question, “When are they going to open Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass?” While we wait to access the high country by car, we had to visit it by bicycle which we did earlier this year. […]

  6. Mike Kinsella Avatar
    Mike Kinsella

    Nice to see you’re still at it. This was a rare summer that we didn’t make it to Glacier.

    1. I’m also glad to see that you’re still hanging around! I’m definitely still at it. I’ve been blogging less because I’m hitting trails and writing, but I have quite the backlog from Yosemite and Olympic that will eventually see the light of day. Bummer that you didn’t get up here. What’d you do instead?

  7. What time of year did you do this bike ride

    1. June 2nd. At the beginning of most of my videos I have the date. Usually, when people want to know when, they’re way past it, but you can always go back and check. (Every once in awhile I forget or get it wrong. My earliest videos didn’t have the dates.) 😀

  8. […] Hiking Avalanche Lake and Biking Going-to-the-Sun Road 2018 […]

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