Lake McDonald Trail 2023

The lower trails of Glacier National Park are drying out quickly with this recent stint of warmer weather. Since many of the roads are closed, the list of hikes without snow is pretty small. We settled on the Lake McDonald Trail on its western shore, hiked a bit, had lunch and turned around on a beautiful spring day.

The Going-the-Sun Road was still closed at Apgar due to road construction (and you could hear the rumble across the lake). We parked over the by the Fish Creek Campground to stretch our legs, watch for some birds, and see how many flowers we could spy. As soon as we stepped out of the vehicle, we heard the calls of Orange-crowned Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets filling the air. It didn’t take long to find trillium, yellow violets, mountain lover in bloom as we came alongside the roaring creek.

Once we crossed Fish Creek, we stayed left at the next couple of junctions, bypassing both the campground and Rocky Point to head up and over the hill to Lake McDonald. Howe Ridge, to our left, has burned repeatedly and the opportunistic lodgepole pines are growing taller and thick as anything. This does obscure the views a bit, but you still get glimpses of the lake.

Nonetheless we enjoyed some spring sunshine that felt a bit more like summer as we creeped into the mid-70s. Butterflies flitted about in the air and birds chirped from the trees. Noisy Red-necked Grebes hollered at each other on the lake as they floated around with other waterfowl.

The trail does eventually drop down along the lake shore with plenty of driftwood logs to sit, which we did and had lunch. After enjoying the glassy lake, we turned around and worked our way back. This time, we went out to Rocky Point and enjoyed the view from up there before dropping down along the lake once more. A pair of Mallards and a pair of Buffleheads suddenly scurried off just before an immature Bald Eagle came swooping down and I thought the drake Mallard was going to meet his demise, but he somehow scurried out from under the talons. A foraging Common Loon was unaffected by the eagle.

The birds serenaded us back to the car where we hopped back in, drove up Camas for a bit before heading home.

We certainly have spring fever around here and this warm weather is only making it worse. So great to get out into our favorite place.

West Shore of Lake McDonald

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