I’ve had my eye on Logging Lake in Glacier National Park as a fall hike destination for some time. While often fairly muddy, fall affords a slightly drier trail, no insects and an abundance of golden larch trees that dazzled us throughout the day.
Originally, we were wanting to get on the trail on Friday as we figured there would be less people, but even on a Saturday, hiking in late October to Logging Lake couldn’t be described as busy. The drive to Polebridge is a gravel road, then you have to drive another 8 miles to get to the trailhead.Save for another couple starting to hike right behind us, it was just us for most of the day.
The last time I hiked to Logging Lake was in the spring and it was a muddy, sloppy, mosquito-y mess. I had been told that it was a great fall hike and we were not disappointed.
The trail would its way along Logging Creek bouncing between damp forests, drier benches, and wonderful overlooks. We missed peak aspen season, but a few late holdouts shook their gold coins in the light breeze. The real fall superstar up there was the larch trees.
A burn many years back took out many of the larger trees on the opposite hillsides, but a new colony of growth is mostly larch and the hillside was covered in the golden, conical shapes of 20 year old trees.
While we didn’t see much for mammals, recent grizzly tracks were imprinted in the soft trail and kept us alert. Ruffed Grouse tend to explode into a loud flurry as they get away and we were left with a few heart attacks as we stumbled by at least four of them.
After a bit of mostly-level hiking (one short, moderate slope at the beginning and another halfway through was the majority of the uphill), we left the open hillsides and wandered through damp forests of spruce and deciduous shrubbery that was a variety of autumnal colors. A pleasant variety of forest birds flitted through the trees.
We came to the first junction that goes to the lake which is the patrol cabin and boathouse and took it. The clouds were breaking up as we reached the shores and had some lunch. Some biologists were pulling the boat in for the season after spending the summer doing some lake trout mitigation.
Content with the lake near the patrol cabin, we turned around and headed back down the trail. As we did, sunlight broke through backlighting the larches and warming our faces on the way back to our car.