The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Highline Trail

The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Highline Trail

Montana
The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Highline Trail

The Highline Trail is the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park!

The scenery along the Highline Trail offers the most comprehensive view of Glacier National Park!

Towering peaks, wildflowers, wildlife, glacial lakes, waterfalls, historical landmarks, alpine meadows, and glaciers define the scenery along the Highline Trail. Though the Highline Trail is a strenuous hike, it’s well worth the effort, and if you’ve time for just one hike, it has to be the Highline Trail!

The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park is seasonal, open July through October, and a heavily trafficked hiking trail. Spotting wildlife, including black and grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, deers, and mountain goats, is very common when hiking the Highline Trail, and hiking with a group is not a bad idea!

The Highline Trail starts from the Logan Pass Visitor Center and ends at The Loop, a switchback along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The Highline Trail has several segments and can be customized per your needs. However, whichever section you hike, only a portion of the trail, or take an additional detour to Grinnell Glacier, you will be treated with spectacular views all along!

Here is my ultimate guide to hiking the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, featuring every detail about the Highline Trail, along with a suggested hiking path, a hiking map, and the must-see places along the Highline Trail!

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Highline Trail General Information

Highline Trail General Information | Glacier National Park

Highline Trail Season & Hours: The Highline Trail is a seasonal trail in Glacier National Park, open July through October. The trail is open all day during the summer months, but it is highly recommended to avoid hiking very early in the morning and after dark, as there’s plentiful wildlife in the park.

Highline Trailhead: The Highline Trail trailhead is located at Logan Pass, right across the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Most people hike the Highline Trail, starting at Logan Pass, but you could also hike the Highline Trail from The Loop trailhead.

Highline Trail End: There’re two ways to end your Highline Trail hike (1) Start at Logan Pass finish your hike at The Loop trailhead, which is a 13.2 Miles strenuous hike (2) Start your hike at Logan Pass, go till Granite Park Chalet and then return back to Logan Pass, which is an 18 miles strenuous hike. I highly recommend the first option, a one-way hike from Logan Pass to The Loop trailhead. However, to do this, you would need to plan for your return to Logan Pass from the Loop Trailhead, which we will discuss next.

Highline Trail Parking: Most people hiking the Highline Trail park their vehicles at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. However, if you’re planning to start your hike from Logan Pass and end it at The Loop trailhead, which I highly recommend, you could also park at The Loop trailhead and take a shuttle to Logan Pass to start your hike.

Park Shuttle: The park provides a free shuttle service in Glacier National Park, stopping at all major trailheads and vista points. The shuttle service connects The Loop Trail Head, where you most likely will end the Highline Trail hike, and the Logan Pass Visitor Center, where you would park your car and start your Highline Trail hike. In peak season, it might be quite challenging to find parking at Logan Pass, and you could even ride the shuttle to Logan Pass from one of the visitor centers located at the park’s gate.

Highline Trail Services & Amenities: There’s absolutely no food or water service along the Highline Trail until you reach the Granite Park Chalet. Granite Park Chalet offers limited food service, including packaged foods, snacks, bottled water, and has picnic tables and restrooms.

Highline Hiking Options: There’re several sections on the Highline Trail, and it is very customizable, offering several hiking options, including the entire hike to The Loop, hiking till the Haystack Pass, Granite Park Chalet, or additional spur trail to the Grinnell Glacier. I have reviewed each hiking option in depth in the following section of the post. The main take away, you don’t necessarily have to hike the entire Highline Trail, and even a short hike to the Haystack Pass offers stunning scenery!

Highline Weather Conditions: Weather conditions can quickly change at such a high elevation, and most likely, you will still see snow-capped mountain peaks and face some strong winds along the Highline Trail. So it’s a good idea to dress in layers, carry a fleece jacket, and an umbrella or a rain jacket.

Bear Safety: Hike in groups, make noise to make your presence known, carry bear spray, follow bear safety guidelines published by National Park Service. Though I haven’t called out mountain goats, they’re wild animals too and can cause severe physical harm when aggravated, so please maintain distance from all wild animals during your hike.

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Hiking The Highline Trail

Highline Trail Map

Highline Trail Map

Highline Trail Hiking Options

Generally, hiking Highline Trail includes hiking from the Logan Pass to the end of the trail at The Loop trailhead. However, there’re several sections on the Highline Trail, and it is entirely customizable. You could either hike just a portion of the Highline Trail or combine a few additional trails to your hike. Here are the various Highline Trail hiking options and essential trail details to help your plan your hike.

  • Highline Trail Hike To Haystack Pass (7 miles)
  • Highline Trail Hike To Granite Park Chalet (11.6 miles)
  • Highline Trail Hike To Grinnell Glacier Overlook & Granite Park Chalet (13.2 Miles)

The Highline Trail starts at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, with the trailhead located just across the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and follows along the Continental Divide, also known as the Garden Wall.

The hike’s first section is along a narrow ledge hanging from the mountain’s face and overlooking the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This tight ledge, around 6-8 feet wide, lasts for about 1600 feet and is the only part of the hike that might appear a bit challenging to people scared of heights, but the park has hand cables installed along the mountain wall on this part of the hike. Once you cross this section, the trail mellows down, and you’re greeted with spectacular sceneries all along.

No matter if you hike the entire Highline Trail or just a part, you will see some of the best views of Glacier National Park!

Haystack Pass

Highline Trail | Haystack Pass | Glacier National Park

Highline Trail Hike To Haystack Pass

Logan Pass  Haystack Pass

After hiking about 3.5 miles from Logan Pass, which includes crossing a switchback and a short steep climb, you will reach the Haystack Pass. Haystack Pass offers panoramic views of the valley and a popular picnic spot among hikers. Many people end their Highline Trail hike at Haystack Pass and return to Logan Pass after enjoying the valley views.

  • Trailhead & Trail End: Start and end at Logan Pass
  • Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
  • Parking Lot: Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous

Granite Park Chalet

Highline Trail | Granite Park Chalet | Glacier National Park

Highline Trail Hike To Granite Park Chalet

Logan PassHaystack PassGranite Park Chalet

Located 7.5 miles from Logan Pass and about 4 miles from Haystack Pass, the Granite Park Chalet is a historical landmark in Glacier National Park built in the year 1915. The Granite Park Chalet was constructed to provide a rest area for backcountry hikers. The chalet is still operational with 12 guestrooms, a shared kitchen, and sells packaged food, snacks, and bottled water to day hikers. The Granite Park Chalet can be reserved online for overnight stays, but you must plan and reserve way in advance.

This is the most popular Highline Trail hiking route, starting from Logan Pass, crossing Haystack Pass, spending some time at Granite Park Chalet, and then heading to The Loop trailhead, which is the end of the hike. The hike to The Loop trailhead from Granite Park Chalet is about 4 miles. From The Loop trailhead, you can ride the park shuttle to Logan Pass Visitor Center.

  • Trailhead & Trail End: Start at Logan Pass, end at The Loop trailhead
  • Distance: 11.6 miles
  • Parking Lot: Logan Pass / The Loop trailhead
  • Difficulty: Highly Strenuous

Grinnell Glacier Overlook

Grinnell Glacier Overlook | Highline Trail

Highline Trail Hike To Grinnell Glacier Overlook & Granite Park Chalet

Logan PassHaystack PassGrinnell Glacier OverlookGranite Park Chalet

The Grinnell Glacier Overlook offers stunning views of the Grinnell Glacier and the Many Glacier area. However, it is a very strenuous 1.6 miles roundtrip hike branching from the Highline Trail and includes a very steep climb up through a rocky terrain. But the views from Grinnell Glacier Overlook are really worth the extra effort, and I highly recommend hiking to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook.

The 0.8-mile oneway trail to Grinnell Glacier Overlook is located before Granite Park Chalet, at about 6.8 miles from Logan Pass. The short but steep hike will take you to Grinnell Glacier Overlook, and once done, you will need to hike down 0.8 miles and then continue your trek to Granite Park Chalet. From Granite Park Chalet, hike 4 miles to The Loop trailhead, from where you can take the park shuttle back to Logan Pass Visitor Center.

  • Trailhead & Trail End: Start at Logan Pass, end at The Loop trailhead
  • Distance: 13.2 miles
  • Parking Lot: Logan Pass / The Loop trailhead
  • Difficulty: Extremely Strenuous

Though extremely strenuous, I highly recommend including the Grinnell Glacier Overview on your Highline Trail hike! 

Highline Trail is undoubtedly the best hike in Glacier National Park and a must-do when visiting the park. However, if you have more time, you will find several other hiking trails in Glacier National Park. You can find the complete list of hiking trails, must-see points on Going-to-the-Sun Road scenic drive, camping, lodging, and dining options, in my Ultimate Guide To Glacier National Park.

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The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Highline TrailI hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Hiking The Highline Trail, and I hope this will help you plan your Highline Trail hike in Glacier National Park. You can find other Montana attractions in my Montana Travel Guide.

Happy feeding your soul!
Shreyashi

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