Apgar Lookout Trail
Trailhead: Near Apgar Village
Distance: 3.3 miles (one way)
Elevation Gain: 1,850 vertical feet
We've always been a little baffled as to why the hike to Apgar Lookout in Glacier National Park is so widely publicized in hiking guides, etc. because it's really not that great of a hike when compared to the dozens and dozens of far better hikes in Glacier National Park. The view from Apgar Lookout has the POTENTIAL of being incredibly breathtaking, but the best views are mainly obstructed by cables, towers and trees, and the hike up the mountain is through the remnants of a fairly recent forest fire, so there is no shade as you literally "bake" in the sun as you work your way up the mountain, especially if you take this hike in the late afternoon when the lighting is best for photographing the mountains of Glacier Park from the observation deck. Also keep in mind that the trail climbs 1,850 vertical feet in about 2.5 miles, so please make sure you are in adequate physical condition before attempting this Glacier Park hike.
A view of Glacier National Park's Livingston Range from the Apgar Lookout observation deck.
Finding The Trailhead
To get to the Apgar Lookout Trailhead in Glacier National Park, look for a paved road about 200 yards north of the West Entrance to Glacier National Park which is known as the Apgar Horse Corral Road. When you reach a "Y" in the road, stay left towards the Quarter Circle Bridge. About 1.5 miles beyond this bridge on a gravel road, you will see the Apgar Lookout Trailhead sign.
The Hike To Apgar Lookout and Apgar Mountain
The Apgar Lookout Trail starts out as an old primitive road through fairly level benchland, and then turns
into a regular hiking trail as it begins to climb in vertical elevation. There are a number of switchbacks onthis trail that make it easier for the hikers, but it is still fairly steep so make sure you are in adequate physical condition before attempting this Glacier National Park hike. As the trail gains in elevation, it works its way through an old forest fire area, making it quite hot in the afternoon as there is absolutely no shade.
Once you reach the Apgar Lookout, you will be able to see the mountains of the Livingston Range of Glacier National Park to the east, as well as a portion of Lake McDonald far below you. The problem is that there are cables and antennas that interfere with your view of this incredible landscape. Also, there are trees and bushes that also block the best view from the Apgar Lookout.
To the southeast, you can see the impressive Flathead Range, with Great Northern Mountain and Stanton Glacier reaching the highest point on the horizon. The Swan Range can be seen to the west, as well as the North Fork of the Flathead River.
Best Time of Day
The best time of day for good photos of the mountains of Glacier National Park is late afternoon. That is when the western sun warms up these amazing mountains to the east. The problem with that is the trail is on a west slope with no shade, so the sun will be beating down on you the entire way. So if you're not that interesting in lighting, and you just want to get up there and take in all in, then you might want to hike to Apgar Lookout early in the morning before it gets too hot.
Bring Your Own Water!
There is absolutely no water found anywhere along the trail to Apgar Lookout in Glacier National Park, so we highly recommend that you carry plenty of water with you.
As we stated earlier, as far as scenery goes, the POTENTIAL of this location is remarkable. But the obstructions that block the best views from Apgar Lookout detract from this view. In our opinion, there are far better trails and far more scenic trails in Glacier National Park that you should be spending your valuable vacation time on.
For a list of our favorite day hikes in Glacier National Park, CLICK HERE.
The Hike to Akokala Lake
A view of Lake McDonald from the Apgar Lookout observation deck in Glacier National Park.