Lake McDonald Area
Includes Apgar Village, Lake McDonald Lodge, Trail of the Cedars, Mount Brown Lookout, Sperry Chalet, Sperry Glacier Trail
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.
Lake McDonald Area
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier Park, and it is definitely worth spending some time enjoying. The water is crystal clear, and the west slope of the continental divide creates an incredible backdrop.
There are six major attractions in the Lake McDonald Area.
We recommend that you consider all of them while you are in the area. Below are the six major highlights of the Lake McDonald Area in Glacier National Park....
LAKE McDONALD LODGE
Lake McDonald Lodge is one of three historic lodges found in Glacier Park. The other two are the Many Glacier Hotel and the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. The Lake McDonald Lodge has it's own distinct "feel", which we would describe it as "warm, welcoming and quaint."
The Lake McDonald Lodge is a great place to stay the night after (or before) an enjoyable day on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway and Logan Pass. The grand room inside the Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park is a terrific place to hang out and enjoy the fireplace- just like Charles M. Russell did for many summers throughout his life. In fact, he used to tell stories around this fireplace to all the lucky visitors who had the good fortune of staying at the lodge when this world famous "cowboy artist" was spending time there.
LAKE McDONALD BOAT TOUR
The wooden boat "Desmet" was built in 1930, and it has been taking visitors around Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park ever since. The dock is directly behind the Lake McDonald Lodge, and is a favorite among visitors.
The Desmet is the only "double-deckered" boat in Glacier Park, and you can really get a great view as the DesMet boat captain gives an entertaining and informative tour that the entire family can enjoy.
The wooden boats of Glacier are National Treasures and always fun to hop on board and take a ride, and the Lake McDonald Boat Tour is definitely quite popular.
TRAIL OF THE CEDARS
The Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park is a gorgeous walk through an old growth cedar and tamarack forest, and we highly recommend it. The trailhead is only about 6 miles west of Lake McDonald Lodge, and it is well worth the time. Not only will you see an incredible forest, but also the beautiful Avalanche Gorge carved out by Avalanche Creek. The entire hike around the Trail of the Cedars Loop is only 0.2 miles.
Beyond the foot bridge across Avalanche Gorge, you can continue on to Avalanche Lake. The lake is another 1.8 miles one way. Is Avalanche Lake our favorite lake? Our honest answer is No. Instead of taking one of your Glacier Park vacation days visiting Avalanche Lake, we suggest that you head up to Logan Pass for the day and enjoy either the Hidden Lake Lookout Trail, or the Highline Trail. Then on your way back take the short walk around the Trail of the Cedars. For detailed information on the "Trail of the Cedars", click here.
If you're in good shape, and you want to enjoy a unique and wonderful overnight experience in the Lake McDonald Area in Glacier National Park, then you definitely need to consider the historic Sperry Chalet. This amazing Chalet was built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railroad, and it is MAGIC!
The hike to the Sperry Chalet is 6.4 miles one way, and the trail climbs 3,432 vertical feet from the trailhead across from the Lake McDonald Lodge. That's why we say you should be in at least reasonable shape to attempt this hike.
You will eat like a king, and your bed is ready for sleeping. The Sperry Chalet is such a historic old place that you can literally "touch" the history there.
Once you are at the Sperry Chalet, the next morning you can take a fantastic hike to the Sperry Glacier! We strongly recommend that if you are going to spend the time and the money to stay at the Sperry Chalet, then you really, really need to check out one of the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park. IT'S AWESOME! For detailed information on the Sperry Glacier, click the following link: Sperry Glacier Trail.
Apgar Village is the "Hub" of the Lake McDonald Area in Glacier Park.
If you like to swim in fresh water lakes, Apgar Village is the place to go. Apgar is located on the southwest shore of Lake McDonald, about 12 miles west of Lake McDonald Lodge along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The water at Apgar Village in Glacier National Park is relatively shallow, so the sun really warms it up so you can enjoy a good swim without nearly freezing to death. This is really the only comfortable place to swim in the entire Glacier Park area, and families have a terrific time here.
You can also rent row boats, kayacks and motor boats at Apgar, and this is an extremely popular thing to do while visiting Apgar Village in Glacier Park.
Apgar Village is the "Hub" of the Lake McDonald Area.
Apgar Village has a great campground, grocery store, motel, gift shops, restaurant, ranger station, visitor center, boat dock and much more.
MOUNT BROWN LOOKOUT
The Mount Brown Lookout is a fun hike in the Lake McDonald Area, but you'd better be in reasonably good physical condition to attempt it. This hike is 5.4 miles (one way) and it climbs 4,325 vertical feet. This is NOT recommended for those who are not in adequate physical condition.
The views get better and better the higher you get on the Mount Brown Lookout Trail, and the actual view from the lookout is spectacular and is well worth the effort. For all the details click the following link:
About the hikes in the Lake McDonald Area... Can we talk?
The only trails we recommend in the Lake McDonald Area are the Trail of the Cedars, Sperry Chalet, Sperry Glacier Trail and the Mount Brown Lookout Trail. And as we have mentioned, two of those three trails require the hiker to be in good physical condition because they are quite demanding. Instead of taking the time hiking other trails in the Lake McDonald Area, such as the Apgar Lookout Trail, which is definitely NOT recommended, we suggest that you instead head up to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and enjoy two of the best hiking trails in North America, which is the Hidden Lake Trail and the Highline Trail. These are far more enjoyable and world-renowned. No other trails in the Lake McDonald Area come close to their awe-inspiring beauty.