Trail of the Cedars
Includes Avalanche Gorge, Avalanche Lake
Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park
The Trail of the Cedars is less than a mile long, but we are confident that it will make a lasting impression on you. You will see ancient trees, as well as the famous Avalanche Gorge that runs through this wonderland of old growth forest. The Trail of the Cedars is located about 6 miles east of Lake McDonald Lodge, along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The gigantic trees are mainly red cedar and black cottonwood, and are more commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. This "land of the giants" is a unique area that has escaped fire and avalanches for hundreds of years, and as you walk through it, you are truly walking back in time. Again, this short hike will remain in your thoughts for years to come, and we strongly recommend that you visit it during your Glacier National Park Vacation.
These huge cedars dwarf Shannon as she walks along the Trail of the Cedars boardwalk in Glacier National Park.
The Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park is an extremely enjoyable and relaxing short little hike. If you're staying at Lake McDonald Lodge or Apgar, we recommend that you head up the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass for the day, and then on your way back stop at the Trail of the Cedars for this quick yet beautiful walk.
Avalanche Gorge in Glacier National Park is a very special treat that runs through the center of your walk along the Trail of the Cedars. A well built foot bridge will take you directly over Avalanche Creek, and it will allow you to look up into the deep, narrow stone walls that create this breathtaking gorge. These stone walls that line Avalanche Gorge are polished smooth by the swift flow of water eroding the rock for thousands of years.
The Trail of the Cedars is a Quick Hike!
The Trail of the Cedars is a really quick little hike- so do this on the way to another activity. For example, if you're staying at Lake McDonald Lodge or Apgar, a good opportunity to take this short hike is when you're coming back down the Going-to-the-Sun Road from Logan Pass after you've spent a day up there enjoying the pass. DO NOT MAKE A FULL DAY OF IT!!!
We've seen countless visitors plan their entire day around this area, where instead they should have headed up the Going-to-the-Sun Road and enjoyed the amazing trails on Logan Pass for the majority of the day.
Halfway through your Trail of the Cedars hike in Glacier National Park, you will see a trail that takes you to Avalanche Lake. The lake is about 2 miles from this junction, and the trail is very gradual and easy. The Avalanche Lake area was carved by a gigantic glacier (over 6,000 feet thick) tens of thousands of years ago, and what remains is a monstrous bowl with steep cliffs nearly all the way around it. The lake itself is very shallow and usually quite warm during the summer season.
Trailhead: Trail of The Cedars Boardwalk
Distance: 2.9 Miles
Elevation Gain: 505 feet
Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park is a popular place for visitors who are looking for a short easy hike to a beautiful lake.
The sharp peak rising above the far end of Avalanche Lake is known as the Little Matterhorn, which is just south of the famous Sperry Glacier. The large mountain to the left (west) is Bearhat Mountain and to the right is Mount Brown. The largest of the several waterfalls cascading down the huge walls is Monument Falls.
This is a view of Avalanche Lake from the summit of Mount Brown. Note Bearhat Mountain to the east of Avalanche Lake, and the sharp spire known as Little Matterhorn to the south. A portion of the famous Sperry Glacier is seen in the upper right hand corner of this photo. For more "Views from the Summits" click here.
The hike to Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular short hikes in Glacier National Park. It's popularity is partly due to its convenient location along the Going To The Sun Road, near Lake McDonald Lodge and Apgar Village. With this popularity comes a lot of hikers, usually all day long. So if you're looking for solitude, Avalanche Lake is not the place for you.
And what many Glacier Park visitors do wrong (in our opinion) is they book an entire day of their vacation for the Avalanche Lake hike, which is OK if they've already been up to Logan Pass and have hiked to the Hidden Lake Overlook and have hiked along a portion of the Highline Trail. You see, Logan Pass, the drive up to Logan Pass, the Hidden Lake Trail and the Highline Trail are some of the most beautiful and scenic attractions found anywhere in North America, and it's a shame if a Glacier National Park visitor didn't explore these attractions but instead hiked to Avalanche Lake.
Please don't take us wrong...Avalanche Lake is indeed beautiful. We just feel it's not "the most beautiful" area in Glacier, when comparing it to the Logan Pass Area, or the Many Glacier Area, so we recommend that you consider each day of your vacation very carefully before you commit an entire day to Avalanche Lake.
Avalanche Creek flows through the center of the Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park.
The Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park is an extremely enjoyable hike that only takes about an hour, so make sure you don't plan your whole day around this short hike. Get to Logan Pass and enjoy the day up there, then on your way back stop at the Trail of the Cedars and enjoy this short yet gorgeous boardwalk hike!