Our time near Glacier Park is drawing to a close, and we have had to put off a handful of our planned hikes due to the fires on the East side. Still on our list to do was the Highline Trail and either start from Logan Pass or the Loop. After looking at maps and listening to a few people, we decided to start from the Loop and walk up to Granite Chalet. From there, we hoped to climb to the Grinnell Glacier overlook.
We wanted to do the Highline trail for weeks now. We have a guide map that has the trails rated, and the highline trail is rated #1. The guide said that starting at the Loop entrance to the Highline Trail is the steepest, but levels off if you want to get the incline out of the way first. We thought that was a great idea! Boy, were we in for a surprise! Paying more attention to the map and the continuous yellow to red highlights might have made us change our mind. LOL The trail from The Loop entrance to the Granite Park Chalet is only 4.2 miles. We thought it was the best way to get up there. The Highline Trailhead begins at Logan Pass and goes 7.4 miles to the Chalet.
It was smarter to take the shorter distance, right? We realized when we arrived at the Chalet and saw masses of people walking from the direction of Logan Pass that most people choose to start there. We understand why. The incline from the Loop to the Chalet is 2,353 feet in the 4.2 miles with at least four sections considered class 3 steep trail. The elevation from Logan Pass to the Chalet is relatively nonexistent. The elevation at Logan Pass is 6,646 and the Chalet is at 6,650 (The Loop trailhead starts at 4,297ft. We kept wondering why we were essentially alone on the hike up from The Loop! Most sane people start at Logan Pass and go the 11 mile loop to pick up a bus back to their car. Flat and longer miles or straight up and shorter miles? Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We ended up with about 11 miles total anyway.
From the Chalet you can go another 1.4 miles and see the Grinnell Glacier overlook.
We were told this was worth it, and we were very interested to see it. However, there’s another 900 or so feet to climb to get to the overlook. We don’t consider ourselves out of shape, but we were running low on knee and leg strength. We decided to go for it anyway! We started our way up to the overlook on the STEEP incline. It was scary at some points. There’s really only enough space for one person to walk, but what happens when someone is coming the opposite way? You climb yourself onto the ledge and let them pass, rocks crumbly beneath your feet and all. All we kept thinking was about the trip DOWN.
Up was beginning to take a toll on both our joints. Sean has knee trouble from years of soccer and a few accidents, and Sherry has hip and knee troubles. We had to stop often and rest our weary legs, and at one point Sherry said she just couldn’t do any more. Her hip was shooting pain down her leg, and she didn’t think it was a good idea to push it. We were probably 1/4 mile or less to the summit, but still had a hill to climb to get there. It wasn’t worth being injured when we knew we still had another 5 miles down to get back to the truck. We bailed out and started heading back down. We’re not sure which was worse, up or down. Both are taxing for different reasons: up is hard on your heart and lungs, but down kills the knees and toes.
We did survive the journey and feel that it was well worth the effort to get up there. The views are some we haven’t seen while here at the park.
We understand why the trail is rated #1. We are considering doing it again and starting at Logan Pass this time. We think that if we didn’t abuse our joints going up that we might have more energy to get to the overlook. There’s another trail called Swiftcurrent that starts in Many Glacier that overlooks Grinnell Glacier as well. We may try that one instead; however, there’s another 1,700ft. elevation change on that 5 mile one-way hike. Maybe we are stronger after this one and can manage it better. Check the blog later to know if we tried it! Lol.
We still have things we want to do here, but we are ready to move on. We talked yesterday while driving through the park that with the drought people are not seeing the same park we saw almost two months ago. Some of the rivers are almost nonexistent and the waterfalls are no longer flowing. We talk about coming back in early June or late May to see the snow melt and more of the water flowing.
We took MANY amazing photos while we hiked this trail. Go to our gallery of photos to view the rest: http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/The-Loop-TrailGranite-Park-Cha/