Viewing entries tagged
Waterfalls

9 Comments

Glacier National Park: The Sun Point Nature Trail

attachment-51f6be21e4b0a47470b67a92

The Sun Point Nature Trail was the last hike we took on our recent trip to Glacier National Park. The day was (finally) sunny and windy as we headed down from Logan Pass toward the east side of the park.

The trail begins just off the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the St. Mary Lake area. You'll see signs for Sun Point and the turn-off will take you to a parking lot. The great thing about this trail is that it converges with several others leading to waterfalls and backcountry lakes and campgrounds. 

We started off the day by heading up to the Sun Point viewing area. The wind was incredibly strong, however, the viewing area offered a fantastic view of western-most portion of St. Mary Lake and the mountains that make up the continental divide. Read: It's worth being shoved around a bit by the elements.

Sun Point // Glacier National Park, Montana

Sun Point // Glacier National Park, Montana

Our plan was to see at least three of the waterfalls accessible via the Sun Point Nature Trail parking lot: Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. Once you start the trail along the north edge of the lake, you'll want to stop often to take in the view.

Bear Grass // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Bear Grass // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Wildflowers and butterflies along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Wildflowers and butterflies along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Wildflowers along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Wildflowers along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Lake // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Lake // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Lake // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Lake // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

You'll first come to Baring Falls, which is a small water feature compared to the others in Glacier. I didn't get a good picture of Baring Falls, but If you keep going you'll end up at a bridge that offers this view of the much more impressive St. Mary Falls:

St. Mary Falls // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

St. Mary Falls // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Several groups of hikers had stopped on either side of the bridge to take photos and have lunch, so we opted to keep going toward Virginia Falls. The trail quickly became much quieter, so I'm guessing a lot of people turn around and head back after seeing St. Mary Falls.

Just after leaving St. Mary Falls, we spotted a deer grazing on the trail. She heard us coming and headed back down the hill before I could snap a good picture. I would imagine the trail sees plenty of wildlife thanks to its lush plant life, dense tree cover and abundant water sources. 

Plant life along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Plant life along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

More beautiful wildflowers along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

More beautiful wildflowers along the Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

When you reach Virginia Falls, you'll hear it before you see it. There are two viewing spots for this good-sized waterfall. One can be found after crossing a short bridge along the trail that heads around the south end of St. Mary Lake.  

Virginia Falls // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Virginia Falls // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

However, we decided to see the waterfall up close by heading up to the Virginia Falls View Point. The one sunny day during our trip and we found ourselves a place to get sopping wet at the bottom of Virginia Falls.

I loved it. 

Virginia Falls (up close) // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Virginia Falls (up close) // Sun Point Nature Trail  // Glacier National Park, MT

Of course, I didn't take many pictures at this point. There was so much mist coming off the falls! The water rushing down the rock walls combined with the powerful wind and the slippery rocks underfoot made for a fun, but short stay at Virginia Falls. We turned to leave and I realized that I was sporting the biggest grin ever.  

If you only have one day and want to experience some beautiful waterfalls, I highly recommend this trail system. According to our calculations the hike was a little over 6 miles round trip -- from the Sun Point viewing area up to Virginia Falls and back. The hike wasn't difficult, but there were definitely some windy and slippery areas along the way. Also, be sure to follow your map and pay attention to signage as there are several forks in the trail to get to the various waterfalls.

I do have to note that the Sun Point Nature Trail is also a great starting point for a longer hike to Gunsight Lake. From what I can tell on the map, you can even hike this trail system all the way to Lake McDonald on the west side of the park!

Maybe next time. :) 

------ 

Have any of you checked out the waterfalls around St. Mary Lake? I know Sun Point is a really popular area during the summer months. If you've been to Sun Point before, perhaps you can answer me this: is it always so darn windy??

Related Posts: 

Tag: Glacier National Park


Let's hang out: Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Subscribe


9 Comments

10 Comments

Glacier National Park: Chasing Waterfalls

I realize that I've just dated myself by referencing TLC in a blog post title, but I don't care. When it comes to our national parks, chasing waterfalls is a must.

Luckily, waterfalls are everywhere in and around Glacier National Park: along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, at the end of beautiful hikes, cascading down a stone wall on the side of the highway. The abundance never gets old, either. You'd think we'd tire of seeing fresh, frigid water streaming from melting snow fields or roaring through massive rock walls.

Nope. 

Staircase Waterfall - Flathead National Forest (southern border of Glacier National Park).

Staircase Waterfall - Flathead National Forest (southern border of Glacier National Park).

Bird Woman Falls from the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Bird Woman Falls from the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Can you spot the water flowing from the snowfield? Just one of the many waterfalls we spotted from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Can you spot the water flowing from the snowfield? Just one of the many waterfalls we spotted from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Stunning.

Stunning.

Haystack Falls is a beauty, but seeing the water rush under the Going-to-the-Sun Road made me appreciate just how amazing the road really is.

Haystack Falls is a beauty, but seeing the water rush under the Going-to-the-Sun Road made me appreciate just how amazing the road really is.

Red Rock Falls (in the Many Glacier area) on a rainy day.

Red Rock Falls (in the Many Glacier area) on a rainy day.

Running Eagle Falls in the Two Medicine area.

Running Eagle Falls in the Two Medicine area.

St. Mary Falls along the Sun Point Nature Trail.

St. Mary Falls along the Sun Point Nature Trail.

Virginia Falls along the Sun Point Nature Trail.

Virginia Falls along the Sun Point Nature Trail.

I'll be sharing more about my favorite waterfall hike of the trip next week. If you're planning a trip to Glacier National Park, my advice is to see as many as possible. It won't get old. I promise. 

---- 

Anyone else have an amazing waterfall experience in Glacier National Park? What about can't miss waterfalls in other national parks? Be sure to share your stories in the comment section. I love reading them!

Related Posts: 

Tag: Glacier National Park


Let's hang out: Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Subscribe


10 Comments

11 Comments

Glacier National Park: The Hike to Avalanche Lake

attachment-51dd7424e4b01df64ad55d74

The hike to Avalanche Lake is great for two reasons:

  1. It's not super long and you get some fantastic views.
  2. You kind of get a two-for-one deal because it branches off of another trail. 

This is the first hike we went on after arriving in Glacier National Park and halfway through is about the time we declared Glacier as the best national park EVER.

The hike begins with the Trail of the Cedars, which is an accessible loop trail consisting of boardwalks and paved surfaces. While it wasn't the most challenging part of the hike that morning, I loved that it was accessible for those in a wheelchair and I instantly thought of my mom's friend Jeri who writes about accessible travel over at Anything is Possible Travel (you'd love it, Jeri!).

As you can see, we started out the hike on a dry morning. That didn't last. 

Trail of the Cedars. Accessible boardwalks through the forest?! Yes, please.

Trail of the Cedars. Accessible boardwalks through the forest?! Yes, please.

Avalanche Creek runs alongside the Trail of the Cedars.

Avalanche Creek runs alongside the Trail of the Cedars.

About half way along the Trail of the Cedars loop, we reached the fork that would take us to Avalanche Lake. What we heard was the roaring Avalanche Creek (apparently they use the term "creek" very differently in Montana. It looked like a river to us!) flowing through a gorge.

After taking the Avalanche Lake trail, the upper portion of the gorge comes into full view. If I'm being completely honest, I probably could have stood there all day watching the water rush through those well-polished rock walls. Stunning, I tell you. 

Upper Avalanche Gorge, looking upstream.

Upper Avalanche Gorge, looking upstream.

Upper Avalanche Gorge, looking downstream.

Upper Avalanche Gorge, looking downstream.

Once we passed the gorge, the creek leveled out a bit and looked more like the creeks we're used to seeing -- you know, the calm, meandering kind?

Avalanche Creek from the Avalanche Lake Trail (upstream from the gorge).  

Avalanche Creek from the Avalanche Lake Trail (upstream from the gorge).  

Overall, the trail to Avalanche Lake is pretty moderate. There were some steep, rocky areas, but there wasn't a huge elevation gain to get to the lake. If you head out on this hike in early summer like we did, be sure to wear waterproof or quick-drying clothing! Rain happens. :) 

A short boardwalk along the trail to Avalanche Lake.

A short boardwalk along the trail to Avalanche Lake.

Beauty along the trail to Avalanche Lake. Looks like it belongs in a movie, no?

Beauty along the trail to Avalanche Lake. Looks like it belongs in a movie, no?

A few miles after taking the Avalanche Lake trail junction we caught glimpses of the lake. While there are several areas to view the lake, one particular area offers a nice beach with places to sit. It would be the perfect spot to have lunch if you get to the lake around mid-day.

Avalanche Lake 

Avalanche Lake 

Avalanche Lake 

Avalanche Lake 

We could have continued along the trail around the lake, but since we were pretty soaked by that point and had plans to check out another part of the park that afternoon, we decided to turn around and head back.

Eventually we reached the junction with the Trail of the Cedars loop and we took the east side of the loop trail, which we hadn't seen that morning. The first thing you come to is a bridge crossing the gorge. 

The bridge crossing Avalanche Gorge.

The bridge crossing Avalanche Gorge.

The perfect spot to view Avalanche Gorge.

The perfect spot to view Avalanche Gorge.

The view upstream from the bridge. Not bad, right?

The view upstream from the bridge. Not bad, right?

After stopping to watch the beautiful turquoise water for a bit, we continued along the very soggy boardwalk back to the parking lot on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.   

Just beautiful.

Just beautiful.

As I mentioned, the hike to Avalanche Lake wasn't super strenuous. I believe it was about 4.5 miles round trip (out and back to the junction with the Trail of the Cedars). The sights along the way are worth the hike and Avalanche Lake is a beauty.

That said, if you're looking for a short nature walk, the Trail of the Cedars is just under a mile long and offers incredible scenery with minimal effort. I highly recommend it.

-----

I've got many more Glacier National Park posts to come, my friends! Stay tuned. 

----- 

Related Posts: 

Tag: Glacier National Park


Let's hang out: Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Subscribe


11 Comments

2 Comments

The Post-Vacation Blues

That's a thing, right? The post-vacation blues? It must be, because I'm fairly certain I've got a pretty serious case on my hands. 

attachment-51d2f56ce4b0a433e9c1559d
attachment-51d2f522e4b0276725bc0bd4
attachment-51d2f5f8e4b085686830ff8b
attachment-51d2f5c8e4b0141aacb4cc55

By this time last week, we had already indulged in some incredible outdoor adventures in Glacier National Park and I'm having a wee bit of trouble adjusting to "real life" back here at home.

Have any of you experienced something similar? We came back to temperatures well over 100 degrees, terrible air quality, an adorable dog who somehow managed to get himself a pretty impressive puncture wound (all signs are pointing toward a speedy recovery), work stress and more.

In a word: yuck.

I want to know: How do you deal, oh wise ones? What helps to get you back into the swing of things when all you want to do is hop right back in the car and run away from home? I could really use your advice because this recent trip to Montana has me... let's just say... questioning my priorities.


Let's hang out: Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Subscribe


2 Comments