Granite Park Chalet
|Trail Features:||Outstanding views, Wildflowers|
|Trail Location:||The Loop|
|Roundtrip Length:||8.4 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||2450 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||583 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||6670 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||13.30 (strenuous)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||48.755|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-113.80048|
This hike to the Granite Park Chalet begins from The Loop, a sharp bend in the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the west side of the park. The trailhead is located 13.1 miles east of the McDonald Lodge, near the apex in the bend of the road.
Although the trail is technically called the Granite Park Trail, many people refer to it as the Loop Trail. Roughly one-tenth of a mile from the trailhead you'll cross a footbridge, and almost immediately will begin to notice the devastation from the Trapper Creek Fire of 2003. Much of this hike will pass through the ghostly remains of thousands of dead trees.
At roughly six-tenths of a mile you'll reach the Packers Roost Trail junction. To continue on towards the Chalet hikers should veer towards the right here. Just beyond the junction the trail begins to climb, and over the course of the next 3.4 miles will make a steady and relatively steep climb of more than 2400 feet to reach the Chalet. With the trail being exposed for most of its length, you may want to consider starting this hike early in the morning when the forecast calls for hot and sunny weather.
Before 2003 the Granite Park Trail was heavily wooded, but the lightning ignited wildfire, which burned more than 19,000 acres, swept through and opened up vistas of the surrounding mountains. The forest, however, is already in the process of regeneration. Today you'll find extensive undergrowth, including thousands of wildflowers.
As you continue to climb higher make sure you look out across the valley for a birds-eye view of the massive 8987-foot Heavens Peak, the most dominate feature in the area. In the valley below is McDonald Creek, as well as many dead trees from the aforementioned fire.
At roughly 2.8 miles the trail begins passing through sections of healthy pine forest. In areas that are more open, as you near the top, you'll have some great views of the Garden Wall and Swiftcurrent Mountain directly in front of you. If you look closely you may even be able to spot the fire tower sitting atop the 8438-foot mountain.
At 3.6 miles hikers will reach the spur trail that leads to the Granite Park Backcountry Campground, which includes four individual campsites, two of which can be reserved ahead of time.
Hikers will arrive at the Highline Trail junction roughly 4.2 miles from the trailhead. A turn to the right will take you up to Logan Pass. Proceeding straight ahead will lead you towards the Fifty Mountain Backcountry Campground. To visit the Granite Park Chalet hikers should turn left here.
The Granite Park Chalet was built in 1914 and 1915 by the Great Northern Railway to provide comfortable backcountry accommodations inside Glacier National Park. The rustic lodge was the last of nine chalets built by the railroad, and today is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Compared to Sperry Chalet, the Granite Park Chalet is much more basic, and is essentially a simple hiker's hostel, with virtually no amenities. It has 12 guest rooms, each with 2 to 6 bunks. There's no electricity, but the common-area kitchen does have a propane stove where you can cook a warm lunch or dinner.
The chalet also sells packaged foods, beverages, snacks, and bottled water to hikers. If not interested in buying water, there's a stream about a quarter-mile away along a rocky and rugged trail. You will have to treat this water first. For more information and to make a reservation, please click here.