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Glacier hiking guide book
Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks provides details for more than 60 hikes, including trail descriptions, best hiking seasons, difficulty ratings, average hiking times, GPS- compatible maps, and hikes suited to every ability.

Hidden Lake

Trail Features: Outstanding views, Alpine meadows, Lake Hidden Lake
Trail Location: Logan Pass Visitor Center
Roundtrip Length: 5.4 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1325 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 491 Feet
Highest Elevation: 7152 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 8.05 (moderate)
Parking Lot Latitude 48.69539
Parking Lot Longitude -113.71826

Trail Description:

The hike to Hidden Lake begins from the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Once on the back side of the visitor center, after climbing the stairway, stay towards the right and look for the Hanging Gardens Trailhead. The trail is commonly referred to as the Hidden Lake Nature Trail.

glacier lilliesThe entire length of this trail is completely open and exposed as you proceed through the alpine meadows known as the Hanging Gardens. At this lofty elevation visitors should normally expect a lot of sun and wind. You should also expect extreme crowds, as the Hidden Lake Overlook area is one of the most popular destinations in the park. As a result, parking is usually an issue during peak tourist season. If you wish to avoid the crowds I highly recommend starting your hike as early in the morning as possible.

The trail begins as a paved surface, but soon turns into a raised boardwalk after only a short distance. At this elevation snow tends to linger around well into the summer. The boardwalk helps to keep hikers above the snow, slush, mud and rivulets. Once the snow melts, however, the Hanging Gardens becomes an incredibly beautiful carpet of wildflowers.

clements-mountainAs you proceed upwards during the early portions of the hike, 8760-foot Clements Mountain will dominate the view directly in front of you (see photo on right). Look towards the north, on your right, for some outstanding views of the Garden Wall (see photo above). Standing towards the northwest is 8180-foot Mt. Oberlin.

A little more than a half-mile from the visitor center, after climbing a series of steps, hikers will reach the end of the boardwalk section. From here the trail shifts to a more southwesterly course, and begins heading in the direction of Bearhat Mountain. Both 9125-foot Mt. Reynolds and 8016-foot Heavy Runner Mountain will be on your left as you proceed to the top of the climb.

Even relatively late into the season it's likely you'll have to cross over a couple of small snowfields as you proceed towards the overlook.

At just over a mile from the trailhead hikers will reach a small rise, then will pass a couple of small ponds on your left. Just beyond this section, roughly 1.2 miles from the trailhead, you'll reach the Continental Divide where runoff from snow and rain begins flowing towards the Pacific Ocean.


At 1.35 miles hikers will arrive at the Hidden Lake Overlook where you'll enjoy outstanding panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. From this vantage point 8684-foot Bearhat Mountain is the dominating feature above Hidden Lake. Looking directly towards the west is 8952-foot Mount Cannon. Towards the south is 8750-foot Fusillade Mountain, and towards the southwest you'll be able to see Gunsight Mountain and Sperry Glacier in the far off distance. Mountain goats are fairly common in the area surrounding the overlook. You should also keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, marmots, and even wolverines. Grizzly bears are also occasionally seen in the area as well.


Soon after passing the overlook the trail begins descending along the southern slopes of Clements Mountain. As you proceed downward you'll enjoy excellent views of the lake, as well as Mt. Brown, Mt. Stanton and the upper portions of the Lake McDonald valley towards the west.

As you continue to descend the route becomes progressively steeper as you get closer to the lake, and eventually begins traveling down a series of switchbacks. In all, the trail drops roughly 770 feet from the overlook to the lakeshore.


At roughly 2.7 miles hikers will finally reach the northwest corner of Hidden Lake. There's a small beach area that extends in either direction, and offers hikers the opportunity to do a little exploring around the glacially-carved lake, or possibly find a more secluded location for lunch. If needed, there are pit toilets near the end of the trail.


Dominating the views from the shoreline will be Bearhat Mountain on your right and Reynolds Mountain towards the left, while Fusillade Mountain lies directly across the lake.

Hidden Lake is a popular destination for anglers. Perhaps the most famous fisherman to ever visit the lake was George H. W. Bush. In 1983 the then-Vice President hiked to the shores of Hidden Lake to fish for trout for several hours.

mapHiden Lake elevation profile