One of America's icons settled in the glorious, open, and rugged Montana. Glacier has the appeal for weekend warriors and backpackers alike and I'm stoked to share some awesome beta on a little in-between hidden gems especially for folks like us traveling with our beloved dogters.
We spent our first night at Mooseshroom Camp we found on Hipcamp. We expected a cute little campsite just 10 minutes outside of the West Entrance of the Park instead we got an AMAZING campsite just 5 minutes from two awesome cafe's and the 10 minutes from the park entrance we wanted. We did find that in order to drive into the park you either need to enter before 6am or after 1600 ( or have a prepaid ticket) and this time of the year unfortunately due to conditions the Road to the Sun was closed and we could not get passed Avalanche Lake by vehicle but we did find some less traveled gems with both our dogs and just the humans.
Mooseshroom Camp is an amazing yurt and campsite scene where the owner has graciously incorporated a community center with HOT SHOWERS, a small kitchen, beautiful fire pits, gardens, and actual toilets. I say again my friends, HOT SHOWERS, COFFEE, and TOILETS! Such a beautiful landscape tucked away in the woods with the kindest host - with whom if you get to meet and have a conversation, has the most inspiring story. We loved this spot so much and when we go back we will camp no where else. Just a few minutes away was Sun Flower Cafe for a pre hike breakfast ; we tried the s'more Latte, a breakfast bowl, and overnight oats. The cafe has an open concept with a huge fire pit, surrounded by overhanging trees, and really encapsulates the woodsy feel we seek while sipping a hot cup of joe in the am. Lastly, we loved this place so much we went twice in our few days there Great Bear Cafe has the MOST AMAZING Huckleberry Lemonade and bison burgers! Really, I can not emphasize enough the purple skewed deliciousness of this beverage - truly as mystical and amazing as the overarching mountain hues painted in the wild skies seen from the patio sipping this beverage.
Our first hike, the only dog friendly one, is the paved McDonald Creek Bike path from West Glacier Bay Entrance to Agpar Village. We parked outside of the park because we did not have the driving passes but it really only added a mile or so; honestly, even on this pathed route there was one bear encounter and some moose. ALWAYS carry bear spray, and bells; especially with doggos. We had cheap little bells on each of our girls; we sounded like a Christmas sled but it kept us safe. The walk despite being paved remained wild and the canopy of trees overhanging the entire walk gave us the wonderful scent and reprise of nature. We arrived in Agpar Village and treated the entire fam to the famous village Eddies Ice Cream. We finished our day out at Echo Lake paddle boarding and island hopping with the doggos. It was an awesome reprise from the heat and a full family fun day!
The next day we had lodging reserved for our fur babies, so we could get out to Avalanche Lake, at Glacier Bark Kennels. The staff were very responsive and friendly. We do not typically like boarding facilities because the girls don't get to play and it can feel more like caged time but this facility was clean, responsive, and really great with them. We use Fi collars and my wife regularly checks in on her movement on the app. Their location was just 20 minutes from our site and the West Entrance so it was very convenient to allow us the day in the park on Avalanche Lake.
Once in awhile on the trail sneak peeks of the mountain peaks where the tree line breaks, unveiling the white coated summits and scaling cliffs, like a curtain being pulled back to show the stars of natures production on its grand stage.
We drove through the unattended park gates at 0530 before the manned stations check for tickets; we weren't the only ones and it quickly became quite inflated with vehicle traffic. The only hiccup was some night construction wrapping up and trying to get out that halted the entire inbound traffic. We used the time to make some coffee and oatmeal under the rising sun. We were lucky enough to snag a parking spot, but they were far and few between. We walked in on the beautiful boardwalk Trail of the Cedars on the south Avalanche Gorge footbridge. It's just under 6 miles total trip mileage and very achievable for all fitness levels. The trail is wide and very well maintained; rolling through the hills ascending very mildly. The trail is tucked under the skyline of nature with trees brimming ahead. Once in awhile on the trail sneak peeks of the mountain peaks where the tree line breaks, unveiling the white coated summits and scaling cliffs, like a curtain being pulled back to show the stars of natures production. Water violent and tranquilizing all the same rush along side the trail for much of it; winding and crashing along its banks its sharp and cold blue piercing the green towering trees. The trail leads to the famous Avalanche Lake where the blue lay peacefully at the foot of the climbing mountain tops.
We finished quite quickly and though we wanted to continue up the Road to the Sun to the more challenging peaks , the road was closed, and only open to foot traffic and bikes. We considered it but 14 miles to the trailhead seemed a bit far for a day trip, even for us. We settled on Fish Lake trail a moderate 5.5 miler to a serene less traveled pond. The hike was surprisingly challenging as it climbed straight up for a few miles; it tapered and the rest remained very mild with some peaceful stream crossings until we approached the algae bodied water. We did find some venous flytraps of sorts; they were tiny , sharp - needle covered- blobs of green with mouths of red waiting their unsuspecting bug prey. It was a nice really secluded hike that allowed for some peaceful hiking amidst the trees. The small group behind us ran into us in the parking lot and told us of their Grizzly siting walking down; I couldn't believe just behind us a big bear crossed the trail! Insert- always carry bear spray!
Only minutes behind us the small group reported a huge grizzly crossing on the trail...they were stuck, frozen in fear in the deep wood...
We reserved our last night for a special ABNB Airframe Cabin that felt like a magical dream come true. The cabin sat against the thick woods adjacent to another home - perhaps another ABNB but not occupied. We had our own fire pit and hanging tea lights. The outdoor shower was remarkable and really a truly liberating and incredible experience everyone should have. The cabin also boasted a secluded trail that took you down to a swimming hole with a running stream. This was an absolutely romantic and cozy cabin in the woods.
Lastly, a couple foodies highlights for some stops we made post hike and in-betweens. The following are strongly recommended!
Backslope Brewing standard burgers with garlic parmesan fries - crooked slope IPA
Montana Coffee Traders
We headed out of Glacier Area proper and had a campsite at Flathead Reserve Park on our way to BANFF. It was a beautiful well maintained campsite that sat on the water with well maintained trails and boat launches. It was an awesome midpoint and a beautiful secluded campsite.
With love and Gratitude -