The Highline Trail is one of the top-rated trails in Glacier National Park, and adding the extra effort to make it up to the Grinnell Glacier overlook makes it even more spectacular.
Parking at the Logan Pass Visitor Center is extremely hard to come by, and is usually completely full by 7am. If you’re lucky you can find parking farther down Going-To-The-Sun Road and add some extra mileage to your hike, otherwise you have to use one of the Glacier National Park shuttle buses to get there.
Another issue with this being such a popular trail is the crowds. We’ve driven past it several time and it looks like ants marching during the day. Not fun!
I decided to start at 5am to beat the parking issues, the crowds, and the high heat that is forecast. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man hike without a catchy rhyme.
One huge downside of pre-dawn solo hiking is that this is grizzly bear country. Normally I listen to audiobooks on long hikes, but with hungry critters in the darkness I was on high alert until the sun finally rose.
Luckily, no critters. Surprisingly no bighorn sheep or deer either, although there were plenty of sheep tracks.
I did cross paths with a White-tailed Ptarmigan on the trail who sat there and clucked nonstop so I assumed she had a baby with her. As I sidestepped the trail to make a wide circle around her, I almost stepped right on the baby she was telling to stay put. Excellent camouflage!
I agree with the AllTrails reviews on this being a spectacular hike. On your right you have the towering Garden Wall, and to your left you have a drop to the valley.
There is an endless stream of traffic on the road as others head up to Logan Pass for their not-so-early start, and you get to watch the sunlight slowly creep down the peaks to the west as the sun slowly rises.
There are several ways to get up to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook – out and back from Logan Pass, out and back from The Loop trailhead, or 14 miles point-to-point from Logan Pass to the Loop trailhead and take a shuttle bus back to the Logan Pass parking lot.
I intended to do the out-and-back from the Logan Pass parking until I saw the horde of hikers coming up the trail as I descended from the spur leading up to the overlook.
Rather than swim upstream against them, I decided to continue down to the Loop for a little more solitude. Extra mileage, but it also means 4,800 feet of descent which is hard on the knees even with poles. The shuttle buses run on a good schedule, and I only had to wait at The Loop for a few minutes before being picked up and driven up the mountain to the Jeep.
If you have the stamina to bang out this kind of mileage then this is an absolute must-do while in Glacier. It’s also an absolute must to get an early start unless you want to be one of the ants marching.
The views over Grinnell Glacier are stunning, even with all of the Canadian wildfire smoke. It’s sad to see how much the glacier has shrunk from global warming, and will probably be completely gone in another 10 years at this pace.
That’s part of our go-see-do mantra before all the cool stuff vanishes.
Highline Trail Google Earth
Grinnell Glacier Overlook 360
A quick zoom around at the Grinnell Glacier Overlook