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Monday, August 09, 2021

Review: Day Hiking Glacier National Park and Western Montana

 I thought about buying a map for my visit to Glacier National Park, but the problem with modern trail hiking maps is that they don't actually provide any opinions as to which routes are more scenic. For that, I usually turn to guidebooks, and the cheap guy in me borrowed Day Hiking Glacier National Park from the library. It turned out to be a great find.

The book makes some odd choices. For instance, a 1 mile hike (Ross Creek Scenic Area) is included, but the popular Two Medicine Loop is not. That's OK. To a large extent, no guidebook can be comprehensive, and I would much rather that the author tell you about hikes that nobody else is going to tell you about than repeat ad nauseum things you already know.

I love the book's organization.  Up front, there's a chart with a list of the hikes tabulated by scenic beauty (author's opinion), difficulty (also author's opinions) distance, kid-friendliness, dog-friendliness, wildflowers, berries, waterfalls, cycling, etc. It's all separated nicely by geography (so you could guess at the driving times to the trailhead), and there's a handy map so you could see where everything was.

We did several hikes in the book: Diamond Lakes, Ross Creek, Geiger Lakes, Hidden Lake Overlook, Jewel Lakes Basin (which turned into Mt Aeneas), and Avalanche Lake. 2 of them was well known, but the others were obscure but very pretty in their own way. All but the well-known hikes involved a lot of dirt driving to get to the trailhead, so it's best if you have an SUV.

The book does provide recommended seasons, but the Jewel Lakes Basin Loop hike had an incorrect map and obscure directions that turned out to be untenable anyway because the lakes we wanted to get to were frozen over! You can't really blame the author for that, and the frozen-ness made it really pretty.

Given that Glacier National Park  now demands ticketed entry which can be hard to get, I think this book is an essential companion to any summer visit to the region. I met a few others who used the book on my trip, and we all agreed that it's a great book.


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