A couple of weeks ago we went to visit Glacier National Park in Montana and it was really spectacular. The day we were heading out to Many Glaciers on the east side of the park, we stopped by this bakery in East Glacier for a bite to eat. if you’re in that area it’s worth a visit. They had a hiking bar that was so good it inspired me to make my own. They also had some braided pastry with spinach and sun dried tomatoes that was absolutely delicious.
We drove along the Going-to-the-Sun Road where you will find many trail heads to stop and explore. It’s an absolutely beautiful ride. I thought it might be a little scary driving the road since it’s narrow with huge drop offs on the side of the mountain, but most of the way they have barriers, and where there isn’t (gasp) just look at the road or the scenery. I have some fear of heights but luckily it didn’t freak me out.
Many Glacier Swiftcurrent Lake. This is definitely a destination and it's worth planning to spend some time here since it’s far away from other areas in the park, and you’re almost in Canada!
Saint Mary Lake. I didn’t know until after we were back, but this is where the opening scene of The Shining is filmed, and that scene ends with the Timberline lodge at Mount Hood here in Oregon.
Trail to Virginia Falls and Saint Mary Falls, the forest burned due to a fire in 2015, and it wasn’t what I was expecting, the trail description was “Soon the trail enters the canopy of a dense conifer forest…” I hadn’t realized how much of the park burns every year, almost always due to lightning. But it was quite striking and beautiful with the black trees and colorful new growth.
Avalanche Lake. This is a beautiful hike with creeks along the way through the forest, it starts at Trail of the Cedars and brings you to Avalanche Lake where you can take a rest and enjoy the views. The trail is considered moderate, it’s about 2 miles climbing up but it’s not too steep and fun on the way back down. There were bears spotted not too far from where we were, and while it was tempting to go further and see them, we took the advice of going in the opposite direction of where the bears are.
Hidden Lake Nature Trail from Logan Pass. It was our last day in the park and we had to be back in Whitefish early evening to get something to eat before catching the train back to Portland. When we arrived at Logan Pass parking lot it was packed, apparently you have to get there around 8am for easy parking, otherwise, like us, you will be circling that lot forever. But Jeff chatted with a ranger and he said we could park 3 miles east down the road and catch the shuttle back. So that’s what we did. We were lucky to find a parking spot on the side of the road near the shuttle stop. And so we waited, and waited, and waited (The shuttle coming from the east side can take up to a 1 hour wait, but on the west side it’s more like 20-30 minutes.) Time was ticking and we were wondering if we would have any kind of time for this hike, because you have to factor in getting back again. A couple days prior a ranger had told us if you’re ever in need of a ride in the park just hitchhike. So we joked about doing it and a woman there said she would do it if she didn’t have her kids with her. So we stuck our thumbs out on Going-to-the-Sun Road, many cars passed, but one stopped. It was this sweet older couple from Missouri that have been traveling all over the west including Alaska. We offered them money but they wouldn’t take it, at one point she mentioned Rice Krispies treats that were in the back seat! They were very cute and very nice people. We get to the trail head and discovered it’s a boardwalk almost the entire length until you reach Hidden Lake Overlook. I would say this was our least favorite trail. It was like climbing up stairs for 2 miles. You would think it would make it easier but I much prefer a natural path. I had read that this is THE place to see mountain goats, but we didn’t see any at all, I think you have to go early in the morning or early evening to see wildlife.
In addition to the trails there is much to see just along side of the road, we were there for 5 days and I feel like I would have wanted at least 10 days to explore. When you go to the park I definitely recommend bringing some food and leaving it in the car, or if you carry it with you it should be sealed up so that hungry bears don’t start following you. Lake McDonald Lodge has a restaurant but it’s not always open, and when it is open it's packed. I got most info on hikes at Hiking in Glacier, and it’s always good to check in on Glacier National Park’s website for any closures or delays. You can view the parks webcams here which is pretty cool.
Below is a recipe for the hiking bars, you can make all different kinds but the basics are always the same with dried fruit, nuts, a syrup, a nut butter and oats. I didn’t want to have to buy 10 bags of different nuts and dried fruit, so I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a back of mixed nuts and a bag of dried fruit (dried cherry, strawberry and blueberry is good!) They have a great selection there.
Montana Hiking Bar
- 1 cup dried fruit
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup roasted salted nuts
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats or quick cooking steel cut oats
- 7 oz dark chocolate
- optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.
Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and toast the oats for 15 minutes in 350°F oven, then allow to cool.
Place oats, dried fruit and nuts in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and stir until combined.
Line a 8”x8” baking pan with parchment paper, then spread the mixture in the pan, pressing down firmly until flattened. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, then pour it evenly over the mixture, shake the pan to even out the chocolate.
Cover the pan and refrigerate 20-30 minutes until firm. Remove bars from pan and cut into 9 squares. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. Store in freezer for longer duration.