Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake – Glacier National Park
Two trails in one! And both are easy and scenic making this combination one of the most popular trails in the park. The Trail of the Cedars is just that – a one mile trail through the cedar trees. Most of this is boardwalk and is a very popular trail because of the flat and maintained. The Avalanche Trail is an addition 5 miles that is accessed about halfway through the Trail of the Cedars and ends at beautiful Avalanche Lake. Together it is a 6 mile loop / there and back.
We arrived at the parking lot the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake just before 9AM and it was bopping – cars took up every spots we passed, the lot by the trailhead already had a full sign outside, and there were far too make people circling for spots than there we people leaving. At this point in time, it certainly did not feel like the reservation system capped capacity and it was still early in the day! After a lap of the parking options, we turned around and decided to try parking in the lot identified as full and while the traditional spots were indeed all full, there seemed to be some turnout spots that could take on a few cars.
Even though it was not obvious, we parked in one area and gave it a few minutes to make sure it was permitted. Before we knew it, all the spots were taken by other cars – so the odds of us all getting towed were much lower. So interesting observation here just minutes into the park – the full parking signs seem to be always posted which means 1) parking at Glacier National Park must be intense and 2) the signs may not always reflect the actual status. With parking secured, it was time to start our first trail in Glacier National Park!
We started the trail full of joy – our first trail in Glacier National Park! The beginning through the trees of the Trail of the Cedars was very easy. We took the opportunity to gain some speed.
It was shortly thereafter we spotted the trail sign of the Avalanche Lake Trail and began a gentle uphill along side a short river. The way the water cut the rock it reminded us of Watkins Glen. At some points, the trees would give way to the looming mountains around us.
The walk was very enjoyable and just as easy as described – a great way to start out our hiking journey in Glacier National Park. Before we knew it, we made it to Avalanche Lake and it was glistening in the sun.
We spent time testing out our new camera and enjoying the views. There is a walkway that takes visitors around to the opposite side of the lake. We walked around about half way and quickly noticed the chipmunks here are way to friendly – they literally get right up to you. Please do not feed the animals! Anyway, enjoy all these lovely views of Avalanche Lake.
The way back was even easily because instead of a gradual incline, it was a gradual decline. One story I have to document for my memory – there was a family with a young boy, maybe five, who was hiding behind a tree to “scare” his parents. Since we were passing by, I joked and said “oh I thought you were a bear!”. As we passed them, the son goes “Dad, did I scare the … shit out of you???” and proceeded to burst out laughing.
While it was crowded when we started the trail, it was very crowded as we made our way back to the Trail of the Cedars Trail. We completed the rest of the loop before heading back to the car. We completed the 6 miles in under three hours with plenty of time stopped at the lake and taking photos.
What a lovely trail! It honestly did not feel like a five mile there and back because it really was an easy and relaxing walk. This is good for all ages so it makes for a great family trail. This also makes it very popular and crowded so be mindful of the parking situation you may encounter.