Close your eyes for a second and picture this with me. Imagine wooden planks lined symmetrically up a small valley. You stop to catch your breath and look behind you for a quick second to notice that mountains surround you. I’m talking about 360 views of peak goodness, and they’re covered in the softest pastels. This exactly what awaits you when you hike Hidden Lake Overlook trail.
And guess what? It only gets better!
In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about this hike and ultimately why it’s the best hike in Glacier NP.
When you’re done, make sure you read my other Glacier posts:
Ultimate 3 Day Glacier National Park Itinerary
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Hidden Lake Overlook Hike Details
Elevation Gain: 540 feet
- Trail Distance: 2.7 miles round trip
- Trail Includes: A boardwalk, an observation deck/ overlook, scenic photo spots, wildlife, mountain views
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Parking Lot: 48.69539, -113.71826
According to the hike description, Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park is considered moderate because the hike gains elevation very quickly. While I believe it to be easy, take your time!
The difficulty of a hike can be a very subjective thing. Please note that there will be no water along the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. You’ll have to pack H2O with you!
Luckily, the Logan Pass Visitor Center is right next door, so you’re going to be able to fill up there. AND there is pretty much no shade in the beginning. Please pack a hat. I have more gear to consider at the end of this blog.
Parking for Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
To get to Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, you’re going to want to drive Going-To-The-Sun Road —read more details about the road on my blog!
You will park at the Logan Pass Visitor Center from the east or west. The trailhead is located right next to the center, and it is easy to find! You also can’t miss the large wooden planks going up the valley.
Pro Tip: While I suggest hiking to Hidden Lake Overlook Trail for sunset, if you’re a morning person, get to Logan Pass EARLY! The Visitor Center parking lot fills up extremely quickly, and you can wait almost 45 minutes before a spot opens up!
ALERT: If you plan on visiting the park in 2022 and want to drive Going-To-The-Sun Road, you will need a Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservation. More on the NPS site.
Alternatives to Parking at Logan Pass
If you don’t want to deal with parking, my next suggestion is to park at The Loop along Going-To-The-Sun Road and take Glacier National Park’s free shuttle system to the pass. Most folks do this when they want to hike to Hidden Lake Overlook Trail and don’t want to deal with parking.
Read Next: What Camera Gear I Use as a Travel Blogger
If you need more information on the Glacier National Park shuttle system, read my complete Glacier National Park guide!
When to Hike the Trail
Sunset, sunset, sunset! While I did not go to Hidden Lake Overlook Trail for sunrise, you MIGHT be able to enjoy the trail then, but I wouldn’t know.
The Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is so easy that hiking it will be a no-brainer for sunset.
I will say that Hidden Lake is a popular destination for mid-day hikers, but I have a couple of problems with this:
- Parking will be a hot @$$ mess
- The light will be harsh and you’re going to have to deal with so many crowds!
BUT. BUT. Not everyone gives two f*cks and just wants to enjoy a hike regardless of what time it is. So if that’s you, just go! Hike the damn trail and save the sunset for somewhere else in the park!
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail — Trail Description
Okay, now we will get into a very detailed description of each section of Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in Glacier National Park. As if your interest wasn’t gleaned already, lmao.
Start: Hidden Lake Overlook Trail Boardwalk
After you have found the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center, it’s time to start moving up the boardwalk! The boardwalk will be a bit steep, but at least you’ll have beautiful views along the way! And honestly, this was one of my favorite parts of the Hidden Lake trail because it was GORGEOUS.
As you climb up, take a second to stop and look behind you. You’ll see the most beautiful views of the valley and Going-To-The-Sun Road.
The majority of Hidden Lake Overlook Trail will be along this boardwalk, making hiking a lot easier!
And put away your trekking poles. I found that they could get stuck in between the wooden planks.
As you get closer to the peaks above, you might notice wildflowers in the meadows! I was shocked there were still some alive this late in the season (September), but happy they were around.
Photo Tip: Make sure you turn around and pose with your back facing the Logan Pass Visitor Center!
Read Next: How to Become an Adventure Photographer
Middle: Hidden Lake Overlook Trail Meadows
The boardwalk will end at the highest point on Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, and it will bring you to a beautiful meadow in Glacier National Park. If you’re lucky, you might even see mountain goats! They love to hang around here.
And PLEASE, if you see any wildlife, do not approach and AVOID feeding it at all costs! Feeding a wild animal can get them accustomed to begging humans for food, meaning they’re more likely to attack a human, which can ultimately lead to their death by park rangers (for safety purposes).
The little dirt path through the meadow will wrap around Clements Mountain. If you take another second to stop, you’ll notice that the view behind you just got that more grand. The best part of Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is coming up!
Photo Tip: If you’re quiet, you might be able to snag a picture of the goats in this area! I suggest having your 70-200 lens ready to go.
Finish: Hidden Lake Overlook Platform
Once you pass through some trees, you’ll come upon a small, wooden overlook area. You can take another pit stop here and take in your first views of Hidden Lake! This is pretty much the official “overlook,” but we’re not done yet ;).
My vote for the best views? Continue walking on the trail! The trees will open up even more, and you’ll have the opportunity to take in the view from some large boulders along the path. This area will also be secluded as the viewing deck can get packed.
And you will be in a DREAM, so enjoy every second of it.
The prominent mountain you see at the base of Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is Bearhat Mountain.
Please note that I stayed on the large boulders on the trail to take my photos — they literally overlap the trail. So please stay off the meadows.
You can choose to take the trail to Hidden Glacier National Park all the way to the shoreline, but I found the views to be the best from above!
On the Way Back from Hidden Lake Overlook
On our way back from shooting sunset, Scott and I decided to stop at the official wooden overlook. It was so damn peaceful! This would be a great place to set up a tripod and capture some blue hour shots if you’re into the idea.
We also used our Photopills app to check when the Milky Way was making an appearance, and it was perfectly centered above Hidden Lake.
In other words, after the sun goes down, you still have endless shooting opportunities during your hike.
Tips for Hiking Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
Let’s finish things up with my hiking Hidden Lake Overlook Trail tips.
Stay on Trail
Please refrain from going through the precious meadows around Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. Trampling on these can destroy vegetation, and it can take hundreds of years to grow back. Also, the large rocks just along the trail do not break leave no trace principles. Reserve your photos for the boulders!
Leave Wildlife Alone
As stated before, feeding wildlife can be highly detrimental to it. Not to mention, you can end up getting hurt and having to leave Glacier National Park! Keep your eyes peeled for a mountain goat. Mountain goats love Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, so you might get lucky and have the chance to photograph one!
Bring a Wide Lens
For the best images, bring a wide lens with you! Scott and I relied on our 16-35mm lens, but an excellent 24-70mm can also work.
Hike Hidden Lake Overlook Trail for Sunset
You can definitely do this hike for sunrise, but the valley glows in the most beautiful colors if you save it for a sunset! You will also have strikingly fewer people on the trail, which means more peace and pictures for you, boo, hayyyyyyyy.
Gear for Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
Please note that all of the gear I am recommending comes from personal experience with the items! If I have never used a piece of equipment, I recommend a piece that my friends swear by (I try to make a note of this).
I want you all to have the best gear available, so I’ll never put something in my blog that I don’t think you’ll personally love :).
Good Hiking Boots
While I think this hike is both short and straightforward enough to complete in sneakers, I kicked the piss out of a couple of rocks going up (clumsy me). For this reason, protect your feet with some functional hiking boots! I love my Keen Targhees.
A Comfy Hiking Pack
I recently traded my old raggedy hiking pack for an Osprey Kyte 36L, and I LOVE it. My favorite part about it is that it’s spacious enough to hold all of my camera gear without making me feel like I have a monkey driving its knuckles in my back.
Layers and More Layers
As we climbed up the boardwalk, I started getting extra hot and took off my fleece, but you better bet yo ass that I layered up as the sun was setting! Can’t go wrong with the fleece I linked, let me tell ya.
Bear spray is a MUST on Hidden Lake Overlook Trail! As with all hikes in Glacier National Park, you need to be bear aware during your visit. For more bear safety tips, check out the National Park Service website.
A Reusable Water Bottle
Let’s go plastic-free, folks. As I said before, there is little to no shade on Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, so you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated! I recommend bringing a Hydroflask for your hike!
A Wide Brim Hat
When the sun blasts on me, I rely on a hat to keep me shaded. My Brixton hat has been my favorite for the past year. It’s also crushable, which means that when you pack it away, it will bounce right back to its original form.
You KNOW I love me some tasty snacks. I’ve been relying on GoMacro bars for the last couple of years while I’m out on the trail. PROBARs are a great option too!
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail — My Final Thoughts
I hope this blog showed you the beauty waiting for you when you hike Hidden Lake Overlook trail! Remember to read my other Glacier posts so you can have an amazing trip:
We are headed to Glacier 9/23 hoping the GTTSR will be open. Due to mobility issues, I cannot hike for more than a mile or so. I have a fused ankle and damaged knees. Are there any mountain views on the first half mile of the Hidden Lake trail. I enjoy photography, so just want to know if it’s worth the time and effort.