Attempt number two at Highline Trail followed the same basic plan as the first, but with vastly improved results. It was an excellent day for the hike, low fog in the morning rising up and leaving a nice afternoon. Highline is a 12mi one-way hike (I guess you could hike out and back). It has some awesome views, particularly on the first half and with the morning fog lifting. I think I would give the first 1/2 of Highline Trail the award for most beautiful trail I have hiked.
We opted to do the offshoot, adding an additional 0.6mi uphill climb at about the half-way point to the Grinnel Glacier overlook. The climb was more arduous than the 0.6mi would indicate. It’s a moderately steep, straight line, exposed trail. We got to the top and had a snack overlooking Grinnell Glacier.
The peak of the trail is at Granite Park Chalet. The chalet itself is two buildings with maybe 8-12 rooms. Even if you’re not staying there though, there are toilets as well as a limited selection of snacks and water available if needed. We sat down on the porch to rest for a while.
The descent was more wooded as opposed to the rockier terrain of the climb. We passed through a couple huckleberry and thimbleberry patches. There weren’t as many spectacular views, probably in part due it being later in the day and all the clouds having lifted. We did find one swath of grass and bushes pushed aside like something big had come through the area recently, so it’s possible there were bears in the general area.
Being one-way, there is a need for a shuttle at the end and there was a line waiting for it. Come to find out, the shuttles are often pretty full by that point and they only save two seats on each one to make sure that some people can get on at the next stop. After the first shuttle passed, the driver realized the issue (there were maybe 30 people total waiting) and radioed back for a few more shuttle busses to be sent. They arrived pretty quickly considering the distance from anything resembling a base, and we got back to Logan Pass with enough time to tack on Hidden Lake trail as well, which was about a 3-mile round trip. The very end of Hidden Lake trail was closed due to bear activity, so we were only able to go as far as the overlook.
We made turkey/tomato/egg/spinach (yes, it’s kind of hodge-podge, but it works) sandwiches in the parking lot to use up the turkey. It was about a two hour drive to Many Glacier (including the stop for sunset pictures), but on arrival we discovered that the campground there was full and/or closed to tents due to bear presence.
We didn’t really have a further plan for the night, but the Many Glacier Area also had a small village of cabins, so we got one of those (Cabin D8) which also included showers, so that was nice. Equally important to having a place to stay was not having to drive back down the last 5-7 miles of road that we traveled to get there as it was horrible, maybe worse than the road outside of Elbert.