I’m sure you are familiar (maybe not seen, but familiar with) Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Revenant.” If anything, you know that he is attacked by a bear like 4 times. Anyway, we stumbled upon the waterfall that is in that movie, Kootenai Falls. The waterfall itself is pretty cool, wide, lots of water, very blue. What was really cool was that even for such a large powerful waterfall, there were swimming pools right in the middle. We unfortunately did not know this before we engaged in this little hike, so we didn’t swim, but we would still recommend it to others (there were people swimming while we were there…we were jealous).
Another awesome thing about this stop is that on the same hike (a slight detour but same hike) is a swinging bridge. It swung so much that it was actually pretty eerie, and awesome!
We also went to the Ross Creek Cedars which were nearby. If we were just visiting these, they would have been pretty cool, but we are on our way to the coast where we will see much greener, much bigger, just generally more massive and similar trees, so this was a little disappointing.
Not only did we have my family meet up with us in Glacier, but Bade’s parents arrived at the end of the week with my family. Their arrival gave us the opportunity to drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road in its entirety, and hit up a few of the overlooks and view points that we had missed. Here are a few of those Going-To-The-Sun Road extras.
The majority of our time in Glacier was spent on the East side of Glacier National Park, from Logan Pass to St. Mary, and into the Many Glacier area.
From Logan Pass, there are 2 awesome hikes everyone should do, Hidden Lake Overlook and Highline Trail.
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike
The Hidden Lake Overlook trail is largely boardwalk. It takes you up past a few small glacial waterfalls, skirting along some snow banks, and through flower filled fields. When we arrived at the overlook there was a family of mountain goats grazing and playing in the fields.
This second hike was one that we were not able to complete due to the steep downhill at the end and my currently recovering knees. So we only went along the beginning part of the trail, which hugs the side of a rock cliff. The Highline trail is so popular because it gives you views of the waterfalls and canyon that are so well known in Glacier. You hike through more flower covered fields. You also can spot a few glaciers including Grinnell Glacier which I’ll talk about next.
…and another mountain goat on this trail.
Grinnell Glacier Hike
This hike is also super popular but it is in the Many Glacier area on the East side of Glacier National Park instead of on the Going-To-The-Sun road, so even though it is popular, it wasn’t overly crowded. This hike starts by hiking along the banks of 2 lakes, then makes a drastic course change and heads up, and up, and up the side of the mountain.
We reached the Grinnell Lake view and most the group turned around. We didn’t want to hike all the way for various reasons, the heat and exposed trail, the steepness and distance of the hike (almost 12 miles total), bad knees, only being 3 1/2 years old, and so on. Dad, Jason and Emily continued onto the top.
They said it was so worth it and I am so jealous. Their photos look awesome. There was even a waterfall that you had to hike through along the trail that they said was extra refreshing after ascending so much during the heat of the day.
St Mary’s Lake at Rising Sun
Here’s my last little “in the future” note. There are many areas in the park that offer boat tours. On the Grinnell Glacier hike, you could take a boat across both lakes that we hiked around. On the West side of Glacier National Park you can take a boat around McDonald Lake (the upper end). But if you choose to do a boat tour in Glacier, I would recommend a boat tour of St. Mary’s from the Rising Sun area. Bade, Seth and I spent some time around all of those lakes mentioned above and this boat tour seemed to have the best views.
After weeks of anticipation, we finally made it to Glacier National Park. We setup camp in Apgar Campground right on the edge of Lake McDonald. This area is so picturesque, and so relaxing. You could bring your paddle boards, kayaks, tubes, beach chairs, or other water toys to Lake McDonald to play and hangout. We, of course, brought none of that, so we choose to skip rocks while we enjoyed the peace.
Glacier is divided right through the middle via the Going-To-The-Sun Road. The Going-To-The-Sun Road is then divided into a West side and an East side from Logan Pass. Apgar Campground is at the West Glacier entrance to the park, on the West Side of the Going-To-The-Sun Road. This side of the park is a little more spread-out as far as touristy features go, but there are 2 hikes I would recommend doing.
John’s Lake Loop & McDonald Falls
John’s Lake Loop is the better way to get to McDonald Falls. The less good way to get to those falls is pulling off to the side of the road and hiking down a hill. The John’s Lake Loop way is by taking a less traveled, walk-in-the-woods hike past John’s Lake, then reaching McDonald Falls, and returning by an even better walk-in-the-woods hike along the side of a turquoise river.
Avalanche Lake & Trail Of The Cedars
I love when you get these 2-for’s. John’s Lake with McDonald Falls first, now Avalanche Lake and Trail of the Cedars.
Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail is almost entirely boardwalk. One half is largely cedar trees surrounded by more cedar trees. The other half gives you views of cedar trees along side turquoise water, and even a fantastic view of Seth’s favorite waterfall on this hike (I’ll show you this later). You must take at least part of this trail in order to get to the Avalanche Lake hike, so I would recommend taking one side of this trail out and the other side when you return from Avalanche Lake.
Avalanche Lake is a big-ish (for a mountain lake) shallow lake at the base of some long waterfalls. Bade thought the coolest part was that these waterfalls seem to come from the mountain top…so where are they collecting all their water??
My favorite part was the deer that came by and licked one of the backpacks we had sitting behind us.
Seth’s favorite part was right at the beginning of the Avalanche Lake trail, just after turning off the Trail of the Cedars. This loud and captivating blue waterfall rushing down a purple rock canyon on the side of the hike.
As always, pictures don’t do it justice; I guess you’ll just have to come to the West side of Glacier National Park and hike the Avalanche Lake hike for yourself.
The Grand Tetons are such impressive mountains but neither Bade nor myself are a big enough hiker to tackle the Teton Crest Trail. Instead we take on the short hikes with those majestic Tetons in the background. Seth had yet to be on a boat so we had to take the boat to Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake. If time and legs permit, take the boat over to Inspiration Point and hike back around the lake. The hike around the lake has great views the entire time and you’ll often get the chance to see a black bear.
Hiking Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake
Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake is a 7200 ft high point overlooking the lake. The hike to the top is only a mile, but decently steep in parts. The hike is broken up by nice views of waterfalls and wooden bridges spanning the river. The best of these falls is Hidden Falls, which is always better than I remember and right along the trail to Inspiration Point.
Bade was surprised how sheer the cliffs are on the side of the trail as you near the top. The trail widens quite a bit (the rangers have made some major improvements on this trail since the last time Bade or I hiked it) so the cliffs shouldn’t be a worry, even if you are afraid of heights.
If you have the opportunity to hike back around Jenny Lake, going around the Southern way is 2.5 miles and 5 miles if you go around the North end of the lake. The boat shuttle for the lake is $9 one-way or $15 for both trips and it takes just about 10 minutes.
Just minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki is the Manoa Valley with the Manoa Falls hike. This hike will make you feel like you are walking through Jurassic Park, and best of all, the whole hike is shaded from beginning to end so you can enjoy this hike whenever is convenient during the day. The Manoa Falls hike is only 1.5 miles round trip, starts in tall Eucalyptus tree forests and evolves into a tropical rainforest with a waterfall. You will see giant ferns, bamboo groves, wild ginger and even guava trees. Hikers of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy this hike, even pets.
Manoa Falls Hike Trailhead
The trailhead for the Manoa Falls hike starts at the top of Manoa Road just outside of Waikiki. The last stretch of road is in a residential area, and you can park for free in this area, however it is narrow, with limited parking, and you will extend your hike by a half a mile. It is $5 to park at the trailhead in the Paradise Park parking lot, and in my opinion, totally worth it.
You’ll start your hike on pavement, then transition to a pebble path, and finally reach the bulk of the hike which is in slippery pseudo-mud, which is more or less muddy depending on how recently it rained. Yes your shoes will get muddy regardless of rain, but there are shoe cleaning spigots near the parking lot to clean your shoes after the hike.
Even though this trail is short, it is very diverse. You’ll pass lush fields with towering trees where some movies and TV shows were shot; go through guava tree groves as well as climb hill-sides alongside a stream.
The 150-ft waterfall is beautiful to look at, but you can’t touch. Unfortunately no swimming in the base of Manoa Falls due to falling rocks.
Another great hike near Waikiki is the Koko Head Crater hike which is perfect for catching the sunrise as it is one of the first places on Oahu to feel the sun’s rays in the morning.
Bridal Veil Falls is just off highway 189 in Provo Canyon, and can be seen year round. The waterfall itself is a 607 foot double cataract waterfall (cataract waterfall, meaning lots of water cascading over a precipice). Visitors can walk across a bridge from the parking lot to access the bottom of the falls and fish pond. There is a short hike that will take you to the base of the longest free-fall portion of the waterfall.
Getting To Bridal Veil Falls
From Orem or Provo UT, follow highway 189 into Provo Canyon towards Heber. You will only need to go approximately 4.2 miles up Provo Canyon and you will see the Bridal Veil exit on your right. Immediately off the exit there are three directions you can take.
Right – a picnic area. On your right is the parking lot for Bridal Veil Park, a picnic area that requires a little more walking to get to the falls.
Left – camp sites. On your left is the short road to Nunn’s Park which provides Provo Canyon visitors a place to camp (one of the few camping specific areas in the canyon).
Straight – the waterfall. If you continue straight you can go up the road a little further to find a parking lot just for Bridal Veil Falls.
What To Bring
Once you are at the falls, you can take as much time as you want playing in the water, feeding the fish, hiking, having a picnic, and playing at the park. Although in the summer there are vendors selling food and drinks, you’ll likely want to bring your own water and snacks. Also make sure what you are wearing can get wet. Either playing in the waterfall water at the base, or getting misted by the waterfall at the top of the hike, you’ll likely get a little wet around this beautiful waterfall.
Snacks or a picnic
Quarters to buy fish food
A Frisbee or other activity to play in the shade of the park
Clothes and shoes that can get wet
A Bit Of History
Years ago there was a tram located near the trailhead, on the West side of the bike path that took people up to a restaurant located on the cliffs above the falls on the right side. There are still concrete remnants of where the tram began. Avalanches destroyed the tram and it has since been out of operation since 1996. A fire burned down most of the restaurant and many surrounding trees in 2008.