Lake McDonald Trail
ElevationAscent: 767' 234 m
Descent: -834' -254 m
High: 3,306' 1,008 m
Low: 3,159' 963 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 20% (11°)
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“Older stands of trees bookend a primarily burn forest trail along the west shore of Lake McDonald.”— Jake Bramante
The trail starts out in an older, wet forest. The trail must have created a fire break as you quickly run out into burn where much of the damage is located on the west side of the trail with the older stand of trees between the trail and the lake. Eventually, the unburned trees give way to the burn area, although the new lodgepole pines are making a comeback.
For the next few miles, the trail parallels the shore of the lake giving you filtered views of the lake and the wooded ridge on the other side. You can get to the shores at the campground halfway down the lake on a nice sandy beach with great views.
The trail continues on with more of the same until you get near Rocky Point. From here, you gain a little bit of elevation and enter some trees. The elevation enables you to have some cool views down onto the lake. Take the Rocky Point Trail out and around for better views as this trail cuts along the back of the point, once again acting as a fire barrier years ago. The main trail then enters the older forest and crosses on a nice bridge over Fish Creek, then climbs up to and across the Inside North Fork Road. The trail parallels the road closely for a bit, then stays straight while the road goes to the campground, only to join up alongside it later.
It continues along the road, crossing it and entering the trees on an old road and through old inholdings to the end of Grist Road and the end of the trail.
This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to run.
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Land Manager: NPS - Glacier National Park