Avalanche Lake Spring 2016 Bike and Hike

It was a beautiful spring day and we decided to grab out bikes and backpacks and head up to Glacier National Park. I wanted to get a picture of Avalanche Lake on a bluebird day, so we made that our destination. Currently, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed at Lake McDonald Lodge, so we needed to ride our bikes the six miles to the trailhead, then hike up to the lake. It was perfect.

It’s amazing how many people take advantage of the Going-to-the-Sun Road clear of traffic to ride and walk along it in the spring. If you’ve not done it and you are around before they open the road, it’s definitely a must.

With no clouds in the sky, McDonald Creek was beautiful as were the snow-capped mountains. We left our bikes at the trailhead for Avalanche Lake with our helmets, then took off into the dark undergrowth of the cedar and hemlock forest. The first stop was the amazing gorge as Avalanche Creek makes its last plummet to the valley floor in a frothing madness. From there we climbed up through the coolness of the trees on a basically dry trail.

As we got higher, the pocket views looking out were great and a few goats were spied on the cliffs. As we got closer to the lake, small sections of snow greeted us across the trail, but far less than normal which was great for hiking.

Once at the lake, it was incredible. Perfect weather, no clouds and the waterfalls and snow gracing the rugged mountains. The lake was a jewel blue with a few Barrow’s Goldeneyes flying and swimming on its surface. Mountain goats lounged and grazed on the stepped hillside to our left. Unlike most experiences during the summer, we had the place all to ourselves for large spells with a few visitors showing up here and there.

Black Bear on GTTSRAfter a bit of hanging out, we headed back down. Another highlight was coming across a black bear crossing the road as we pedaled back to the car. All in all, an amazing, spring day.

Note that, while snowpack in lower elevations is pretty low, it is pretty close to average at higher elevations, so the Going-to-the-Sun Road will most likely open some time in June, but not earlier than normal.

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14 Responses to Avalanche Lake Spring 2016 Bike and Hike

  1. Mike April 22, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    This looks amazing….Visited last year. Such an amazing place. Will be back soon. Your map helped out a ton!.

    • hike734 April 22, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      Excellent! Can one get enough of Glacier? Nope!

      • David K. April 24, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

        I purchased your maps and materials and they are fantastic!!! An amazing wealth of information!!!

        I have two questions to ask you if you don’t mind.

        Is there a lake that you would suggest that is without restrictions that we can use an air filled/blow up boat on?
        What lake is the easy to catch a trout on? Something right on the road that we could cast from shore. I would love to say that my twelve year old daughter and I caught a fish in Glacier National Park!

        Thank you for your time and knowledge!!!

        • hike734 April 25, 2016 at 7:00 am #

          I believe that you can put a boat on any of the lakes that you can drive up to and all of them have trout. You may need to make sure that you check to see if you need to have it inspected for invasive species, but not sure if that applies to little inflatables. You also don’t need a fishing license when fishing in the park, but make sure you know what kind of fish you are catching if you plan on keeping it. If not, make sure you can easily release it!

  2. Mary Ellen April 22, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    This is the best resource for people wanting to visit Glacier, YNP and Zion that I have ever seen! You have done an amazing job with this.

    I am a Destination Expert on Trip Advisor and will be telling a lot of visitors about your blog and maps. I am a map freak and can never get enough of good print maps. Thanks so much.

    • hike734 April 22, 2016 at 10:09 am #

      Thanks! I’m still fleshing out Yellowstone, but we’re getting there. Thanks for passing along the word!

  3. Mike April 22, 2016 at 10:49 am #

    Have you been up north to Jasper and Banff? I kind of wish i would have done that instead of heading south to Yellowstone. Next time I’ll go Glacier – Banff – Jasper.

    • hike734 April 22, 2016 at 11:17 am #

      I have and they are spectacular! Of course, I can’t tell you a whole lot about them as it’s been so long and I went early spring or was doing a ski trip. They have more of the “cathedral” feel like Glacier, only bigger. Yellowstone is awesome for the vastness, amazing mega-fauna, and freaky hydrothermal features.

  4. Nancy Chalmers April 22, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    I volunteer in the park, and have been biking the road frequently (and I was there on Wednesday). I’ve told several people their dogs are not allowed on the road past the Lodge, and they always give me that “look”. There are signs on the gate across the road, which they probably ignore. I tell them there have been moose and bears on the road but I don’t think they believe me. Your video is exactly why pets are not allowed on trails, and when the GTTS road is closed, it is considered a trail. Great video…..as always. Keep them coming.

    • hike734 April 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

      Gaaaaa!!! I saw someone with a dog on the road too and do get frustrated with people just ignoring those signs. I work with a group that manages a birding area and I’ve had that futile conversation as well. If you ever find a great way to communicate that, please let me know! I’m not sure if you saw, but someone that works at Sportsman Ski Haus saw a Lynx this week in the middle of the day on GTTSR!

  5. Denise Page April 23, 2016 at 6:03 am #

    Sweet day! Thanks, Jake.

  6. Larry Augsbach May 10, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    WOW, thanks for posting this! I have all of your maps & guides and I will be visiting GNP in early June while my wife takes a workshop in Whitefish. I have added this bike/hike to my planned adventures! Note to self: pick up bear spray in Whitefish before starting out.

    • hike734 May 10, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      The Glacier Conservancy also has paid for a bike rack that is pulled via the buses so that you can park at either Lake McDonald or the Apgar Transit Center and load up your bikes! (Also, you can rent your bear spray at Glacier Outfitters in Apgar)

      • Larry Augsbach May 10, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

        Thank you very much Jake…

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