Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,850.00 ft (563.88 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
7.20 mi (11.59 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

For many visitors, Lake McDonald is their first big view of Glacier National Park. Plan a hike up to the Apgar Lookout just inside the park’s main west entrance to catch one amazing view of Lake McDonald and the surrounding mountains.

From the trailhead, walk along a wide dirt path through a recovering burn area. The 2003 fire season was particularly devastating in Glacier National Park, with the Roberts fire alone burning over 57,000 acres. It soon becomes evident that not everything burned down. Some of the larches in this area still stand tall, thanks to their thick bark.

The trail winds near Rubideau Creek before beginning long switchbacks up the southwestern slope of Apgar Mountain. As you climb higher, the Middle Fork of the Flathead River comes into view. Higher still and you can see over Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls to the mountains beyond.
 
The lookout is just southeast from the true peak of Apgar Mountain. From its deck you have a unique view of Lake McDonald, Howe Ridge, Stanton Mountain, Mount Vaught, Mount Cannon, and Mount Brown (which boasts its own lookout). Walk to the south-facing deck and catch sight of numerous mountain peaks in Glacier’s remote southern region. Mount Saint Nicholas (9,376 feet) is perhaps the most prominent peak in this view, with the trademark slopes of a glacial horn.

The Apgar Lookout is the site of two of Glacier’s webcams. One faces northeast while the other faces southeast. These webcams are great for tracking weather conditions on the west side of the park. Find them on a tower right by the lookout. These webcams also occasionally catch animal visitors like deer and moose!
 

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Excellent views of Lake McDonald and Flathead Valley.

Cons

Can be hard for hikers to yield to horse traffic on switchbacks.

Trailhead Elevation

3,340.00 ft (1,018.03 m)

Highest point

5,190.00 ft (1,581.91 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Big vistas
Horseback riding
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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