Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
60.00 ft (18.29 m)
Trail type
1.00 mi (1.61 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.

Trail of the Cedars is an easy loop in the Lake McDonald valley. It is stroller and wheelchair friendly. As long as the road to the trail is open, the trail is a very beautiful family-friendly walk, be it in summer, when the tall trees provide a lot of shade, or autumn/early winter just before the road closes, when you might encounter dusting of snow on the ground.

Trail of the Cedars is a popular hike. Arrive either very early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Parking can get very stressful, and you might have to give it a couple of tries before you find a spot. The best time to come to the trail is on a rainy day; the crowds are smaller, and the rain intensifies the beautiful fragrance of the forest.

The path is easy to follow. You'll start the loop on a wooden pathway, walking a couple feet above the forest floor. Be careful; when the wooden path is wet, it gets quite slippery. You'll encounter a couple of informational signs on your way, some with poetry, some with information about the forest. Take your time to stroll between the tall trees, and soon you'll see a bridge crossing Avalanche Creek.

The creek offers a spectacular show as it falls down in a series of short cascades and rushes through the narrow basin filled with large rocks, creating a waterfall that marks the halfway point of the loop.

After you've enjoyed the waterfall, continue on your way. The wooden path gives way to a smooth, wide, brown-orange gravel one, and after walking about 0.1 mile, you'll find a bathroom with flushable toilets.

Continue on the path that follows the river. There are a couple access points to the water. If you choose to go near the river, be very careful, especially if you have kids with you. The current gets strong after rains or when the snowmelt comes down from the surrounding mountains.

Soon after walking through low-hanging, thick branches, you'll get back on the wooden path and will have soon completed the loop.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round


Open from

May 01 to October 31


Shade. Easy access. Accessible.


Gets very busy. Crowded. Parking gets tough.

Trailhead Elevation

3,406.00 ft (1,038.15 m)

Highest point

3,459.00 ft (1,054.30 m)


ADA accessible
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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