Scenic USA - Montana

Avalanche Gorge

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Avalanche Gorge - Glacier National Park, Montana

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Avalanche Lake photo by Tom Blanchard

     Glacier National Park, covering more than a million acres near the Canadian border, is mainly accessed by the Going-To-The-Sun Road Trail of the Cedars - Glacier National Parkand a half dozen shorter perimeter roads. After crossing the park over the Sun Road by car, you may consider further exploration over some of the park's 700 miles of trails. There are many outstanding opportunities for both short hikes and extended backcountry trips, and the Trail of the Cedars is one of the most popular. Avalanche Creek - Glacier National Park Because the Trail of the Cedars is an easy handicap accessible trail, this means everyone can enjoy the gorge. This loop hike begins and ends on the Going-To-The-Sun Road and covers about a mile.
     Progressing through a forest of ancient trees, the nearly level pathway follows Avalanche Creek. A mixed trail of gravel, raised boardwalk and paths carpeted with evergreen needles, ensure this shady walk can be enjoyed throughout the summer. A wonderland of old growth, the forest is mainly red cedar, hemlock, larch and black cottonwood, with some 500 year old cedars rising over 80 feet. More commonly found in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest, this land of the giants has escaped fire and floods for hundreds of years. Avalanche Lake - Glacier National Park
     Near the end of the loop trail, visitors are rewarded with this view of Avalanche Gorge. Here Avalanche Creek is funneled through a narrow gorge, where ferns and mosses decorated the ravine walls. Like a lush tropical setting, this is the payoff for a half hour walk. For those a little more ambition, a trail climbs along the gorge and heads toward Avalanche Lake. The initial climb is the steepest part of the trail, and continues about two miles to the lake. The Avalanche Lake hike is another popular trail in the area, and parking on the Sun Road requires a little patience at times.

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