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Hike to a Summit for the Rest of Us!

Hike to a Summit for the Rest of Us!

Have you ever wanted to hike to a summit, but mountain climbing is way beyond your hiking style? Huckleberry Lookout Trail in Glacier National Park may be just the hike.  Gorgeous scenery, at 13 miles round trip (out & back) it’s long, but not strenuous.  A gradual climb on a scenic trail to a Fire Tower with a sweeping view of the surrounding mountains and landscape.

Hike to a summit
Trailhead, Huckleberry Lookout
We did it to see the best view from an outhouse - EVER! But watch out for grizzlies.
We did the hike to see the best view from an outhouse – EVER! And to say I summited a mountain!

One of our hiking friends had a torn meniscus and was scheduled for surgery the week after Huckleberry Lookout hike.  Normally our friends plan a “killer” hike every time we visit.  This time, with the limitations, the hike was amazing, but not “killer” (thank goodness!).

The trail begins winding though open forest and hills.
The trail begins winding though open forest and hills.

We did it during September, bears’ hyperphagia stage – i.e. gorging themselves in preparation for winter hibernation.  According to Backpacker Magazine, Glacier National Park has the densest population of grizzlies anywhere in the Lower 48 and in the fall, they’re hungry for huckleberries. (Note:  from here on out, the type styles get really weird, but I cannot figure out why, so I apologize….)

Vistas abound.
In the article, America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes, the magazine comments:  “Come summer and fall, aptly named Huckleberry Mountain becomes a magnet for hungry grizzlies, which are commonly found foraging the plump, purple fruit that ripens along the Apgar/Huckleberry Lookout Trail. “Large numbers of bears congregate there when there’s a bumper crop,” says supervisory ranger Gary Moses. In high huckleberry season, rangers often close the trail to dayhiking.”
Bear scat was frequent along the trail - obviously they'd preceded us. But they didn't take all the huckleberries!
Bear scat was frequent along the trail – obviously they’d preceded us.
That might explain the still steaming bear scat scattered at scant intervals along the trail.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea, but most of the trail was open gently ascending the side of Huckleberry Mountain, we could see in all directions.  We made plenty of noise to make sure any bears in the area weren’t surprised by our presence and carried Bear Spray.  We weren’t the only people on the trail so there was some relief in spotting others along the way.
Group shot, just before the "final ascent".
Group shot, just before the “final ascent”.

But I still found it unsettling to be calling “Hey Bear” every time we came to a blind turn in the trail and constantly scanning the countryside for grizzlies.  Luckily, other than bear scat and obvious foraging along the huckleberry bushes lining the trail, we saw no bears.

Our first view from the trail of the Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout ... our destination.
Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout … see the tiny dot on the top.
After ascending to the summit, enjoying lunch and the views at the fire tower, we started back down the trail.  But this time, my friends were more interested in gathering huckleberries since we hadn’t seen any bears, scaring the SCAT out of me!  I kept watch as the other three filled bag after bag of what I considered “bear bait” until we finally descended to the truck with our lives and lived to tell the story!
The final ascent to the lookout.
The final ascent to the lookout.
SUCCESS! Made it to the lookout tower at the top.
SUCCESS! Made it to the lookout tower at the top.
But I can attest to the fact that those huckleberry pancakes were SO yummy.  And I still have a small bag of frozen huckleberries picked along that trail in my freezer today!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? You're going to get us EATEN!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? You’re going to get us EATEN!
Anyone else have a favorite “summit” trail that’s possible to walk up and not be scared to death of the climb?  (Angel’s Landing doesn’t meet the criteria, btw).  Please leave a comment and share so I can add it to my already extensive bucket list!  Cheers!  Jan


  1. We have done a few hikes in the Canadian Rockies. Saddle back pass at Lake Louis is a great way to start. From there you can continue on to Fairview Mountain at the summit you are around 9000 feet. The whole hike is 6 to 7 hours round trip. If you just do saddle back pass it is about 3 hours round trip.
    Another great hike is Mount Edith Cavell is another great hike. It is complete with a glacier feed lake and stunning veiews of the sorounding mountains.Plan for a full day hike 6 hours should do it in and out.
    Red earth creek trail is another one not to miss. We usually take our mountain bikes up for the first 3 hours of climbing, it a great ride but mostly up hill. At the top you can lock up your bike, and hike for about an hour to a Mountain valley. The views of the souronding mountains are stunning. At the top there is a trail hiding out post complete with cabins and horses. Bring lunch and enjoy the views. The way down is fun and fast, a bike with Full Suspension is a must. This is just a taste or the hikes that await you in the Canadian Rockies.

    • Wow! THANKS Marcel! More fun to add! Since we don’t have mountain bikes (only front springs on our geezer bikes), we’ll likely have to find another hike instead of the Red Earth Creek option, but I’m sure hiking opportunities abound! Thanks again! Cheers — Jan

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