Never been to Glacier but always dreamed of coming? Anna is here to help.
Anna McHugh was born and raised here. She has spent her life exploring every corner of Glacier National Park, and now dedicates her work life to helping others do the same and works in the reservations department here at Glacier Park, Inc. As you can see from the photo of her above, she loves to hike. See below for her favorite trails. We asked her for her top tips on planning your trip to Glacier.
- Come for at least 5 days. There is a lot to see and do here. That’s why many people come back year after year. “I’ve been here my entire life and I haven’t seen everything yet,” Anna says. To see the most and maximize your time, Anna suggests a four-night itinerary: two nights in West Glacier / Lake McDonald area, one night at Glacier Park Lodge and one night at St Mary Lodge & Resort.
- Bring your car. Anna says it’s really the best way to see the most of the park. While there are shuttles, she says they run on specific times and can be difficult to connect all together.
- Sign up for activities. From ropes courses to horseback riding, there are lots of ways to delve deeper into the park. Anna’s favorite is a rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. “It’s thrilling, the guides are friendly and there are amazing things you can only see from the river.”
- Stock up in the bigger towns. Columbia Falls and Whitefish have larger grocery stores. Once you’re at the park, options for everything from gear to food are more limited. So, Anna suggests you load up on the bigger items in the bigger towns. Once here, you’ll be picking up your campfire, kitchen or picnic supplies at West Glacier Mercantile or the St. Mary Grocery Store. And they’re certainly charming enough to warrant a visit!
- Go hiking! From the Two Medicine Valley to St Mary Valley, there are a lot of trails here. They range from 1-mile interpretive walks to 20-mile challenging treks. There’s something for everybody, Anna says. See her list below of top hikes.
- Ice cream! Anna is a big fan of the Moose Tracks at the Cedar Tree Gift Shop in Apgar Village.
- Stay at Glacier Park Lodge. No matter how you design your itinerary, Anna says you can’t miss a night at this historic hotel. “It’s incredible when you walk into the lobby there. I love the history of GPL.”
- Make new friends. From the concierge at your hotel to friendly locals, everybody in Glacier is happy to help point you in a different direction or offer up their tips.
Anna's favorite hikes in Glacier
Hiking is extremely popular in Glacier. Trailhead parking lots fill up fast. Arrive early (before 10am), bring bear spray (and know how to use it) and check the trail reports
- Iceberg Lake (Many Glacier Valley). Strenuous. 9.6 miles. 1200 ft elevation. Moderate incline, ends at a lake covered in icebergs all summer.
- St. Mary Falls/Virginia Falls (St. Mary Valley). Moderate. 3.6 miles. 525 ft elevation. Comes to an incredible waterfall that sprays when you get close.
- Scenic Point (Two Medicine Valley). Strenuous. 8 miles. 2300 ft elevation. It’s a short, steep incline to the top of a section of the peak for dramatic panoramic views.
- Hidden Lake Overlook (Going-to-the-Sun Road). Easy. 2.7 miles. 540 ft elevation. Head up high over Logan Pass for wide-open views overlooking the blue lake and amazing pictures.
- Apgar Lookout (West Glacier). Strenuous. 7.1 miles. 1845 ft elevation. Head up to an old fire lookout for views of Lake McDonald.