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A lake all to yourself in Glacier National Park, at the height of summer tourist season? Sounds impossible. But that’s just what you’ll get at Logging Lake, a 25.6-mile out-and-back bisecting the area between Lake McDonald and Waterton Lake. The trail is pretty easygoing, the camping is good, and the fishing is even better.
Winding along the north shore of Logging Lake, between Adair and Logging Ridges, the trail stays mostly in the forest, but that low elevation means it opens earlier and stays hikeable later than most of the park’s trails. Bald eagles often swoop down to scoop cutthroat trout out of the lake, while above the wooded hills bordering the water 8- and 9,000-foot peaks raise snow-scattered summit pyramids to the sky. The best campsite comes at the very end, right next to Grace Lake, which shines like a diamond between ominous giants Mt. Geduhn (8,375 feet) and Vulture Peak (9,638 feet). Both whitefish and cutthroat trout can be found in Grace Lake; bring along your fishing pole to catch your own dinner right from the shore.
A long drive (and the length of the trail) keep most dayhikers and backpackers to the park’s more popular trails, but for those who make the drive, Logging Lake is a solitary wilderness oasis right in the middle of one of the country’s most visited national parks.
From the Inside North Fork Road (there are two ways to reach this long dirt road; check for closures at the visitor center to find out which one to take), drive up to Logging Creek and a patrol cabin. The Logging Lake Trail starts on the north side of the bridge over the creek. Begin in deep forest, then emerge into an older, slowing regrowing burn, with views of a newer one spotted with silver snags down by the creek. Traverse the hillside above Logging Creek, gaining some elevation as the trail winds between forest and open burn, then return to the trees as the path approaches the shore of Logging Lake. Returning periodically to the water’s edge, head up the lake to Adair Campground (a good spot for an extra night if you want to extend your trip) and the patrol cabin at the end of the lake. From there, the trail climbs again, leaving Logging Lake behind to ascend the slope of Mt. Geduhn where Grace Lake is perched.
A camping reservation and backcountry permit are required, as well as a fishing license if you plan to cast for trout. Bears are common in the area, so bring bear spray and consider bringing a canister for your food as well.
Map Trails Illustrated Glacier/Waterton Lakes National Parks ($12, natgeomaps.com)