Glacier National Park: Huckleberry Mountain
Climb 5.8 miles through lodgepole pines to a fire lookout perched above the Apgar Mountains with views that extend across Glacier National Park.
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This 11.4-miler starts near McGee Meadow and heads southwest along McGee Creek. The terrain steepens after .6 mile as the trail climbs above the McGee Creek drainage and winds through stands of lodgepole pines. At mile 4.2, hike up and over a small saddle, then continue northwest beneath the ridge of the Apgar Mountains. The ridgeline hike begins at mile 5.4—the trail crests another saddle, then travels north-northwest for the final .4 mile to Huckleberry Mountain. From the summit, panoramic views stretch out to the north toward the rugged Livingston Range. Follow the same route back to the trailhead.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Glacier National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
PARK INFO: Glacier National Park, (406) 888-7800; nps.gov/glac/.
CAUTION: In Glacier National Park, you could spit and hit a grizzly. Well, almost–the park features the highest bear density in the Lower 48. One recent study counted 563 individuals, and researchers suspect the actual population may be even higher. That’s .35 bears per square mile–or one bear within a one-mile radius of every backcountry campsite. 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–but backpackers may still complete overnight trips in the area.
SURVIVAL PLAN: To avoid crashing a grizzly smorgasbord, don’t linger around food sources like carcasses and berry bushes. Note the wind: Bears smell better than they see, and if you’re walking into the breeze, you might surprise one that hasn’t caught your scent. If you do startle one, avoid eye contact and back away slowly. Should the bear charge, drop to the ground, crouch in a fetal position to protect your vital organs, and clasp your hands across the back of your neck. Then, pray.
See more hazardous hikes at America’s 10 Most Dangerous Hikes.
-GPS data provided by the National Park Service
- Distance: 9.3
Location: 48.596549987793, -114.038444519043
Leave trailhead and hike southwest, paralleling McGee Creek.
Location: 48.592399597168, -114.049919128418
The climb steepens as trail enters McGee Creek drainage.
Location: 48.5929870605469, -114.054550170898
Trail traverses the forested slopes above the creek; hike west through a tunnel of lodgepole pines.
Location: 48.5861015319824, -114.080177307129
Trail rounds to the northwest beneath an unnamed 6,309-foot summit; continue climbing.
Location: 48.5885581970215, -114.114135742188
Crest a small saddle, then traverse southwest toward the Apgar Mountains ridge. In 500 feet, trail curves to the northwest.
Location: 48.5958213806152, -114.122779846191
Trail turns left and swings around the ridge of an unnamed 6,613-foot peak; head west.
Location: 48.5953140258789, -114.130920410156
From the saddle, follow Apgar Mountains ridgetop to the north-northwest for final .4 mile to the summit.
Location: 48.6004257202148, -114.134262084961
Huckleberry Mountain (6,593 ft.): A fire tower rises from this exposed summit; panoramic views stretch out to the north toward the rugged Livingston Range. Next, follow the same route back to the trailhead.