NPS Trail Report 2012
Trail clear of snow 5/9/12
Compare that with last years status updates!
Avalanche Lake Trail
Avalanche Campground - Foot of Avalanche Lake ~ 2.0 mi.
TRAIL OPEN: 7/1/11 Trail is clear. 07/05/2011
UPDATE: Trail no longer muddy as of 6/27/11
75-100 yd section of trail is flooded due to high water approx. 1/3 mile from trailhead.
There are a number of other trail sections that are very muddy as of 6/23/11.
TRAIL CLOSED: 6/24/11 from Avalanche Gorge to Avalanche Lake due to Creek flooding above the gorge.
TRAIL OPEN: 6/26/2011 but is muddy and wet about 100-150 feet in
TRAIL CLOSED: 6/30/11 from Avalanche Gorge to Avalanche Lake due to creek flooding above the gorge.
Trail clear of down trees. 5/18/11.
During the winter of 2010 / 2011 there was an avalanche/micro burst that knocked down over fifty large trees from Avalanche Creek up to the Avalanche Lake Trail. These downed trees have opened up a new view of the mountains at Logan Pass from the Avalanche Lake Trail. The south western slopes of Mount Canon and Hidden Creek are now visible from Avalanche Lake Trail. The downed trees from the micro burst are about 1 mile from the start of the trail so at this point about one mile remains till Avalanche Lake. Glacier National Park Trail crews have cleared all but one of these trees from the trail. The mud and snow that was everywhere at the start of July 2011 are gone. On the return from Avalanche Lake at the new view spot I watched a grizzly sow and her twin bear cubs on the slopes of Mount Canon. Luckily some other hikers had good binoculars as I did not have my telephoto lens with me. I returned to this site on 7-21-11 with my long lens but no sign of any bears on the trail. Did see a large black bear cross Going To The Sun Road about half way between Apgar and Sprague Creek. The normally wide beach at Avalanche Lake is almost non existent. As you get nearer to the lake the forest undergrowth crowds the trail, having grown two feet a week since my last hike up to Avalanche Lake.
Avalanche Lake Trail will be displaying the effects of the winter of 2010/2011 for years to come. Between downed trees from avalanches and micro bursts and flooding caused by one of the largest snowfalls in years the after effects from snow, wind and melting snow scoured many parts of the trail. Once again without the swift intervention of Glacier Park's Trail crews Avalanche Lake Trail was not washed away in the early summer sprint melt.
Avalanche Lake Trail is one of the most traveled trails in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Lake Trail is a fairly easy rolling trail through an old growth cedar forest. This is a busy, crowded trail during the height of the summer season. The top photo of Avalanche Lake was taken in mid August of 2006. The black and white photo above was taken in 1901. Water level in 2006 was very low. Trail of the Cedars provides a scenic link to the trailhead for Avalanche Lake Trail. Few hikers realize the amount of maintenance that Glacier National Park Trail crews perform every year to keep these trails open.
Photo of Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park. © Shawn Coggins
USGS 1901. Glacier National Park, Montana. Avalanche basin. Chapman, R.H.
© Shawn Coggins The photo above was taken in early April of 2007 on the Trail of the Cedars just a short distance away from Avalanche Gorge. When I returned a month later to hike the Avalanche Lake Trail the Trail of the Cedars boardwalk was free of downed trees. The Avalanche Lake Trail had many more downed trees recently cleared from the trail in the spring of 2007. These downed trees were the aftermath of 'The Pineapple Express' in November of 2006. 'The Pineapple Express' was a major freak winter storm that occurred in early November of 2006. Heavy rains at high altitude that already had snow cover caused catastrophic flooding.
Trail of the Cedars, Avalanche Gorge spring run off mid May. Photo © Shawn Coggins
Photo of Avalanche Lake mid May 2007. © Shawn Coggins The winter of 2006/2007 was a 'light' snow year. Surprisingly, I didn't encounter any other hikers until arriving at Avalanche Lake shore. On the return hike I ran into several bus loads of school kids on a field trip to Glacier National Park. If you're seeking tranquility this is not the trail to hike.