NPS Trail Report 5/25/12
Lake McDonald West Shore burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003. This trail starts in Fish Creek Campground and ends at the cabins near the end of the lake. Until you get into the cedar forest the trail is through the remains of the fire. Before starting the hike, I took my bike and chained it to a tree near the cabins at the end of the lake, returned by car to Fish Creek, hiked to the end of the lake and then biked back to Fish Creek Campground. Seven miles of trail & 18 miles of biking.
Since the Roberts Fire there is no shade on this trail. If you want to see the effects of a forest fire up close then this is a good trail. The Loop Trail to Granite Park is another trail showing the effect of forest fires up close. That was the Trapper Peak Fire of 2003. The West Shore of Lake McDonald Trail is a much easier hike and had a more diverse forest. The trail goes through burnt-out forest. In some of the areas regrowth has started, in others the fire burned so hot that the rocks cracked. In those areas the regrowth is minimal. Easy hike but be sure to look at the photo above before hiking, I enjoyed the hike, your mileage may vary. Another hike with the trees burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003 is the Apgar Lookout Trail. You can see the most of the area covered by the Lake McDonald Shore Trail from Apgar Lookout.
Trillium ovatum was blooming in mid April 2007. 2011 has the potential to be a great wildflower year in the uper alpine ranges, once the snow melts in August.. With the current amount of snow on the ground at the lower altitudes (3,000 feet) there was a good wildflower year in the lower altitudes, tempered by hot dry weather in July after a very, very wet June.
Lake McDonald was frozen the early part of March 2007, the month before I hiked/biked the West Shore Trail. Lake Mcdonald didn't freeze solid in 2009, but there is considerable snow cover in the valley floor. During the winter of 2010/2011 Lake McDonald again partially froze.