Lake McDonald + the Sperry Trailhead


Day 1 in Montana, June 23, 2016.

Leading up to our trip I had made a “Glacier Bucket List” and presented it to Elliot along with unbelievable pictures to back them up. It was actually pretty difficult to narrow things down, what with just six days and 1,012,837 acres of park to explore. We had to choose our stops wisely.

It just so happened that one of those stops, Lake McDonald, was very close to the West entrance of the park. We ventured into Glacier around 4pm on our first full day in Montana (June 23, 2016). Before stopping by the lake, we decided to see what trails were nearby. Turns out we were right by the Sperry Trailhead which led to a daunting hike I had read about called the Mt Brown Trail. Feeling ambitious, we took off on our first hike in the park. I wish I could say we conquered Mt Brown that night, but the sun was on its way down and there was no way we would make it all the way up before sunset.

This trail is not for the faint of heart (or weak of knees or anyone with less than very good stamina). Almost immediately you find yourself on an uphill slant, passing through a dense forest of western hemlock and red cedars. Initially I felt that the sights-to-effort ratio on the Sperry Trail was lacking, but then we came to the first clearing and were amazed by the view and at the elevation we had gained in such a short time. From the start of the trailhead to the Mt Brown outlook (about 4.5 miles one-way), you gain 4,250 feet in elevation which makes it one of the most difficult hikes in Glacier. I thought things were tough after a few switchbacks, but then we reached this faint little pathway heading steeply up through some brush… and  realized that that was actually the true start of the Mt Brown trail.

After heading back down, we spent a couple hours exploring the shores by the Lake McDonald Lodge and found a secluded spot to watch the sun set. We agreed that neither of us had ever been in such a beautiful place before.


Looking back at Lake McDonald


Some clearings offered mountaintop views


Heading back down




Making friends






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