Every time I’ve gone into Glacier National Park it has been a different experience. The very first time I went it was cloudy and there was a light dusting of freshly fallen snow. From there on I’ve encountered lots of snowy days, and lots of sun-filled days (still snowy) but today was a bit different. Today was the first day I got to experience the ride to the top of The Loop.
Up until now it had all been snowed out, or there had been road damage. I’d only ever made it as far as the Avalanche Lake parking lot (see map below for distances and directions). But, I finally joined a bike group that like to tackle this route before the full season kicks in, so I figured I’d join!
Going to the Sun Road is hailed by many national park enthusiasts as one of the greatest drives you can take in the USA, if not the world. With riverside driving where the water shines a beautiful turquoise to winding switchbacks that allow you to take in amazing peaks – this ride will take your breath away…
And that’s exactly what happened.
We stated out at Lake McDonald Lodge, located on the NE side of the Lake on Going to the Sun road (GTTS from here out). As you pass through the gates that close the road to thru-traffic, you encounter your hiking and biking brethren. The road starts on a shallow descent and flattens out as you make your way to the first checkpoint – the Avalanche Lake Parking lot. There will be plenty of opportunities to pull off and take the scenery, and it’s very likely someone else will join you!
After you reach the Avalanche Lake parking area, you begin your first moderate ascent. Multiple moderate corners plus the gradual incline don’t feel like any biggie at this point, and on both sides of you are amazing glacial carved peaks saying hello from above the treetops.
At about 8 miles from the lot is where you begin the real ascent. Although it doesn’t feel all that steep at first, about another couple miles in and the grade increase drastically. you will begin to hug the northern rim of the canyon – ever pushing onward and upward! There are small waterfalls from snow runoff just about everywhere, so be prepared to get a cooling blast!
As you approach the tunnel, you’re about to make your final uphill push – that is, if you’re gonna stop at the loop.
The trees on your left begin to thin as you make your way into the tunnel, This allows for some AMAZING views of Heaven Peak and the surround peaks. The mist from the falls both before and after the tunnel will feel great as well – especially since you’ve been doing the uphill push for quite some ways. Once you are out of the tunnel you have about a half mile to go – finish line should almost be in sight!
Make your way around the bend and you’re there! The Loop! Simply a sight to behold and left me at a loss for words, I HIGHLY recommend making the trek if you get the chance. You could also do it by car too, if you don’t want to workout haha
*EDIT 6May18 – For more images check out my video above!*
Thanks for reading the article, I hope it inspired you to get out there and adventure!
Until the next one, see ya!