Highline Trail – Guide to Glacier Park’s Most Popular Day Hike

Updated: December 7, 2022
Highline Trail- Glacier National Park

Looking to hike one of Glacier National Park’s most popular day hikes?

Then the Highline Trail is perfect for you.

This guide will give you all the information you need for your journey along the Highline Trail.

Highline Trail Facts

  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,950ft
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 11.4 miles
  • Quickest Route: Via Logan Pass
  • Highlights: Mt Cannon, Mt. Oberlin, Heavens Peak, Swiftcurrent Mountain, the Salamander Glacier, and Grinnell Glacier, the Garden Wall
  • Another name: Highline Loop

Highline Trail Hike

Route Overview

The Highline Trail is one of Glacier Parks’ most beautiful trails. It is most popular for its views along the Garden Wall. This is a wall that continues for 0.25 of a mile and is only 6-8ft wide. There are hand cables to guide you through this part of the trail. That way you can enjoy the stunning views without any obstructions.

This hike is often called the “Highline Loop” when in fact it is a one-way. For the most beautiful sea of wildflower, consider doing this hike in the summer. Catch a glimpse of Mt Cannon, Mt. Oberlin, Heavens Peak, Swiftcurrent Mountain, the Salamander Glacier, and Grinnell Glacier along this 11.4-mile trail all year long.

The Highline trail can be hiked all year round although it’s important to proceed with caution during the winter. The ground can be slippery and icy. You should avoid venturing off the trail for any reason. This can result in you walking on top of a snowfield that perfectly hides gaping holes.

The Highline Loop begins near Logan Pass. This is found on the north side of the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road. The best location to park for this hike is at “The Loop” about 13 miles east of the McDonald Lodge. From here, you can take a free shuttle to Logan Pass.

The hike starts along the Continental Divide aka the Garden Wall. The 2.5 miles of steep ledges and small walkways will come to an end and you will begin your climb up Haystack Pass. After 3.6 miles of climbing a fairly long switchback, you will follow the trail until you begin your descent back into the park. Your hike will continue along the Garden Wall Trail at the 6.9-mile mark. At 7.6 miles, you will reach Granite Park Trail.

This is where you will follow Highline Trail towards the Fifty Mountain Backcountry Campground. If you would like to visit or stay at the Granite Park Chalet (a national historic landmark) continue straight, to continue toward your destination follow left. At 11.2 miles you will reach the bottom near the Packers Roost Trail junction. Continue until you reach the trailhead.

For a panoramic view of the Glaciers, climb the side trail once you hit the 6.9-mile mark. Here you will reach the top of the Continental Divide, a perfect bird’s eye view of the park.

There are plenty of locations to camp or lodge along the Highline Trail. There is the Granite Park Backcountry Campground that includes 4 campsites. The Grand Park Chalet, built in 1914-15 is a rustic lodge and national historic landmark found in the middle of the park. This is a remote lodge that has no electricity and 12 guest rooms.

To shorten this trail, you can stop at Haystack pass and return back. This is 7.2 miles as opposed to the 11.4. Most people choose to stop here if they are tired. If you continue along, the scenery gets better as you reach the Granite Park Chalet and further.

Highline Trail Itinerary

It is crucial to begin this hike at dawn. It will take you approximately 12 hours and you will want daylight left on your descend. There are other trails to get to the Half Dome but the Mist Trail remains the most popular and scenic route.

To the Trailhead

The Garden Wall

Reach Granite Park Chalet


Highline Trail Map and Guidebook

The Highline Trail is found near Logan Pass, along the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park in Montana. Most people begin the Highline Trail at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, which is open during the summer season. Maps are available at the Visitor Center.

Highline Trail Recommended Guidebook

For an overview of Glacier, Banff, and Jasper National Parks, check out The Lonely Planet’s Banff, Jasper, & Glacier National ParksThis guide includes suggested itineraries, best hikes, and a list of places you must see as well as things that could be skipped.

For a detailed guide that includes information about the Highline Trail, look for The Falcons Guide: Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park: A Guide to the Parks’ Greatest Hiking Adventures (Regional Hiking Series) by Erik Molvar.

Please Note

This trail is in bear territory and you will want to remain alert. It is always better to hike in groups and carry bear spray. The louder you are, the less likely you are to surprise a bear and this is something you never want to do. Do not feed any animals along the way and keep your distance.

Video Overview

For a 12-minute in-depth documentary on the Highline Trail, watch this video. It showcases the beautiful views and provides additional information about safety and what to expect while on the trail.

Best Time To Hike Highline Trail

The Highline Trail is a great hike year round. It is especially beautiful in the summer for its wildflowers. If you are visiting in the winter, proceed with caution along the Garden Wall.

This area could be especially icy and slippery.

The Highline Trail can often close due to snow, so check the NPS website first. The glaciers are visible year round. Unfortunately, they continue decreasing in size year after year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What gear do I need?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

When do most trails open?

Is driving along the Going-to-the-Sun Road worth it?

What travel insurance do I need?

About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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