Teva Explorers, Berty and Emily Mandagie share their prime hiking and lakeside detours off the winding Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Words and Photos by Berty and Emily Mandagie.
Is it possible to say goodbye to summer and have a fall kickoff all on the same trip? Our latest trip to Glacier National Park came pretty close to making it a reality—and we were left satisfied and inspired all at the same time.
Glacier had been on our list of places to explore for quite some time. It’s a quick drive from our house, so we felt that we always had the time to go…someday. Well, summer crept to a close and we decided there was no better time to visit than NOW!
Knowing that the main scenic highway in Glacier National Park, Going-To-The-Sun Road, has a really short opening season, we decided to make it the main focus of our trip. The highway runs directly through the park and weaves around stunning mountain peaks for 50 gorgeous miles. It’s generally only open from early July to mid-October because as soon as the snow hits, it’s really difficult to plow—it usually takes crews 2 months to clear the road after the winter season.
Just like the Going-To-The-Sun road, this trip was full of twists and turns, incredible views, and unexpected adventures at every pullout. If you’re considering a last-minute trip to Glacier this fall, here are some of our reflections and tips for your own magical trip to the Montana Rockies.
Soaking in the view off the Hidden Lake Trail. Pictured: Arrowood Venture Mid in Dark Olive.
HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL WAS JUST WOW.
Little did we know that this short and sweet trail tucked behind the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center would blow our minds. Being one of the shorter hikes in Glacier National Park, it sure does pack an incredible view.
Hiking to Hidden Lake was the first trail of our Glacier trip and it really set the mood for the rest of the week. We loved that we arrived during sunset—the late summer colors and warm tone of the sky really made for incredible photos.
It was our first time testing out the new Arrowood Venture hiking shoes and we can confirm that they kept our feet comfy the entire way. This was a super easy trail to reach, as it can be accessed right off the Going-To-The-Sun Road. If you’re looking for a hike but aren’t ready to tackle a double-digit mile adventure, we highly recommend Hidden Lake.
Emily warms up her toes in the Ember Moc in Helix Green.
LAKE JUMPS ARE STILL A THING IN THE FALL.
Think cold mornings and glacial lakes don’t mesh? Think again. Lake hangs were a daily event during our trip to Glacier National Park. There were many mornings we had breakfast and coffee on the shores and jumped in for a final wake up call afterward.
The easiest ones to access from the Going-To-The-Sun Road are Lake McDonald on the west side and St Mary Lake on the east. Make sure to pack a quick-dry towel and have some clothes prepped and ready when you want to change out of your wet swimsuit or trunks.
Another lake-jumping essential was our Ember Mocs with the collapsible heel. We found that they were incredibly easy to slip on after we jumped in so we could keep the sand off our feet on our way to get that second cup of coffee on the shore.
Jumping in the lakes was a fun dare, a spontaneous thrill, and a perfect way to say goodbye to summer. (Also, a big reminder that these fall mornings are well…cold!).
FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR CAMPING
Isn’t it the best when you see that perfect puff of steam come off your morning coffee as you step outside?
We think fall is the perfect season for camping for so many reasons. First, the lack of bugs! We didn’t have to break out the bug-spray once. It’s also perfect weather for sleeping in. The sun rises a little bit later and the temperature stays a little cooler in the early mornings so you can burrow in your sleeping bag just a bit longer.
Pictured: Arrowood Venture in Vineyard Wine.
Pictured: Arrowood Venture Mid in Dark Olive.
When camping, we like to go exploring for free campsites and other unique places just steps away from the park. Some nights we would drive far enough down a forest road until we found a previously used pullout and call it a night! It’s an exciting adventure to search for new and beautiful places to wake up.
One of our favorite camping spots we found was off a dirt road that overlooked St Mary Lake and Going-To-The-Sun road. We watched the sunset, and then eventually all the car lights as they trailed the lake at night.
We also loved cooking next to the fire and drinking hot cocoa as the flames crackled. The perfect shoes for sitting around the campfire were our Ember Mids that kept our feet dust free and cozy all night long. It was like a sleeping bag for our feet!
Emily keeps her ankles toasty wearing the Ember Mid in Rooibos Tea.
The Mandagies extended family in the Ember Family.
FALL IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK IS A PERFECT TIME TO BRING BUDDY
Exploring outside is more fun with friends! We had my brother join our Glacier adventure party at the last minute, and it ended up being so fun to share these memories with others.
It was also a great opportunity for Berty and I to get some photos together—something we don’t normally get to do. Being able to share these fall memories with the ones we love is something we won’t ever take for granted.
It’s not too late to plan your own last-minute trip to someplace that you’ve been wanting to visit but have been putting off for whatever reason. We encourage you to grab a few friends, pack the car, and take that adventure this Fall. You never know, you might find some cool lakes to jump in!
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