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Apgar Lookout: This early season jaunt a great way to get in shape, with views

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | May 1, 2024 2:00 AM

The Apgar Mountain Lookout Trail is one of those trails to hike first thing in the season because it’s easy to get to and it’s a good conditioning trail, which is to say it exposes you to elevation gain in a hurry over its 3.5 miles.

It’s been years since I hiked it, but since I’m recuperating from heart surgery, the boy and I gave it a go on a bright sunny Saturday recently.

The trail starts out at the foot of Apgar Mountain at the end of the dirt Quarter Circle Bridge Road.

Except for the spring creeks that cross the trail at the base, there is no running water on the way up, which is another reason to do it early in the season — it’s a hot and dry bugger in the summer and you better have at least two liters of water with you, because it’s an open-south facing route with virtually no shade.

In the “old” days, which is to say 20-plus years ago, the route was almost entirely in a lodgepole forest, but the Robert Fire of 2003 changed all that. The route used to be shorter and steeper, but the trail was modified shortly after the Robert Fire as well, if memory serves me right.

Today the lodgepoles are certainly on the return, but not tall enough for any appreciable shade. All told, the route is 3.5 miles to the lookout and about 1,800 feet of elevation gain.

We weren’t the only ones getting in shape, we actually did the hike twice and on both occasions ran into guys running up the trail.

The one I talked to said he did it in just under 45 minutes. They don’t recommend running on trails in Glacier because of bear danger, but to each his own, I suppose. It took us just under two hours, not bad for my repaired heart. We also saw plenty of other folks just out for a stroll.

One guy we ran into had on a shirt that said “Macho Man.”

I couldn’t help but singing that song for awhile, as much I disliked it when it came out in ’79.

Such are the “trail hazards” in Glacier National Park.

    A chipmunk surveys the trail.
 
 
    Trillium blooms along the route.