Apgar Lookout Trail

HARD 84 reviews
#23 of 117 trails in

Apgar Lookout Trail is a 7.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Columbia Falls, Montana that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
7.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,948 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

horseback riding
23 hours ago

Very narrow. Not that enjoyable. My husband very experienced and he did not enjoy.

I felt bad for the hikers always having to off the trail to get out of our way.

11 days ago

4th major trail we have attempted in the past ~7 yrs. Avalanche/ Danny On nearing 10X each. Birch Lake 1x. Apgar was easy to rank at the bottom of this grouping. No shade, payoff at the summit was solid but not what you get at Avalanche or Birch. Great workout and a good climb for sure. Parking was excellent. Horse poop was plentiful

13 days ago

A mostly steep, strenuous hike and we had to dodge horse poop all the way up (guess I shouldn't have picked a trail frequented by horses, huh?). We hiked on a day that started off overcast and never cleared up until much later than anticipated so I can't say what the view is like at the top. However we did hike up to the tower. Lots of mosquitoes so bring your big spray. We made it up in 1hr 24min, down in an hour but it definitely was an exhausting hike. Parking lot full by 10:30am so get there early.

hiking
19 days ago

Nice hike. The views are pretty most of the way, quite a few wildflowers near the start of the trail. Took just under 2 hours to get to the lookout with a lot of stops could probably do it in under 1.5 hours with no stops.

23 days ago

Make sure to drive all the way up to the trailhead, about 2 miles PAST the Apgar Corral (road on the left). It’s a fairly challenging hike with beautiful views. Take a hat and bug spray! Fun fact, you get full service at the top! :)

horseback riding
28 days ago

We did this trail on horseback which made it seem really steep but the horses are so familiar with the trail it was a lot of fun! Beautiful view at the top Did it early June , no snow. Seemed like plenty of people on the trail

hiking
29 days ago

Great place to hike, far from the madding crowd! Excellent views as you start the long zig-zags up the mountain. But the real goal is to persevere to the top to get superb views N-S-E-W. p
Parking at trailhead somewhat limited approx 24 cars, no RVs or 5th wheels allowed. Approach road rough and narrow in stretches with few pull overs.

29 days ago

Nice hike on this side of the park. The first part of the hike is through forest. Once you get to the base of the mountain there is no tree coverage. The switchbacks are steep - we had to take breaks along the way, and the view is the same the entire way up. Once you get to the ridge and make it to the top you have excellent 180 degree + views of the mountains. We packed a lunch and ate at the top. It took us 2 hours up (with breaks along the way) and 1.5 hours down. The descent is steep and was hard on my knees, so if you have hiking poles you’ll want to bring them.

1 month ago

Nice hike if you’re spending time on the West side of the park, relatively easy trail that’s a consistent uphill. Lovely views at the top. Not super crowded even in August.

hiking
1 month ago

Good hike. Hardly anyone on this yesterday. Trail is in good condition. Once you start up the incline stays constant until the top.

1 month ago

Great trail, uphill, but dirt, gravel grade (smooth), so manageable. Can’t beat the view from the top! Remember your bug spray. We saw about 13 varieties of wild flowers.

hiking
2 months ago

Still some snow on trail . Be ready with your waterproof /snow shoes . Lot of logs on the trail also . Had to park just before the bridge due to blocked road . So add additional 1.9 mile from parking lot to trail start point .
Views are amazing ! No animals noticed on the trail .

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous hike, seemed like a well maintained trail. It got snowy in the afternoon which made the trail a little harder on the way down. Be aware there's a decent distance between the parking lot and the start of the trail so it will probably take a little longer than expected. The switchbacks were long with a relatively constant small incline, which made going up challenging, but the view at the top was so worth it. Breathtaking spot.

hiking
7 months ago

Got a late start and had to turn around, spur of the moment thing. I will try again in spring and get a much earlier start.

The steeper part of the trail has long grades between switchbacks and although altitude is not a problem for me, the constant climb was had on my knees.

hiking
8 months ago

FYI In route you will travel on an unpaved road with a one lane bridge. No bathroom at the trailhead.

Went in the afternoon. The start of the hike is in a once burned forest in recovery not steep at all. Spots of shade. Lots of horse poop. I mean LOTS! The majority of the trail is exposed so be prepared for lots of sun and/or exposure to other elements.
Long distances between switchbacks on the steepest part of the trail. Decent sights along the way. View at the top of course made it worth it. Bring plenty of water and a snack for the summit.

hiking
10 months ago

It was steeper than I expected. Definitely worth the view at the top. Take plenty of water.

hiking
10 months ago

Not a bad trail overall though it is pretty much uphill the entire way up....sooo that means downhill the entire way down....on the bright side this is one of those trails that will give you buns of steel ;D The top is quite nice and relaxing sitting on the lookout post chatting with other hikers.

Side note: my track is pretty accurate minus that very weird line...lol

11 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

Made this hike in early August. Start early! 6:00 am. It is mostly exposed new growth area. The hike is moderate. Nice and easily elevated and shaded early on. The sun will be behind Apgar most of the early morning. Dusty trail. Nice views at the top of Lake McDonald.
The tower makes for a nice place to eat and relax a bit. Please don't feed the wildlife. They were becoming pretty aggressive at the tower.

hiking
11 months ago

For the athletically fit and active, it is indeed a moderate trek. However, for the inexperienced and out-of-practice, it is much more difficult.

My family and I (there are six of us in total) hiked this trail on a Wednesday. Not a lot of people up there, but there were horse-back riders. Twice a week a trail ride will go up and down the mountain. They were a little difficult to navigate around, so try to go on a day when they won't.

We started our journey at 9:30 AM when it was still cool, but it became very hot very quickly. There's little to no shade on this trail. Additionally, the trail is very dusty. Expect to get your shoes and legs dirty.
I would advise hiking on cloudy/cooler day, or earlier in the morning to avoid the sun's aggressive afternoon rays.
Otherwise, be sure to apply sunscreen before hiking.

The first mile was the easiest- so if you're struggling early on, this might not be the hike for you. It only gets harder the farther up you go.
It's 3.65 miles up, and you climb approximately 2,106 feet, and most of that climb is after the first switchback. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to the top. It is important to note that we did take frequent (but necessary) stops to rest.

We spent about 40 minutes at the Lookout to rest, refuel and take pictures. The views are amazing! You can see Lake McDonald and the mountains behind it, the entirely of the West Glacier valley (including views of Lake 5 and Half Moon Lake), and miles and miles of untouched wilderness.
You need to bring at least 2 water bottles per person, if not more. I wish I would have brought 3.
Also, bring snacks (high in protein would be best).

Going downhill was easier, but hard on the feet. We all had good hiking shoes, but despite that all of our feet were sore by the end. It took us 1.5 hours to hike down. We were completely exhausted by the time we reached our car.

If you're looking for a challenging hike, you've found it. However, if you want a more relaxing hike that the whole family can enjoy, I wouldn't recommend this one.
If you do decide to hike this trail, just make sure you're prepared.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

super hot, very little shade but still worth the quick hike. tons of wildflowers along the gradual hike up and nice views of the river. there are just a few steep bits of the trail but it's mostly a very gradual incline. we hiked over 4th of july weekend and hardly ran into anyone at all on this trail. it's super hot. very warm, lots of sun. do not forget sun protection. you can run but you can't hide, ya know?

hiking
Friday, July 07, 2017

Stunning views from the top. This is rated as a moderate trail and I agree with the difficulty level. We saw many deer and a partridge during our trek. Make sure you have the essentials - bear spray, a warm shirt and a light raincoat. Hiked this in late June and found all of the sights absolutely breathtaking. If visiting Montana / Glacier, make sure this trek is on your list.

hiking
Thursday, June 29, 2017

I'm in training for Granite Park Chalet loop trail in two days so I did this hike. Agree with most reviews--beautiful views at the top. The strong sun was the biggest challenge. Took my time at the top to enjoy a picnic on the lookout station. Proud I could accomplish at age 62.

hiking
Thursday, June 29, 2017

I'm in training for Granite Park Chalet loop trail in two days so I did this hike. Agree with most reviews--beautiful views at the top. The strong sun was the biggest challenge. Took my time at the top to enjoy a picnic on the lookout station. Proud I could accomplish at age 62.

hiking
Thursday, June 01, 2017

Fun hike with great views all the way up. Make sure to bring enough water and sunscreen, no tree coverage!

hiking
Friday, May 19, 2017

Glad I did it but not on my list to repeat. Had to do the additional 2 miles since road was closed. Very steep, and snow at the top was a little treacherous. Very challenging at steep sections -- views were nice though.

hiking
Friday, March 03, 2017

Great hike! The wildfire burnout area only adds the the beauty of this trail. It was a bit longer than anticipated, but the view of the Rocky Mountains made it fly by. The fire lookout at the top is a great spot to stop for a snack, we were fortunate enough to run into some rangers who let us do some exploring inside.

hiking
Monday, September 26, 2016

Beautiful views! My friend and I did not realize it was as long as it was, did not bring enough water due to most of the trail being exposed and it being a very warm day. I would definitely hike this trail again but bring more water and snacks for the hike, but very beautiful secluded hike.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wonderful hike! More nature, less people. The only real drawback is the huge TV transformer by the lookout. Gorgeous views especially at the lookout.

horseback riding
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Completed this trail in May 2016 on horseback. Trail is well maintained. Many, many hikers along the way. Some areas were narrow which made it difficult for hikers and horses to pass. Hitching rails available at the top. Sneak a peek on the Glacier Webcams. Gorgeous hike and great views the whole way.

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