Apgar Lookout Trail

MODERATE 65 reviews
#23 of 116 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 moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

7.3 miles
1948 feet
Out & Back



nature trips




wild flowers



no dogs

24 days 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 .

5 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.

5 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.

6 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.

8 months ago

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

9 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

9 months ago

9 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.

9 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.

10 months ago

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?

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Hiked to Apgar early in the season. Lookout Station still had 2 ft of snow. Nice views on way up and awesome views from lookout station. Take lots of water though in the summertime due to large amount of exposed trails.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Challenging hike with gorgeous views along the way. Tower lookout is the cherry on top of the hike sundae! Bring water & huff-n-puff your way to the top. (FYI: Pit toilet at peak.)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Incredible views throughout the hike. The trail is in great condition.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

it's a great trail as a training hike. When it's hot, bring water because there is no shade. The views aren't bad.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Beautiful view from the fire lookout.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

No shade, and the scenery didn't change much on the way up since it's basically just a bunch of switchbacks along one side of the mountain all the way to the top. The view at the top is nice, but you can get better views just driving through the park and pulling off, or hiking a different trail. Don't waste your time with this one.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Hiked to Apgar Fire Lookout tower on April 7th. Was a beautiful day with temps in the 50's. Add to add 1.9 miles to hike due to road closure from storm. Multiple trees down. But trail in good shape. Snow still on top but soft and not icy. Fantastic views from top of mountain.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Not a very pretty hike. Plus you have to sometimes share the trail with horses. Go early because you catch a ton of rays if you don't and take plenty of water and bug spray

Thursday, August 08, 2013

As we were camping in Fish Creek, we did this as it was near our base of operation. Overall, it is a moderate hike with good elevation gain. The trail itself is, for the most part, exposed so bring sunscreen and do this hike early in the day. At the top, one is awarded an ok view of Lake McDonald and some of the distant peaks of Glacier NP. However, trees skew some of this view.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Great view at the top. Lots of bugs though. Bring a good supply of water. Moderately difficult. It's a good hike to add to the list but I'm not sure ill be doing it again.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The view when you get to the top makes this trail worthwhile, however I have no desire to do it again...worthwhile for first timers =)

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