When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.
It is a year round hiking trail but not recommended with snow and ice in winter time. After rainfall, some parts of the trail are muddy and slippery. Best time for hiking from April until October.
Glacier National Park can be visited year-round. However, the 'real' season is very short: June/July until August/September. June can only be recommended at lower elevations, as many areas are still snow covered. July and August are the pleasant peak months. September is still great in terms of weather and the crowds start to dissipate as well.
From late October until May/June you have to deal with snowfall or snow covered ground. June is 'rainy season' and most hiking trails are still snow covered well into June, on high elevations even until mid-July. July and August are the sunniest months. September is still great: Usually zero snowfall pleasant temperatures and less crowds (see below). New snow can be expected from mid October. However, heavier snowfall won't start before November.
The climate is often wet, windy and variable. Always be prepared for weather changes, even in the summer. Bring rain gear an dress in layers. Nights are much cooler. Also, be prepared for cooler temperatures at higher elevations. Popular areas like Logan Pass at higher elevations are usually 10-15°F (6-8°C) cooler. Bottom line: For a snow-free hiking adventure go between early July and mid-October. Please keep in mind that most services and lodges close between mid-September and end of September.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
The park recently set new records for visitation. As of 2017 the number of visitors increased significantly in the peak summer months. Resulting in overcrowded parking lots, a congested Going to the Sun Road and very busy popular areas.
Besides visiting the less interesting spots in peak season, there are three main options to avoid the crowds:
Visit in Fall:
September after the extremely busy Labor Day weekend is an excellent time: Less crowds, still snow free areas and pleasant temperatures. The GTTS Road is still open and most services are available until mid-September, some until the end of the month. The first half of September is already significantly less busy compared to July and August. However, not super quiet: Try to start your activities early (see below) and go mid-week if possible. It’s even quieter and still pleasant temperature wise from mid-September until mid-October. An excellent time for hiking. However, hotels, lodges and cabins in the park are closed by the end of September. Solution in October: Lodging outside the park in West Glacier Lodging (Glacier Highland) If you consider visiting in spring to avoid the crowds: Not recommended for hiking adventures. The temperatures are often pleasant but the trails are snow covered well into June.
If you only can or want to visit in the summer, getting out early is the best way to avoid crowds. Even on popular hiking trails like Highline or Grinnel Glacier Trail you won’t see many others during peak season if you start your hike at or before 8 a.m. One visitor reported that he started the hike to Grinnel Glacier in August 2017 at 7 a.m. and had the whole trail for himself. On the way back about 200 people passed. Your scenic drive should begin even earlier if possible. Usually it starts to get busy around 9 a.m on GTTS Road in the summer months.
Alternatively begin your activites late. Start hiking between 4 and 5 p.m. Although only shorter hikes are possible at that time, the trails are much quieter. The best short hikes include Hidden Lake Overlook at Logan Pass, Redrock Falls and Virigina Falls. Starting your scenic drive later is a great option as well: On the GTTS Road it’s beginning to thin out around 4 p.m. Tip: Have a late lunch or an early diner between 3 and 4 p.m., as it’s much easier to get a seat at that time Then start your scenic drive on GTTSR.
Highlight (Going-to-the-Sun Road)
Some parts of the GTTS Road are open all year. However, the fascinating portions on higher elevations are only open in summer and early fall. There is no set date, but the road is usually fully open from early July until mid-October. All depending on the weather and road conditions. More details: Going to the Sun Road - NPS
It is better to start in the morning or before noon, since the walk can take more than six hours (depends on how fit you are). Always check forecast before you go!
Some say, the best time to visit Scotland is from mid April to the end of May, but you can experience good weather all year round.
Isle of Skye, also known as "Misty Isle", has only few really good days for climbing the higher mountains. The best time is usually from mid April to the end of May, but you can be lucky and experience a great day throughout the whole year. From my experience, it is better to start after noon, since evenings are usually more calm on Skye. Check the forecast before you go! Note that climbing Sgurr Alasdair requires mountain experience. People who suffer from vertigo should not try this. Note that Cuillin ridge can be very dangerous place for people who underestimate it. Weather can change very quickly and navigation is very hard on the ridge. Use proper clothes, shoes and equipment when going to the ridge and be ready for every eventuality.
Isle of Skye, also known as "Misty Isle", has only few really good days for climbing the higher mountains. The best time is usually from mid April to the end of May, but you can be lucky and experience a great day throughout the whole year. From my experience, it is better to start after noon, since evenings are usually more calm on Skye. Check the forecast before you go!
This gorgeous scenic trail can be hiked year-round. However, read on for our suggestions regarding the best months:
Mid-April - May: Good chance of dry weather. The temperatures go up to 10 - 15 °C. However, Scotland’s weather is unpredictable. For hikers May is often one of the best months: Warm enough, longer daylight, lush and green landscape, wildflowers bloom, less tourists.
June - August: Long, sunny days, warmest time. However, it’s peak season: Most tourists and highest accommodation prices. Annoying midges are at their worst.
September - October: Less busy and midges start to disappear as well. Temperatures in September are between 10 and 16°C in and between 6 and 12°C in October. Idyllic landscape with beautiful foliage. In October deer are rutting. Great time for hiking and wildlife spotting here.
November - March: It can get very cold and days are short. Guesthouses are often closed.