Beargrass blooms along the Highline Trail

Beargrass blooms along the Highline Trail with Heavens Peak and the Livingston Range in the background.

Photo by JUSTIN GRIGG/Missoulian

WEST GLACIER - The popular Highline Trail at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park opened Friday morning, while the Ptarmigan Tunnel was cleared Thursday.

Both classic trails remained closed late into the season this year, stymied by lingering snowpack. The Ptarmigan Tunnel was initially scheduled to be cleared June 24, but the snowpack proved too cumbersome for trail crews.

Portions of the Highline Trail at Logan Pass remain covered by ice and snow, and officials urged visitors to watch their footing and come prepared to hike in snowy conditions.

"Everything has been two to four weeks behind the normal schedule, and the Highline Trail was no different," Denise Germann, Glacier National Park's public affairs officer, said.

Park officials say snow drifts exist in areas of the Highline Trail and drop-offs between the edge of drifts and the trail exist in some locations.

Elsewhere in Glacier Park, rangers report that many trails at higher elevations remain snow covered and hikers need to be prepared for those conditions and plan accordingly.

"I think most if not all of the high-country trails still have some level of snow cover, and in some places there is ice," Germann said.

She recommended that visitors hike with appropriate self-arrest equipment, such as an ice ax, hiking poles and boots, and knowledge on how to use the equipment. She also advised hikers to be aware of their physical limitations and to turn back if in doubt.

"All hikers are encouraged to turn around if the conditions exceed what is comfortable," she said. "It can be deceiving when you're down in the warm valley, but at the higher elevations there is still a lot of snow."

Updates on current trail conditions can be found on the park's website at www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm.

Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at (406) 730-1067 or at tscott@missoulian.com.


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