Camping in Glacier National Park, Adventuring in Whitefish & Lincoln Lakes Hike

After saying goodbye to Jimi in the wee hours of the morning (the sun hadn’t rose yet!) Nick and I stopped in Waterton village to shower, grab a coffee and a morning glory muffin from a new cafe that opened on Main Street. Forgive me, but I can’t recall the name and it’s so new, Google couldn’t find it either. Friends, do you know?
Consider this my new go-to spot for coffee and freshly baked goods in Waterton. Morning glory muffin! GET SUM. I noticed they had  fun-looking mac & cheese infused breakfast sandwiches too.

A short while later, Nick and I crossed the Alberta/Montana border and made our first stop in St. Mary for breakfast at Park Cafe. We split two plates – sweet (huckleberry pancakes + huck syrup) and savory (eggs, bacon, ham, toast).  I advised Nick as of that moment forward, whenever presented with the opportunity to eat huckleberry-anything, we had to take it! SEIZE THE DAY.

I LOVE HUCKS and they’re plentiful in the northwestern area of Montana.  Not easily cultivated, they’re similar to a wild blueberry – but sweeter and more concentrated in flavor.

Once we were fueled up with a proper breakfast, we entered Glacier National Park and headed straight for the campgrounds in the West Glacier area. Most (if not all?) of Glacier’s campgrounds are first come, first serve and we wanted to be there as early as possible. Check out time in the state campgrounds is 11am and we made it there shortly after. First, we checked out Sprague Creek on Lake McDonald but it was full, so we moved onto Apgar. It’s the largest campground in West Glacier and situated on the south shore of Lake McDonald. I’m really glad we didn’t stay at Sprague because it’s adjacent to the road and I think we would’ve become annoyed with the traffic noise.

If state park camping isn’t your thing, there are plenty of private campgrounds in the valley between West Glacier and Whitefish. None of the state campgrounds in West Glacier have showers, but you can pay nearby campgrounds to use their services.

We had list of potential hikes planned for our time in Glacier, in addition to checking out Whitefish for beach time + eating. Basically, we planned our days depending on whatever felt fun that particular day. Half planning-half winging it is definitely my vacay style.  After setting up our campsite, we were both really tired so we took a nap until the early-afternoon heat of the day woke us up. We used  the remainder of the afternoon and evening to travel to Whitefish. First, we stopped at a grocery store for snacks and things we can’t get in Canada – fun La Croix flavours, RX bars, Siggi’s yogurt, etc then drove to City Beach in Whitefish where we chilled at the lake for a couple hours.

This was the quietest City Beach I’ve ever encountered. It was July 5 – where was everyone?! I wondered if they were hungover or dead from the day before. Even Whitefish itself was quiet.

There was definitely wine in my Swell bottle. 🙂

Once we got bored of the beach, we walked to Jersey Boys Pizza for a slice. Nick loves super gooey, cheesy fold-in-half pizza and I knew he’d approve. 😀

Next, I told him we were stopping by “The Village Ice Cream of Whitefish” – Sweet Peaks! Check out these flavours:

I sampled avocado lime + raspberry pie but they didn’t wow me so I went with straight up huckleberry. It was the thickest, dreamiest ice cream I’ve ever tasted. How I wish we had more time so I could enjoy more of their magical offerings.

I don’t know what it was about Apgar campground, but I had THE BEST sleeps ever. Deep, delicious, dreamless sleeps. There was an earthquake on our first night and we slept so soundly we didn’t notice a thing. Meanwhile everyone else was like, “How could you not?!”

The next morning, as we readied ourselves for a long, full day of hiking, I fueled up with eggs and a PBJ sandwich. It’s my favorite camping breakfast.

We thought Lincoln Lakes would be a nice day adventure as it didn’t include too much elevation gain, and would take us to a nice emerald lake with a large, cascading waterfall. The hike is nearly 20 miles return and while we were confident we could happily handle the distance, we didn’t know how boring of a trail it is. Don’t do this hike in Glacier! Guys, it was eight, long hours trudging through thick foliage with no views. It took a lot of mental endurance to get through this one.

It went on and on and ooonnnnnnn for what felt like an eternity. Just when we thought we were getting close, NOPE. Deeper into the forest we went. Until finallyyyyy we reached beautiful Lincoln Lake, took a look around and thought, “Nope! Definitely not worth the journey to get here.” Haha! Ya win some and lose some.

We were amidst a major heatwave and in addition to overheating, my clothes were soaked in sweat. I immediately removed my clothes, hung them on branches to dry took a refreshing (naked) dip in the lake. I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing me as we were the only people on the trail and deep in the backcountry by this point. That should’ve been our first tip it sucked!

After a brief rest, we chugged a beer, manned up and mentally prepared ourselves for the long journey back to the car. Normally we’d run, but we needed to conserve our precious, rapidly depleting water and energy to make it through the afternoon. I have never been so excited for a hike to end! We celebrated with parking lot beers and several cups of ice water.

We immediately drove to the Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse (go here!) for burgers and a huck milkshake. We were starving and that milkshake was one of the best things I’ve ever had. It was bursting with lots of fresh berries.

After dinner, we paid $5 each to shower at a nearby private campground, changed into clean clothes and spent the rest of the evening at Lake McDonald with more beer. It was a heavenly way to end our very long day of hiking.

Just like everyday life, sometimes adventures don’t turn out the way we anticipated and that’s okay!

Over to you:

Have you regretted any hiking adventures? Which trails do you NOT recommend?

Have you tried huckleberries?

10 thoughts on “Camping in Glacier National Park, Adventuring in Whitefish & Lincoln Lakes Hike

  1. I want all of those huckleberry things. I’m in the process of renewing my passport and getting Liam one so we can check out that area in the near future. I’ve never been!

    • That’s great – it’s such an amazing place. Waterton + Glacier are the best Rocky Mtn places to visit imo! 🙂

  2. Oh dear. The first summer I lived in West Glacier, that was my first hike. It really does suck, lol. Oh well, at least you had the luxury of skinny dipping with complete privacy! 🙂

    • So cool you lived in West Glacier. What were you doing there? Working with parks??

  3. The coffee shop is called “Larkspur Coffee House” they have the best food.

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