Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
The Trail of the Cedars, one of two wheelchair accessible trails in Glacier National Park, is a loop hike that begins and ends on the Going-To-The-Sun Road, located 5.5 miles east of the Lake McDonald Lodge. Since this is an extremely popular trailhead, parking can be an issue during peak travel season.
Obviously you can start from either side, but most people begin their hike by proceeding along the eastern portion of the loop. This side of the loop travels along a raised boardwalk, and passes though a forest of ancient western hemlocks and red cedars.
Being situated on the eastern edge of the maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest, the Lake McDonald Valley also marks the extreme eastern limits for western hemlocks and red cedars. The humidity in this valley allows the cedars to grow to heights of 100 feet, and diameters of 4 to 7 feet. Some of the trees in this area are estimated to be more than 500 years old.
Avalanche GorgeLook closely and you’ll also notice the lush green of ferns and mosses growing along the forest floor. The boardwalk along this portion of the loop encourages visitors to take their time as they walk through habitat more normally found on the Pacific Coast.
At roughly the half-way point you’ll reach the highlight of the trail, a footbridge over Avalanche Creek that provides commanding views of the lower Avalanche Gorge.
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