No trip to Glacier National Park is complete without punishing your quads on the Hermit trail! The Hermit trail is a glorious hiking route which is very popular among backpackers looking for the perfect day hike or one night camping opportunity in the park. I would like to rename it ‘Hermit’s Staircase’ as it makes quick work of your quads climbing 800m in 2.8km and wasting no time before arriving at the Hermit meadows alpine bowl.
The meadow itself is magical but what makes this area truly special are the amazing adventure’s to experience just beyond the bounds of the parks Canada obelisk!
Meandering creeks, stunning mountain waterfalls, a secret high alpine lake, grassy tarns, glaciers and peaks galore hide just up from the campsite.
Tie up your boots, toss on your explorers cap and get ready to rock and roll. The Hermit trail is going to leave you sweaty and satisfied.
The Backcountry Basics
- Carry your Survival Kit & Essentials
- Let someone know where you’re going with a Trip Plan
- Know how to avoid negative wildlife encounters
- Practice Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness pristine
- Carry a Satellite Communicator like SPOT X
Table of Contents
|Distance (Round Trip)||6km|
|Time (Round Trip)||3-5 hours|
|Camping||yes in meadows (backcountry reservation required)|
Keep in mind that the stats above are the breakdown for the parks Canada trail only. The true beauty of this trail is to explore the surrounding areas as you please. We turned this into a full day mission and tacked on two different ascents gaining an additional 600m+ of elevation and who knows how many kilometers.
Glacier National park is quite simply an outdoor lovers heaven. From casual riverside hikes to expert mountaineering missions, Glacier National park is a playground that keeps on giving year round. The Hermit trail is located in the small paved parking lot on the west side of Hwy just North of the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre.
The trail begins just behind the wooden sign in the parking lot. The steep switchbacks begin almost immediately and make up most of the ascent for the first kilometer.
As you climb higher you will begin to be rewarded with views of Rogers Pass and the surrounding mountains. The trail straightens out and you will continue to climb straight up for the next 2 kilometers.
Although the trail may feel like a stair master on your quads, the terrain will keep your brain busy. I always love watching the trail beneath my feet switch from forest, to rock, to the grassy alpine.
The Parks team did a great job developing and maintaining this trail and I was completely shocked by the sheer amount of rock stairs and stepping stones placed along the walking path.
There will be a few ropes to help you on the way up. You’ll know you’re getting close when the sounds of the creeks become louder and the grass and wildflower coverage thickens.
Once you reach the hermit meadows the views are spectacular. Surrounded by a pristine wide open alpine bowl you’ll be awestruck by the glorious vantage point of Rogers pass, Mount Macdonald and abbot ridge.
All of the tent pads in the hermit meadows are amazing and it would be an ideal spot for a single night backpacking trip. You’ll probably need a break at this point so walk around a little bit, take in the views and find a spot to enjoy a snack.
We sat on a high point just across the creek and we were surprised to find a tent pad up there!
Extending The Adventure
Once you reach the parks Canada Obelisk the marked trail ends. But the adventure is just getting started!
For those who aren’t planning to conquer a summit with mountaineering gear you have two different hiking options.
The first is to head straight up above the campsite. You get climb up an awesome rocky ridge and it provides you with an exceptional birds-eye views of the campsite and the Rogers Glacier just to your left.
This was the least exciting of the two additional hikes but I still really enjoyed the rocky alpine landscape.
Swiss Glacier & The Secret Lake
No hiking trip to the Hermit meadows is complete without adding on a little visit to the Swiss Glacier and the secret lake. This portion of trail is without doubt, the highlight of the hermit trail.
Continue hiking past the parks Canada Obelisk on the well walked trail through the stunning grassy meadow. You will cross a few creeks, begin to ascend a little bit and then ascend to one of the most gorgeous alpine waterfalls I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
The waterfall is absolutely unbelievable. The unique patterns the falling water has carved into the rocks above and the manner it smashes off the big flat rock at the bottom was simply wonderful.
The path continues to be fairly well walked and clear as you begin to make your way up the grassy boulders on the mountainside. Make sure to take a peek back at the views and the gorgeous little tarns that look like little hot tubs tucked into the alpine grass.
You will have to do some basic route finding yourself. There are some rock cairns you can follow to the swiss glacier but they were often hard to spot. Make sure to take a good hard look to your left so you can spot the lake. This is where you will need to stop for a swim on the way back down to the meadow.
Continue hiking up wrapping around the steep rocks and cliffs to the left and you will naturally arrive at the Swiss Glacier.
Once you’ve enjoyed the sights and sounds of the glacier follow your steps back down until you see a good spot to traverse down the rocks towards the lake.
This was one of the most incredible lakes I’ve ever had the luxury of bathing in. Floating in crystal clear water, all by ourselves with huge jagged peaks behind us and expansive views of Rogers pass and Mt Mcdonald in the horizon. It is a truly magical spot to be.
After you’re dried up and ready to head back down to camp or the car, retrace your steps, and once again enjoy the journey.
Let me know if you have any Q’s in the comments.