Lincoln Peak
I am not sure why I thought it was a good idea to go camping in Montana's Glacier National Park on the Labour Day long weekend of 2012, but my wife, Kelly Bou, and I went anyway and were fortunate to find a site at Avalanche Creek campground along the western section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Though I had originally planned on hiking elsewhere in the park, this was a good opportunity to explore some of the trails near Lake McDonald.  Looking for a sensible hike for both myself and Kelly, I noticed a very brief mention of Lincoln Peak in the introduction to the Lake McDonald area in A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park by J. Gordon Edwards.  Because Edwards does not elaborate much about the route up Lincoln Peak, I surmised that the ascent is trivial, and a quick look at a topographical map seemed to confirm this.  A lengthy but good trail runs from Lake McDonald Lodge up to Sperry Chalet, and from there, the trail continues over Lincoln Pass which is virtually within spitting distance of the summit of Lincoln Peak.

Kelly and I ate a quick breakfast at our campsite on the morning of 1 September 2012 before driving to the trailhead near Lake McDonald Lodge.  The trail was already quite busy when we began our hike, and we shared the trail with numerous fellow hikers as well as a string of horses carrying supplies and tourists to Sperry Chalet.  Though views were limited for the first several hours, I enjoyed walking through the forest of predominantly cedar and hemlock trees.  Besides, we were kept busy trying to side-step all the horse dung on the trail!  Toward the head of Sprague Creek valley, the trees began to thin out, and we were finally able to enjoy views of the surrounding peaks and ridges.  We even managed to find wild raspberries and huckleberries to eat along the trail which significantly slowed our progress.  At one point, a hoary marmot came bounding down the trail as if to greet us like our cats do at home, but at the last second, the marmot veered off the trail and detoured around us before disappearing into the bushes.  Beyond Sperry Chalet, we enjoyed dung-free hiking all the way up to Lincoln Pass where we turned right and followed a beaten path without difficulty to the summit of Lincoln Peak.

Given the numerous hikers we encountered on the trail including several at Lincoln Pass, I was a little surprised that we had the summit all to ourselves.  Regardless, Kelly and I were very pleased with the far-reaching views granted by this relatively low peak, and despite a cool breeze, we hung out at the summit for 50 minutes before commencing our descent.  On our way out, we were pleasantly surprised to see a family of goats--papa, mama, and baby--near the bridge over Sprague Creek.  Like the goats near Logan Pass, these ones had little fear of people and let us get pretty close to them.  Besides one clumsy spill on my part due to fatigue and inattention, the rest of our return trip was fairly mundane.  We ate pizza at Jammer Joe's Grill and Pizzeria near the trailhead before returning to our campsite to retire for the night.
You'll appreciate the shade later in the day on the way back! The trail winds its way through forest for the first several kilometres.
I would avoid drinking the water downstream from the ford... Kelly stops to take photographs from the bridge over Snyder Creek.  Crystal Ford (for horses) is just slightly upstream of the bridge.
Lotsa switchbacks around here! The trees begin to thin out as the trail gains elevation.
Watch out for that first step off the porch! Sperry Chalet can be seen perched atop cliffs on the opposite side of the valley.
The peak ahead is the southwest outlier of Gunsight Mountain. Kelly heads further up the valley.  The trail winds around to the forest on the right.
Not the same marmot that came bounding down the trail to greet us! At the trail junction for Comeau Pass, a young hoary marmot comes out for a peek at passing hikers.
The prepackaged sandwich I bought in St. Mary's sucked. I should have bought a sandwich here instead! Kelly approaches the dining room of Sperry Chalet.
Okay, so it's no Mount Everest, but a named peak is a named peak! Kelly continues along the trail toward Lincoln Peak.
More switchbacks...sigh. The trail rises gently below the northwest side of Lincoln Peak.
Kelly was hungry and stopped to eat a peanut butter sandwich here. Edwards Mountain is prominently visible throughout the ascent from Sperry Chalet to Lincoln Peak.
We ran into a lot of hikers here coming from Gunsight Pass. Mount Jackson is visible to the east from Lincoln Pass.
The southwest outlier of Gunsight Mountain looks like an interesting scramble... Kelly climbs up from Lincoln Pass.  At left is Edwards Mountain, and at right is the southwest outlier of Gunsight Mountain.
No route-finding required! The north ridge of Lincoln Peak presents no serious difficulties.
Almost there. Kelly bypasses some daunting rock outcrops.
We finally made it! Kelly and Sonny stand atop Lincoln Peak (2260 metres).
Mon dieu...we have a long walk to get back... Lake McDonald is the most striking feature to the west.
Stanton looks like a pretty straightforward scree slog. Stanton Mountain and the Mount Brown Lookout are visible to the northwest behind the intervening ridge.
There is a lot to explore in this area. Edwards Mountain towers above Sperry Chalet (lower centre).
The Sperry Glacier is unfortunately hidden from this vantage point.  

The southwest outlier of Gunsight Mountain dominates the view to the northeast.

It would have been nice to see all of the lake, but this is not too shabby... The eastern view includes Mount Jackson and Lake Ellen Wilson.  Gunsight Pass is also visible at far left.
Mount Jackson's true summit is actually not visible here. Here is a closer look at Mount Jackson.
This view made the long trip worthwhile! This is a more comprehensive view to the east which includes Lincoln Lake (lower right).
It's about a 370-metre drop between the two lakes. Beaver Chief Falls delivers water from Lake Ellen Wilson to Lincoln Lake.


That would be one helluva dive!

Lincoln Lake sits over 800 metres below the summit of its namesake peak.


A very long trail leads to a backcountry campground at this lake, but I would bet it's not too popular. Besides Lincoln Lake, the southeast view includes Walton Mountain (upper left).
But I don't wanna leave! Kelly descends back to Lincoln Pass.
Would be a great after-dinner hike from the chalet. Here is a last look at Lincoln Peak from near Sperry Chalet.
I can get free meals working at a petting zoo?? A male mountain goat appears to have an astonished look on his face.
Time to set your mind and body on cruise control... Kelly hikes past some blocky terrain on her way back to the trailhead.
Fast hikers could probably do the round-trip in less than 9 hours. Total Distance:  24.6 kilometres (approximate)*
Round-Trip Time:  10 hours 51 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1228 metres

* Because GPS signals were spotty for much of the forested sections of the trail, I measured a round-trip distance of 20.4 kilometres using MapSource's Distance Tool.  According to, the total one-way distance to Lincoln Peak is 7.7 miles which equates to a round-trip distance of 24.6 kilometres.  I believe this figure to be more accurate and possibly even slightly conservative.