The Uncommon Loon – Guided Educational Program

Showcases seeing Loons that call Glacier National Park home

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Distance

3 Miles

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Elevation Gain

500 Feet

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Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

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Cost Per Person

$175

Hike Overview

July 2, 2023: This course will focus on the unique creature that calls many of the lakes in Glacier National Park home. Through this course, we will learn about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color, and other adaptations. We will spend time exploring the premier loon habitat in Glacier, with participants walking away with the knowledge and admiration that these birds are indeed uncommon.

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The Uncommon Loon – Guided Educational Program

Hike Overview Continued

Instructor Denny Olson

This course will focus on the unique creature that calls many of the lakes in Glacier National Park home. Through this course we will learn about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color and other adaptations. We will spend time exploring premier loon habitat in Glacier National Park, with participants walking away with the knowledge and admiration that these birds are indeed uncommon.

Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp

Itinerary: (subject to change due to trail closures and weather)
At 7 a.m. we will begin with an introduction to basic loon natural history and ecology. We will then load up in the Glacier Institute vehicles and head out into the field to Winona Lake, on the Glacier National Park Inside North Fork Road. You will learn about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color and other adaptations. This is about the time when chicks normally hatch at this site, so we will be watching through spotting scopes at a respectful distance. As a bonus, our Glacier Institute field outing offers the possibility of seeing hawk owls, Great Gray Owls, and Black-backed Woodpeckers – three rare, sought-after species. Our Glacier Institute Instructor will also discuss nesting habitat, site selection and chick rearing. Next, we will drive to Hidden Meadow for lunch in the field and for an opportunity to study vocalizations, mating behaviors, management concerns and connections of loons to other species. The instructor will share his favorite Native American Loon Story. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.

Food: Please bring a trail lunch, plenty of water, and snacks for the day.

Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280

Equipment: You will receive a Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once your register. Most importantly, bring comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2-liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Binoculars and/or a spotting scope will be helpful if you have them as well as your favorite guidebooks and a field journal.

Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. We will be hiking less than three miles and up to 1,000 feet elevation gain to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to listen for, observe and identify loons.

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What to Expect On Your The Uncommon Loon | Guided Day Hike

We will spend the day learning about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color and other adaptations. The hike will be less than three miles and up to 500 feet elevation change, stopping frequently to listen for, observe and identify loons.

Hike Details

  • This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier
  • Instructor Denny Olson
  • The program will begin 7 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Hiking distance covers less than 3 miles with up to 500 feet elevation change.
  • On-site parking available.
  • There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
  • This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.

What to Bring

Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.

  • Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
  • 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
  • Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
  • Camera (optional)
  • Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Field Notebook notes and sketches

Download complete checklist here