Just east of the Avalanche Creek Campground in Glacier National Park is the Trail of the Cedars. Although at just 0.8 of a mile it can hardly be called a hike, this canopied stroll is one of the prettiest in the park.
With barely an incline and a mixture of boardwalk and paved path, the Trail of the Cedars is one of the easiest to navigate. The looping trail sweeps through rich forests of cedar, hemlock and larch, and winds across Avalanche Gorge, a fierce creek whose waters spew through red argillite rock.
The inviting boardwalk is hard to resist sparking the desire to explore where it leads.
The Cherokee people believed that the Creator created a new tree to hold the spirits of their ancestors. This tree was named a-tsi-na tlu-gv (ah-see-na loo-guh), or the cedar tree. When you gaze upon it standing in the forest they said, remember that if you are Tsalagi, you are looking upon your ancestor.
Gnarled roots are caked within a packed forest floor showing centuries of growth. The oldest Cedar Trees are in Becharri, Northern Lebanon. Between 1000 and 2000 years old, they are some of the oldest trees on earth.
Up close, the tree's roots resemble the snake-headed monster from Greek mythology, the Gorgon Medusa.
The epicenter of the Trail of the Cedars and the final stop before the loop winds back to the road is Avalanche Gorge. Its myriad of colors enhanced by the light in parts and glossy moss-stippled argillite rock in others, is as beautiful as its gushing waters are loud.
With the hot summer this year the stunted water flow did nothing to diminish its lethal beauty. Slippery rocks combined with fast flows have been the downfall of several visitors enticed into having a closer look.
After visiting the gorge last April, we were able to witness the spring runoff at the height of its power.
Crystal glacier waters at the base of the gorge, are revealed only by the bubbles that dot the surface. This glimpse of the creek bed is rarely afforded, and comes on the tail end of a long, hot summer.
The Trail of the Cedars is an easy afternoon stroll located along Going to the Sun Road just east of the Avalanche Creek Campground. Even with photo opportunities, the hike should take no longer than an hour. A parking area across the street grants immediate access to the trail head which is one of the first areas to open in the park after the winter, and the last to close.