Avalanche Lake Trail, the route for one of Glacier National Park’s most popular day hikes, is getting a facilities upgrade.
Part of the park’s approximately $178 million backlog of deferred maintenance, the Avalanche comfort station (the restrooms near the paved lower portion of the trail) will get new plumbing fixtures, restroom accessories, toilet partitions, doors, hardware, paint and entrances next year.
The Glacier National Park Conservancy helped secure the $77,776 needed to fund the project. It was donated by John and Sarah Graves, a Flathead couple who also helped fund the recent rehabilitation of Trail of the Cedars, one of their favorite places in the park.
Mark Preiss, Conservancy chief executive officer and president, said the project is a top priority for the park since it is one of the most heavily used facilities due to its the accessibility from Going-to-the-Sun Road. Beginning at the Trail of the Cedars, the trail winds along Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Lake.
“This is one of the projects where we want to look at how we can apply these best practices and technology,” Preiss said, adding that the water conservation standards in the new plumbing and natural light provided by solar tubes can serve as a model for future upgrades.
After the work is completed, revegetation around the station will use native plant species from the park’s native plant nursery.
Preiss said the project serves as a front-country complement to many of the backcountry improvements the fundraising organization has supported, such as installing bear-proof storage containers and rehabilitating the Belly River Ranger Station — the park’s only active ranger station that not accessible by road.
“We’re always looking at that blend of strategic investments,” Preiss said. “When you get off the road and out to that lake, and you see that viewshed, you’re really having a backcountry experience.”
Reporter Samuel Wilson can be reached at 758-4407 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.