Hiking in Glacier National Park
With 730 mi of marked trails, Glacier is a hiker's paradise. Trail maps are available at all visitor centers and entrance stations. Before hiking, ask about trail closures due to bear or mountain lion activity. Never hike alone. For backcountry hiking, pick up a permit from park headquarters or the Apgar Backcountry Permit Center near Glacier's west entrance (406/888-7939).
Avalanche Lake Trail. From Avalanche Creek Campground, take this 3-mile trail leading to mountain-ringed Avalanche Lake. The walk is relatively easy (it ascends 500 feet), making this one of the most accessible backcountry lakes in the park. Crowds fill the parking area and trail during July and August and on sunny weekends in May and June. Easy. Trailhead across from Avalanche Creek Campground, 15 mi north of Apgar on Going-to-the-Sun Rd., Glacier National Park, MT.
Baring Falls. For a nice family hike, try the 1.3-mile path from the Sun Point parking area. It leads to a spruce and Douglas fir wood; cross a log bridge over Baring Creek and you arrive at the base of gushing Baring Falls. Easy. Trailhead 11 mi east of Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Rd. at the Sun Point parking area, Glacier National Park, MT.
Hidden Lake Nature Trail. This uphill, 1½-mile trail runs from Logan Pass southwest to Hidden Lake Overlook, from which you get a beautiful view of the lake and McDonald Valley. In spring, ribbons of water pour off the rocks surrounding the lake. Easy. Trailhead directly behind Logan Pass Visitor Center, Glacier National Park, MT.
Trail of the Cedars. This wheelchair-accessible, ½-mile boardwalk loop through an ancient cedar and hemlock forest is a favorite of families with small children and people with disabilities. Interpretive signs describe the habitat and natural history of the rain forest. Easy. Trailhead across from Avalanche Creek Campground, 15 mi north of Apgar on Going-to-the-Sun Rd., Glacier National Park, MT.
Highline Trail. From the Logan Pass parking lot, hike north along the Garden Wall and just below the craggy Continental Divide. Wildflowers dominate the 7.6 miles to Granite Park Chalet, a National Historic Landmark, where hikers with reservations can overnight. Return to Logan Pass along the same trail or hike down 4½ miles (a 2,500-foot descent) on the Loop Trail. Moderate. Trailhead at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, Glacier National Park, MT.
Iceberg Lake Trail. This moderately strenuous 9-mile round-trip hike passes the gushing Ptarmigan Falls, then climbs to its namesake, where icebergs bob in the chilly mountain loch. Mountain goats hang out on sheer cliffs above, bighorn sheep graze in the high mountain meadows, and grizzly bears dig for glacier lily bulbs, grubs, and other delicacies. Rangers lead hikes here almost daily in summer, leaving at 8:30 am. Moderate. Trailhead at the Swiftcurrent Inn parking lot off Many Glacier Rd., Glacier National Park, MT.
Grinnell Glacier Trail. The strenuous 5½-mile hike to Grinnell Glacier, the park's largest and most accessible glacier, is marked by several spectacular viewpoints. You start at Swiftcurrent Lake's picnic area, climb a moraine to Lake Josephine, then climb to the Grinnell Glacier overlook. Halfway up, turn around to see the prairie land to the northeast. You can shortcut the trail by 2 miles each way by taking two scenic boat rides across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. From July to mid-September, a ranger-led hike departs from the Many Glacier Hotel boat dock most mornings at 8:30. Difficult. Trail begins at Lake Josephine boat dock, Glacier National Park, MT.
Sun Point Nature Trail. This short, 1.3-mile well-groomed trail allows you to walk along the cliffs and shores of picturesque St. Mary Lake. There is a stunning waterfall at the end of the hike. You may choose to hike one-way and take a boat transfer back. Easy. Trailhead 11 miles east of Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Rd. at Sun Point parking area, Glacier National Park, MT.
Two Medicine Valley Trails. One of the least-developed areas of Glacier, the lovely southeast corner of the park is a good place for a quiet day hike, although you should look out for signs of bears. The trailhead to Upper Two Medicine Lake and Cobalt Lake begins west of the boat dock and camp supply store where you can make arrangements for a boat pick-up or drop-off across the lake. Difficult. Trailhead is west of the boat dock and camp supply store at Two Medicine Campground, 9 mi west of Rte. 49, Glacier National Park, MT.
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