Glacier National Park is one of the top hiking destinations in the United States. It’s simple to see why, with over 700 miles of hiking trails!
Glacier National Park is noted for its stunning alpine beauty, abundant animals, and glaciers. However, to visit all of these sights, you must leave the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road and embark on a journey!
The top treks in Glacier National Area are highlighted in this piece, as well as the best time to visit, how to get about the park, and what to bring.
Hiking in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in Montana, just south of the US-Canada border.
Millions of visitors climb the park’s 50-day hiking trails each year, making it one of the top things to do in Glacier National Park. Hiking trails lead to waterfalls, lakes, mountain ridges, and, yes, even glaciers!
Glacier National Park offers hiking paths for all abilities, including ADA-accessible nature walks. Simply mentioned, Glacier National Park is one of the best destinations in the United States to visit!
St. Mary and Virginia Falls
When most people think of Glacier National Park, they think of glaciers and lakes. Glacier, on the other hand, has some spectacular waterfall hikes! St. Mary and Virginia Falls are two of the most popular waterfall hikes.
You’ll descend through a forest that was burned in a recent wildfire from the St. Mary Trailhead along Going-to-the-Sun Road. The bare woods provide unobstructed views of St. Mary Lake ahead and are an excellent area for spotting deer.
Virginia Falls is the taller and more impressive of the two waterfalls. Before returning to Going-to-the-Sun Road, you can unwind with a snack here.
Trail of the Cedars
Trail of the Cedars is a trail that may be accessed from Going-to-the-Sun Road. You may walk through some of the park’s oldest growth trees on an elevated boardwalk. You can pause and read the informational exhibits about the area’s history as you walk.
This trail is ideal for families or anyone looking for a short, easy stroll. This is the park’s easiest trail, thus it’s always popular. To obtain a parking spot at Avalanche Picnic Area, arrive early in the morning.
Redrock Falls is a somewhat less-traveled trail in Many Glacier that runs along with a series of lakes. The great trek for those hoping to spot animals, Redrock Falls is sometimes overshadowed by the more arduous walks in the area. The peaceful walk winds its way around Fishercap Lake and Redrock Lake before arriving at Redrock Falls. Take the time to look for moose at both lakes. Moose and their calves frequent these waters as a source of food.
Swift Current Mountain is seen from this trail. On a clear day, you might be able to see the top of the fire tower!
Although Baring Falls is close to St. Mary Falls, it receives fewer visitors. Choose Baring Falls for a less crowded but equally magnificent waterfall walk. You’ll begin your descent to the falls at the Sunrift Gorge Pullout on Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The falls will be stronger earlier in the summer owing to snowmelt, so come early to enjoy them. If you can’t find parking at Sunrift Gorge, you can hike from Sun Point to Baring Falls.
Baring Falls is a 1.6-mile round way hike from the Sun Point Nature Trail.
Hidden Lake Overlook
Hidden Lake Overlook is one of Glacier National Park’s most popular treks. Behind the Logan Pass, Visitor Center is where the hike begins.
Hidden Lake is reached through a moderately flat boardwalk trail that winds over wide meadows. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots have all been spotted in this area. Hidden Lake Overlook has a wonderful view of Hidden Lake and is a great place to see the sunrise or sunset.
Continue the climb down to the shores of Hidden Lake for a unique perspective. Fewer hikers make it this far, and it can be a welcome respite.
Due to its remoteness from Going to the Sun Road, only a few hikers choose to visit Two Medicine. Those that drive an hour to Two Medicine, however, will be rewarded with the ideal location for a peaceful sunrise hike.
The Paradise Point trail runs along the shore of Two Medicine Lake and begins near the Two Medicine General Store.
The sparkling waters of Two Medicine Lake mirror the surrounding mountains and the morning sky’s pinks and purples at daybreak. The short walk to Paradise Point is a great opportunity to catch the sunrise and get your day started.
Granite Park via Highline Trail
The Highline Trail is one of Glacier National Park’s most popular hikes. There are spectacular vantage spots, undulating hills, and plenty of possibilities to spot wildlife along this walk.
The hike begins at Logan Pass Visitor Center and concludes at The Loop, making it a one-of-a-kind experience. You’ll reach the Garden Wall after hiking over Going-to-the-Sun Road and through verdant slopes.
The Garden Wall trek leads to a stunning overlook of both the McDonald Valley and the Grinnell Glacier after a short but arduous hike up the mountain.
On this walk, keep a lookout for mountain goats and marmots. Take the free park shuttle from The Loopback to Logan Pass Visitor Center at the end of the trek.
Avalanche Lake is named from the avalanche chutes that surround it. The boardwalk Trail of the Cedars is where the trail to Avalanche Lake begins. You’ll walk among some of the park’s oldest trees, as well as mossy green woodlands and ferns.
Keep an eye out for deer and wild mushrooms while hiking. The avalanche chutes and several long waterfalls running down the mountain may be seen from the shores of Avalanche Lake.
Continue down the shores of Avalanche Lake to the far south end for a spectacular vantage point.
There are several alpine lakes in Glacier National Park, but Iceberg Lake is one of the nicest. This lake is noted for its year-round icebergs that float through it.
For the first five miles, the trail begins at Swift current Motor Inn and passes through dense brush and shrubbery. Bears frequently eat huckleberries in this area as they prepare for their winter hibernation.
Iceberg Lake’s shores are the ideal spot for a picnic and a quiet afternoon.
If you want to see more of Glacier National Park, you can combine this hike with the hikes to Ptarmigan Falls and Ptarmigan Tunnel.
Grinnell Glacier is a hike that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s one of the few pathways in the park that allows you to get up and personalize with the area’s famous glaciers.
The trek begins at the Many Glacier Hotel and follows Swift current Lake and Lake Josephine. This is the best area to see a bear or moose in the early morning.
The trail ascends over 2,000 feet to Upper Grinnell Lake’s cold blue water. Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier may both be seen from here. Take a dip in the near-freezing glacier waters if you’re feeling courageous.
Glacier Park Boat Company offers a boat cruise over Swift current Lake and Lake Josephine to shorten the journey. Although the boat tour saves you almost 3 kilometers, it does not eliminate any of the elevation gains.
Before Hiking in Glacier National Park, Here’s What You Should Know
- Always keep a look on Glacier National Park’s website for trail conditions. Trail closures might occur due to inclement weather, fires, or bear activity.
- For the greatest hiking conditions, visit Glacier National Park between late June and early September.
- When trekking in Glacier National Park, always have bear spray. Bear spray should be kept in an easily accessible area, such as a hip belt or backpack chest strap. You can rent it at the airport or buy it when you arrive at a local outdoor store.
- Start your day early to avoid crowds and ensure a parking spot at the trailheads. Plan to start your hikes at 8 a.m. each day.
- Always adhere to the “leave no trace” rules, which include taking out all food and garbage, staying on the marked track, and leaving wildflowers in their natural habitat.
Glacier National Park: How to Get There?
The closest airport is in Kalispell’s Glacier Park International Airport. It takes 30 minutes to go to the park from here.
Driving from the airport to the park is the best option. At Glacier Park Airport, you can choose from a variety of car rental providers.
One of the best-hiking destinations in the United States is Glacier National Park. However, there is so much to see and do that it might be overwhelming!
Glacier National Park should be visited for at least three days. Spend a week in Glacier National Park for the best hiking experience.
This will allow you to spread out your hikes and take in everything the park has to offer.
Whichever trails you select, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and wildlife at every turn!