10 Great Hikes in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Glacier National Park in Montana, USA is an integral component and the largest part of the world’s first International Peace Park with Waterton Lakes National Park representing a smaller, but no less spectacular part in southwest Alberta, Canada.   It is where prairies meet mountains.  Both connected parks host breathtaking scenery.  Click on the titles for a link to the specific journal post.

Cracker Lake

The hike from Many Glacier Hotel to Cracker Lake is a return distance of 13 miles (21 KM) with about 1,600 ft. (488 m) of gross elevation to Cracker Lake and the long-abandoned Cracker Lake MineCracker Lake is hidden until reaching the final ridge.  The vibrant color of the lake will stop you in your tracks.  The long access is definitely worth the breathtaking impact of the moment.  Siyeh Wall, with the much diminished Siyeh Glacier hanging below the summit, serves as dramatic background to Cracker Lake.  There are lots of places to explore at the far end of Cracker Lake.

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Flats on the hiking trail to Cracker Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Amazing view of the Siyeh Wall just prior to the first breathtaking view of Cracker Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Cracker Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A sunbeam on Cracker Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glacier

The Grinnell Glacier hike is a round trip hike of 11.9 miles (19 KM) and 1,585 ft. (483 m) of net elevation.  Rolling land and additional effort will place gross elevation near 2,100 ft. (640 m).  Vistas are continuous and spectacular within the valley along the lower reaches of Grinnell Point and Mount Grinnell.  Near trail’s end, there is a steep climb over an ancient lateral moraine to arrive at the outlook.  This is a must-do hike in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park.

Grinnell Glacier, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glacier in the distance above Lower Grinnell Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glacier, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Lower Grinnell Lake on the hiking trail to Grinnell Glacier in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glacier, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Foreground bear grass looking back along the string of lakes in Grinnell Valley on the hike to Grinnell Glacier in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glacier, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Glaciers above Grinnell Falls in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Avalanche Lake

Near the far end of Trail of the Cedars, the trail to Avalanche Lake trail branches off to the right.  It is a touristy, well-travelled, wide trail of 5 miles (8 KM) round trip over rolling land with easy, estimated gross elevation of 1,000 ft. (304 M).  The trail travels south-east along Avalanche Creek through incredible, mature forest past huge, glacier-deposited boulders and moss draperies.

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

One view of lumber debris at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Ptarmigan Tunnel

The moderate day hike from Swiftcurrent Inn to Ptarmigan Tunnel is a round trip distance of 10 miles (16 KM) with an elevation gain of 2,480 ft. (756 m) to a maximum elevation of  7,200 ft. (2,195 m).  The views from Ptarmigan Wall are breathtaking from the switchbacks above Ptarmigan Lake.  The 250 ft. Ptarmigan Tunnel was blasted through the north-east end of the wall, just below the ridge summit to provide horse traffic access from Many Glacier to Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River Valley.  The trail continues several miles through to, and beyond, the Canadian border.

Ptarmigan_Tunnel, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

The view back to Ptarmigan Lake on the hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Ptarmigan_Tunnel, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

The view of Elizabeth Lake and the Belly River Valley from the far side of Ptarmigan Tunnel in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Iceberg Lake

The round trip hike to Iceberg Lake is 9.5 miles (15.2 KM) with gross elevation of about 1,250 ft. (381 m).  The hike progresses alternatively through forested areas and open spaces offering spectacular vistas.  The first view of Iceberg Lake is spectacular.  Glacial flour makes the color of the water milky-blue.  Iceberg Lake, at 6,100 ft. (1,860 m), is tucked away in a north-east facing cirque and receives little sunlight throughout the year.  It remains frozen over until late spring and early in the season the lake is often banked with snow and congested with floating ice including icebergs from calving glaciers.

Iceberg Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

The view to Ptarmigan Wall on the approach to Iceberg Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Iceberg Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Iceberg Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Iceberg Lake, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Unnamed emerald tarn on the retreat from Iceberg Lake in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Valley

The hike from Many Glacier Hotel passes the south shore of Swiftcurrent Lake, tiny Stump Lake and Lake Josephine.  Scenery is stunning and terrain is lush and varied with the final push to Grinnell Falls on raised platform over running water.  The constant proximity to water is embellished by views of mountains around and glaciers above at the end of Grinnell Valley.  The reward is relaxing emerald water and a waterfall at the end of Lower Grinnell Lake.  There are many trail options.

Grinnell Valley, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

The early morning view across Swiftcurrent Lake on the hike through Grinnell Valley in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Valley, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Grinnell Falls across Lower Grinnell Lake at the end of Grinnell Valley Grinnell Valley in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Morning Eagle Falls

Morning Eagle Falls (aka Feather Plume Falls) can be accessed from Grinnell Valley or more directly on the Piegan Pass Trail.  The worthy hiking goals include creeks of crystal water flowing over brightly colored stone, lush forest surrounded by towering mountains and a magnificent waterfall with trail options to continue over the Continental Divide.  Heavy horse traffic can compromise the trail condition in wet weather.

Morning Eagle Falls, Many Glacier, Glacier national Park, Montana, USA

The approach to Morning Eagle Falls, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Morning Eagle Falls, Many Glacier, Glacier national Park, Montana, USA

Morning Eagle Falls, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Pass

The round trip hike to the end of  Swiftcurrent Valley is 7 miles (11.2 KM) with elevation of 275 ft. (84 m). Extending the hike to Swiftcurrent Pass changes the profile to 13.4 miles (21.6 KM) and 2,200 ft. (670 m) of elevation.  The scenery is beautiful with long vistas over fascinating terrain, particularly as elevation is gained.  There are a wide variety of features along this trail.  It is a must do hike, and a truly memorable experience beginning at Swiftcurrent Inn in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park.

Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Redrock Falls, Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

The view back to Swiftcurrent Lake along the hiking trail to Swiftcurrent Pass in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Glacier on the hike to Swiftcurrent Pass in, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A beautiful but hidden cascading waterfall on the hike to Swiftcurrent Pass in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Swiftcurrent Pass, Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Moose at the shoreline of Fishercap Lake on the hike to Swiftcurrent Pass in Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Highline Trail – Garden Wall

The Highline Trail originates at 6,646 ft. (2,025 m) Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road.  The trail tracks the steep wall just below the summits of the Continental Divide.  The Garden Wall is lush.  The western side of the Continental Divide receives far more precipitation and plants are abundant on the steep walls above and below the trail.  Waterfalls occur often and traverse the trail.  The wow factor is high.  Wildlife is abundant.  This is an easy hike and one of the most popular in Glacier National Park.

Highline_Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

View along the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A furry friend near Haystack Butte on the hike along the Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Scenic Point

The moderately strenuous hike to Scenic Point begins near Two Medicine Lake and is 7.2 miles (11.6 KM) return with a net elevation gain of 2,242 ft. (701 m).  The good trail switchbacks up the flank of Mount Henry with increasingly spectacular views of Appistoki Mountain and Valley as well as Rising Wolf Mountain and Two Medicine Lakes.  From Scenic Point, on a clear day, the view extends over 100 miles (160 KM) to the Sweetgrass Hills.

Scenic Point, Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A view of Appistoki Valley from Mount Henry on the hike to Scenic Point in Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Scenic Point, Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A view to Rising Wolf Mountain looming over Lower Two Medicine Lake on the hike to Scenic Point in Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

Scenic Point, Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A view from Scenic Point in Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A Falcon Guide titled, ‘Hiking Glacier and Waterton National Park’ by Erik Molvar is an excellent reference for Glacier National Park in Montana.

For any trail you choose to hike, please, carry a map, consult and carry a good hiking guide, and obtain current trail conditions and forecasted weather from the Visitor Centre.  Tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be there.  On completion, let them know you have completed your day hike to avoid potentially expensive search parties leaving to look for you.

Stay safe.  Carry layers and pack everything  you may need to enjoy a great day.

Adventuring is a means to express one’s inner self.  Anonymous

From Summit Stones and Adventure Musings by DSD

 

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6 Responses to 10 Great Hikes in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

  1. Andra says:

    I have already been to Glacier National Park three times and have hiked most of the hikes you listed, even though, after reading your post you have reminded me how much I love that Park and now I want to go back for a fourth visit.

    • Thanks for your comment, Andra. Glacier National Park, Montana is a great park. Even though glacial ice is forecast to be gone within 20 years, the park harbors magnificent wilderness and some of the best designed and maintained trails I have ever seen. Over several decades I hiked quite a bit in the American Southwest. I remember clearing Coutts, driving through Montana prairie and looking over at the mountains to the west and saying ‘Gotta get over there one day’. It took me 25 years but I have been back several times in the past decade. It is a great park and there is huge cooperation between Canadian and US Parks. It is quite impressive actually. The four corners of Glacier National Park are independently unique and somewhat reminiscent of the diversity in Yellowstone National Park, not too much further south. I still have some hiking to do in the Two Medicine quadrant of East Glacier. If anyone asked me, I would recommend the Many Glacier and Two Medicine regions be visited first for the fit and more dedicated hikers. Each area also contains hikes for casual, new or young hikers. Hope my photos in Glacier brought back some great memories of your experience there, Andra. Thanks for staying in touch.

  2. Helen says:

    So much beauty waiting to be explored!
    I’m not sure if you have seen my blog [encouraged by Andra] so will copy and paste.

    http://outandabout3.blogspot.com.au/

    • Wow! Bravo Helen! Very impressive and love your photographs of wildlife and habitat in Australia. Please keep up the outstanding work. I have placed your site on my list of favorites. I was unaware you and Andra, of Making Waves, were acquaintances. I have a high regard for Andra’s work as well and often use her posts and GPS maps for reference. I have not met her but I believe we may have been cut from the same cloth, albeit, in my case, about 40 or 50 years earlier. Thanks for your comment, Helen, and welcome to our community.

  3. Perry says:

    Great write up, Barry! Love all these trails! Thanks for including my site as a reference!

    Best regards,

    Perry

    • There are a couple of sites I routinely reference for Montana hikes on my blog but, on this summary, I looked further for an additional quality reference and it is my opinion your effort is more than worthy as a quality reference for the incredible experiences available in Montana’s Glacier National Park. There is a Canadian Glacier National Park in British Columbia between Golden and Revelstoke. It is much smaller and profoundly different than the Montana experience. Glacier National Park in Canada is more vertical and rugged but, in my humble opinion, equally spectacular in different ways. If you are travelling that way, I would recommend doing a few trails around Rogers Pass. Thank you for your comment, Parry.

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