Best Hikes in Glacier National Park: Guide 2022

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Guide to the best hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, established in 1910, is a picturesque wildlife area situated in the northern Rocky Mountains in northwest Montana, U.S, connecting Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park and the Canadian Border.

Both parks were combined in 1932 and referred to as the world’s first international peace park, and in 1995, UNESCO identified it as one of its World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.

The park is a mini-ecosystem enclosing various animals, plants, aquamarine lakes, scenery, mountains. This vast ecosphere is also called the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.” In 2019, this National Park marked the 10th most visited park.

Almost 3.3 million people visit this place annually. Each year millions of visitors come to the park for 50-day hiking trails.

Glacier National Park
By: jovannig. Unlimphotos.copyright2022

The Glacier National Park has glacier-carved valleys and mountains for more than 1 million acres, heading to the Canadian border.

These mountains and the surrounding areas were carved with the glaciers two million years ago, giving it the title Glacier National Park. Mountains in this region originated almost 170 million years ago when the rocks in the eastern sides had to move eastward and over to the rocks in the lowest layer.

By the mid-19th century, the Little Ice Age, if the park had 150 glaciers, by 2010 when reports came out, only 25 active glaciers were present. Based on this report, scientists declared if such climate conditions continue to prevail, all the active glaciers will also vanish.

Visit Glacier National Park

Significant places in Glacier Park

The Glacier National Park creates a continental drift by splitting the ridge of the Rocky Mountains, creating westward (to the Pacific Ocean) and eastward (to Mississippi River and Hudson Bay) drainage systems.

Just like this, there are numerous other views available here. Numerous trails are present here, and even disabled people can enter some of them because walkways are there for them.

1. The Going-to-the-Sun Road

19643538 glacier national park going to the sun road
By: fisfra. Unlimphotos. copyright2022

The 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps Workers during the Great Depression in 1932, is a must-visit spot of the National Park. Later, designated as the National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, this place has a lot to see and experience.

From wherever you start, Mary Lake in the East or Lake McDonald in the West, you will be tired as you reach the summit. How to explore this is a challenging task but not impossible.

Travel tips to follow while exploring Going-to-the-Sun Road:

  1. Begin the journey early.
  2. Learn the Route
  3. See Forward-Strategize according to the plan.
  4. Enough amount of fuel
  5. Conscious about the switching nature of weather.
  6. An extra amount of time to observe the beautiful sceneries.

Usually, this opens by the end of June or early July through mid-October. It depends upon the snowfall.

2. Logan Pass

21376274 logan pass
By: Unlimphotos.copyright2022

Logan Pass has connections to both Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Continental Divide. It is the highest point in the Road by 6466 feet and part of the Divide. The most stunning views are at the topmost part of the pass because the view from there is mesmerizing.

The presence of bighorn sheep, fields of wildflowers, rugged mountains, wildlife, mountain goats is the highlights. This place has a logan pass visitor center, where a visitor center and bookstore provide shelter for the chilly weather.

Logan is the epicentre of the best hikes and hiking trails-Animal Superhero Trail, 1.5-mile Nature Trail, Hidden Lake Trail, Highline Trail Hike.

3. Many Glacier

Many Glaciers is the most beautiful of all in the national park. Many fascinating views are present here, like waterfalls, lakes, dense coniferous forests, alpine meadows. Lake Josephine, Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake, Ptarmigan Tunnel, Apikuni Falls,

4. Two Medicine Lake Area

This area is a perfect place for day hikers to embark onto the backcountry. This place is less visited, yet it is a site for beautiful peaks, trails, waterfalls.

Hiking- Explore the beauty of a Country

Hiking is an activity of long walls, through trails, and uneven roads. It emerged in Europe during the eighteenth century.

What Are the Preparations for Hiking in Glacier National Park?

Hiking in Glacier National Park could be one heck of a day, so be aware of the prerequisites. So, improve your health conditions soon – stay fit, carry plenty of water, stay hydrated, make plans for the hike earlier, and follow the basic rules.

Key Factors to Know Before Hiking in Glacier National Park

  • Keep a thorough knowledge about the place.
  • Update trail status by regularly checking the Glacier National Park Website. The trail may be closed due to several reasons.
  • Don’t forget to carry bear spray while hiking in. Always keep it in an easily accessible place as it is available everywhere. You can buy it even from the shop nearer to the airport.
  • Begin the hiking by early 8, before the rush or crowd forms.
  • Never neglect the rules and regulations provided by them.
  • By any chance an animal comes in front of you, give them their space to go away. Always maintain a distance of 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 from other wildlife.
  • Temperatures can be fluctuating in the glaciers. So, always be in layers for comfort.

How to Reach the Glacier National Park

  • Try Skyscanner to know about flights and their prices.
  • Arrive at Glacier Park International Airport, Kalispell, Montana. It is 30 kms away from the National Park.
  • Then book a rental car. You will get it within minutes.

Where to Reside in The National Park?

Accommodations are available in and around the park. There are five in-park lodges, two hike-in, and two hike-out lodges. To reside in any of these, you have to make bookings a year in advance.

If all goes well, better live in Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. National Park also has arranged four campgrounds, and it would be the perfect place for budget travelers. The best of it would be Many Glacier or St. Mary.

People in groups or families can rent houses outside the Park in West Glacier or St. Mary.

When to Visit the Glacier National Park?

It is better to arrange your tour plan by late June and early September to experience the best hiking moments.

Also, if you want to avoid summer crowds, prefer to come after the 1st week of September.

How to Enter and Roam Around in Glacier National Park

To enter there, visitors need to buy a pass. $35 is a 7-day pass that gives the right to explore every corner.

The place also offers a free shuttle service, and the easiest way to get to the trailheads is by renting a car. Roads taking to Going-to-the-Sun Road might be difficult and windy, so vehicles around 20 feet are not allowed.

Best Hiking Spots

Easiest-Perfect for families

Baring Falls

  • Time Taken: 30 minutes
  • Distance: 0.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Sunrift Gorge

Baring Falls is one of the easily accessible waterfalls in the park, yet it is less crowded. Closer to Going-to-the-Sun Road, Mary Falls and Virginia Falls surpasses it.

The official trailhead begins from Sunrift Gorge, but it is also possible from Sunpoint, as it has enough parking space.

Grinnell Lake

  • Time Taken: 3 hours
  • Distance: 6.8 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Many Glacier Hotel
  • Animals: Bear and Moose

It is another easy trail of the National Park. Named after George Bird Grinnell, an explorer, Grinnell is one of the most photographed glaciers in the world. Starting from the Many Glacier Hotel, one will not only cross a single Glacier’s Lake but three of them.

As the trail begins its journey from the Many Glacier Hotel, it winds around Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. As you reach the destination, you will be mesmerized by the beauty of the lake, as it has crystal blue waters formed out of glacier runoff and an Upper Grinnell Lake. On the way, animals like bears and moose are present.

You can bring here an inflatable kayak to float. Due to glaciers retreating, Grinnell Glacier has reduced its size by more than 40%.

Redrock Falls

  • Time Taken: 1.5 hours
  • Distance: 3.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Trailhead
  • Animal: Moose

Starting from Swifcurrent Trailhead, it crosses Fishercap Lake and Redrock Lake and reaches its destination. It is a less-travelled trail, but if you are a fan of wildlife, this is the perfect spot for you.

Walking through these lakes would help spot moose, both mother and the baby feeding in the water. It is a beautiful sight. Remember not to disturb them.

Hikes in West Glacier-

McDonald Creek

  • Time Taken: 2 hours
  • Distance: 5.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Johns Lake Trailhead

Lake McDonald is a family-friendly trail which is the most tranquil one. The journey along this gives a peaceful satisfaction.

When others are not in action, the McDonald creek trail would be the perfect one to hike on for exploring. that too with the family. Avalanche creek outlook is closer to this.

Trail of Cedars

  • Time Taken: 30 minutes
  • Distance: 1.4 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Avalanche Creek Picnic Area

Trail of Cedars is famous for its broad walkway, accessible even for handicaps. It would provide a glimpse into the historic forest of Glacier National Park.

Avalanche Lake

best hikes in glacier national park
By: wirepec. Unlimphotos.copyright2022

  • Time Taken: 2.5 hours
  • Avalanche Lake Distance: 4.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Avalanche Creek Picnic Area
  • Animals & Plants: Deer, Wild Mushrooms

Setting off the trail from the Trail of Cedars, you enter into a forest, the oldest ones in the park left untouched by forest fires to date, avalanche lake.

The hike to an avalanche lake will never be an unforgettable journey as it inculcates into the human brain the beauty of nature. After crossing the Avalanche creek and the avalanche remains comes a beautiful lake nestled by snow-swept mountain peaks.

Sperry Chalet Trail

  • Time Taken: 6.5-9 hours
  • Distance: 19.2 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Sperry Trailhead
  • Animals: Horses, Goats

As it passes through the gunsight pass trail, the condition of the hike would be difficult as it passes through rough and steep terrain. Use good hiking shoes.

Hikes Along Going-to-the-Sun Road

Going-to-the-Sun Road joinsWest Glacier and Mary Lake. Some of the most popular trails in the park begin with this panoramic view.

Highline Trail

  • Time Taken: 8 hours
  • Distance: 11.8 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Animals: Mountain Goats, Marmots

It is one of the breathtaking viewpoints for rolling hills, wildlife, breathtaking vantage points. The trail started from Logan Pass Visitor Center, passing through a grassy valley, reaching Granite Park Chalet after 7.6 miles and then the Garden Wall.

As the journey begins near Logan Pass, a crucial moment comes in. The hikers encounter a short ledge that can cross, but a person afraid of heights must be mentally and physically prepared.

Buses are available to take the visitors back to their respective vehicles, as it is, a one-way hike.

Grinnell Glacier Overlook (The Garden Wall)

  • Time Taken: 1 hour
  • Distance: 1.8 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Along the Highline Trail

Commonly called the Garden Wall, a journey crossing the Highline Trail. As the name says, at the end of the trail, it takes you to a mountain range to admire the beauty of the Grinnell Glacier.

Hidden Lake Overlook

  • Time Taken: 1 hour
  • Distance: 2.8 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Animals: Bears, Marmots, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goats

Accepted as the top hikes in glacier national, this passes through grassy meadows till the vantage point overlooking the hidden lake. It is also one of the most crowded hikes of all. People desired to move towards hidden lake pass, crosses the alpine meadows to reach their destination.

Mary and Virginia Falls

  • Time Taken: 1.5 hours
  • Distance: 3.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: St. Mary Falls Trailhead
  • Animals: Deer

This place is a jackpot for two famous waterfalls. While travelling on the trail, a recently burned forest is spotted. It gives a clear view of Mary Lake, where Mary Falls are present. A deep bath in this lake is heaven. 0.8 miles above Mary Falls is Virginia Falls.

Hikes in Many Glacier

Among the hiking glaciers in Montana, Many Glacier has a great deal of scenic beauty. Classical trails like Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake are found here.

Cracker Lake

  • Time Taken: 6 hours
  • Distance: 12.8 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Many Glacier Hotel
  • Animals: Bear

Cracker Lake is a must-visit place as everything present there is exquisite, from clear, icy blue water to beautiful alpine lake and meadows. But before racing, you have to travel along a horse loop which won’t excite you much.

After passing it, beautiful scenery is present in front of your eyes. A lot of bears are visible, as it is less crowded when compared to the Grinnell Glacier. If you have done with other glacier national park hikes and are searching for a new one, this lake is the perfect place to hike next.

This place is the home for many bears, so do not forget to carry bear spray. Be conscious and make plenty of noises as you take twists and turns.

Also, there is a three-site campground which you can turn into a backpacking trip. Cracker Lake has the record of being the windiest spot of all, so it is better to bring an extra layer of clothing to remain warm.

Iceberg Lake

  • Time Taken: 5 hours
  • Iceberg Lake Distance: 9.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead
  • Animals: Bears

It is one of the best alpine lakes. The hiking trail moves 2.7 miles at first with the Ptarmigan tunnel. So as you cross through the tunnel, be aware of bears.

Always keep the bear spray in an easily accessible place and use it when necessary. Also, check the trail status, as it may be closed due to a bear encounter.

After the Ptarmigan tunnel trail, continue straight and, there is your destination. Explore the place. Teal waters present in Iceberg Lake even have icebergs floating in them, even during summers.

It is better to visit the lake early in the season because motionless icebergs in contrast with the blue colour of the water are present in those times. The presence of beautiful wildflower meadows and mountains makes the scene more exquisite.

Ptarmigan Tunnel & Lake

  • Time Taken: 6 hours
  • Distance: 10.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead

Ptarmigan Tunnel, a 250-foot tunnel built in the late 1930s, comes after Iceberg Lake passes through the ptarmigan wall.

As the trail reaches Iceberg lake, people split, and the crowd towards the tunnel would be less. Thus enjoy through the tunnel admiring the beauty of nature. Do not forget to admire the magnificence of Belly River Valley.

Swiftcurrent Pass

  • Time Taken: 9 hours
  • Distance: 13.6 miles longer
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Trailhead

It is the toughest of all trails. If you are a risk-taker, always put Swiftcurrent Pass in first. The journey begins near Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, leading to the Redrock Falls. Another route is available to reach here.

A hike to the Granite Park Chalet and down to the circle on Going-to-the-Sun Road would also take you to the Swiftcurrent Pass. After the waterfall, the trail rises thousands of feet, offering the finest sights in the world.

Hikes in The Two Medicine Lake

Pitamakan-Dawson Loop

Time Taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 17.2 miles longer

Trailhead: Two medicine lake

Paradise Point

Time Taken: 30 minutes

Distance: 1.4 miles longer

Once you go hiking, you will never return, especially from these parks. These are the best Glacier hikes at National Park.

The presence of many glacier valleys, mountains, and trails has improved the scenic beauty of the national park to a diverse level, providing stunning views.

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