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another "gem" of a lake in Glacier Park
Option A for hike description: Take the boat (Morning Star) from the dock in front of the Many Glacier Hotel ($22 RT as of 2011). You will cruise to the other end of Swiftcurrent Lake and then walk up a hill (1/4 mile) to Lake Josephine where another boat (Morning Eagle) waits to take you to the other end. From there, you start your hike to the shore of Grinnell Lake or Lower Grinnell Lake as there is a little lake up by Grinnell Glacier also called Grinnell Lake, or Upper Grinnell Lake.
The trail starts at the boat dock/Oastler Shelter (for inclement weather). You will follow along Cataract Creek in a sub-alpine forest for about 1/2 mile to a one-person suspension bridge over the creek with Hidden Falls to your left. You can only see Hidden Falls from the trail a little before and after the bridge and from the bridge.
Hidden Falls is a small water fall a short distance off the main trail to Lake Grinnell. There is a slight uphill section to get to the falls. The falls is tucked away up a small canyon. Because the falls is more or less hidden (thus its name) it is difficult to get a good view of it.
A good portion of the trail from here between Lake Josephine and Lower Grinnell Lake is on raised plank bridges above water runoff from surrounding mountains. You will encounter a trail intersection where you can head up to Feather Plume Falls and/or Piegan Pass.
The trail ends at a small beach on the spectacular Lower Lake Grinnell (George Bird Grinnell was an early explorer and conservationist). This is a crystal clear alpine lake that is fed by melting glaciers. Mount Gould rises high above it. Grinnell Falls (to the west) comes from Upper Lake Grinnell which sits below Salamander and Grinnell Glaciers. They do not fall directly into lower Lake Grinnell. You can't quite see the turqoise look of the water like you can from above so if you've got a mind to, hike one of the best hikes in the park: the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
This is just another of the wonderfully short hikes one can take to a sub-alpine lake in Glacier Park. Oh, and the planks make it interesting and fun.
Option B: You can take this hike from the Many Glacier Hotel which takes you along Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes (about 6.5 miles RT as you can hike back a different direction around Josephine Lake). It starts at the Grinnell Glacier TH parking lot. Your hike from here is out in the woods (with a view of Swiftcurrent Lake and Many Glacier hotel as you get to the other end of Swiftcurrent Lake) until the boat dock. You go up the same paved path as the boaters and then go to your left when you reach the boat dock at Lake Josephine. You will hike on a trail through a bit of vegetation and eventually the trail will merge with the Lake Grinnell trail.
And as always, be mindful of bears.
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