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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Grinnell Lake, MT

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Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List MT > North Central
3.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,944 feet
Elevation Gain 50 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.25 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.25
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
26  2011-07-23 writelots
50  2011-07-23 tibber
44  2010-08-10
Piegan Pass
5  2009-08-17 gummo
Author tibber
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 574
Photos 25,551
Trips 838 map ( 10,398 miles )
Age 63 Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Sep, Jul, Aug
Seasons   Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  6:21am - 6:33pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
another "gem" of a lake in Glacier Park
by tibber

Likely In-Season!
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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2011-08-11 tibber
  • goat haunt map st mary map mcdonald map
    area related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Grinnell Lake
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3 Continued from part 1 of Many Glacier day, Part 2:

I didn't realize Gary's broken toe was giving him grief until we re-grouped at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. So we had 2 options, both involved Gary hanging out at the Many Glacier Lodge while we either did the trail ride :) or the Grinnell Lake hike :) . We opted for the Grinnell Lake hike so we dashed back to the Many Glacier Parking lot. I ran over and told the trail master we would not be joining them for the trail ride and then we headed down to catch the 3PM boat to the TH on the far side of Lake Josephine.

The boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake is always nice and this day would be no exception; other than our guide who's voice I could barely hear. Fortunately, I already knew a lot of the information so I just concentrated on getting movies and pics. By this time the sun was out with some high scattered clouds floating about.

Once you hit the other shoreline, you have to hike over a pretty good-sized hill. We were worried about one of the older tourists with a cane and though it took him a bit longer, he persevered : app : and joined us in the boat (Morning Eagle) on the other side. While we were waiting some ducks suddenly appeared on the water. They had been fishing and just popped up :o . It was quite the site. I got some of it on film but I was a little far away. 2.66 miles later at around 3:55 we arrived from the Swiftcurrent Lake dock at the opposite shore of Lake Josephine.
VIDEO of our boat ride, walk, boat ride to the Grinnell Lake TH:

And then the dash was on as we only had an hour to get back in time for the 5 PM boat. However, the worse case scenario is that we would have to walk back the 2.5 miles to the Lodge. The first part of the hike involves going through some forest. You do get a glimpse of Cataract Creek as it had overflowed its banks. Soon you come to the Hidden Falls suspension bridge which they had just replaced. First, I was suprised we came upon the Falls so fast as I thot they were beyond the lake and second, from this vantage point, being slightly hidden and all, they weren't quite that special but going across the bridge and trying to maintain my balance while filming them was. [-( :lol:

From there you follow the creek for a short bit until you come to some wooden plank walkways. Of course, the purpose of the planks is to keep you dry, which they did but this year they needed to re-route a good portion of this due to all of the snow. It's also an interesting moment when you encouter hikers going the opposite way as everyone has to maintain their balance either while waiting or while passing.

Wendy and I were impressed by the wild course of the creek since it had obviously blown its banks. By the looks of the trees, there had been some serious water action going on here. What surprised us was to see the remaining snow drifts as we approached the junction with the other trails that take you to some passes. And then right before you, as you come off the planks is a view of Grinnell Lake with the mountains rising up into the Garden Wall to the west and all of that water flying down, I mean falling down. IN credible :y: . Granted the color of this lake is nothing short of spectacular from above but here it was nice to be able to touch it; oh wait, I didn't touch it; but my boots did :lol: .

So we took it all in for a few minutes, got our pic taken in the "W" formation and then headed back. This is a case where you're glad you get to go back the way you came as we were trying to keep up a pretty good clip which as you may know, is a difficult task when "tibber" ;) is along. It was only us and another couple on the trail so it was nice to have our private moments with it. We grabbed a few more pics of Hidden Falls and going across the one-person suspension bridge and arrived back at the dock with a few minutes to spare. It was apparent, since we were the last to arrive, we would have to wait for the second boat :D . It was such a lovely day for a wait. Here is VIDEO of our hike including Hidden Falls and Grinnell Lake:

I sat down next to one of the boat people. She was a local from Kalispell but would be coming to Arizona. I gave her some ideas of where to hike. Like many others, this is where they hung out for their summer job between school sessions. And before you knew it, the last boat arrived. There weren't many of us on it so we could spread out and move about as we wished. We went over the hill to catch the Morning Star. Little did we know when we got on this boat that we would be treated to such a special experience.

As we are getting toward the other end of the lake preparing for the turn toward the boat dock, what do we see but a moose in the lake. WHAT?! but there she was, swimming her fool legs off. I didn't have the best position for filming as I had to shoot over others (and fortunately the boat didn't tip ;) ) but I was able to zoom. For awhile there it seemed like she was treading water but before you knew it, as we're docking she made it ashore. I think she was headed to the Gift Shop for some huckleberry yogurt (Wendy thinks she had a hot date at the Lodge) :lol: ; but all the people on the porch scared her away. Anyway, it made for a lot of excitement on a normally very serene boat ride. Here is VIDEO of the boat trip back from Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake including the moose encounter as well as from the Lodge and at the Cattle Baron Supper Club:

After de-barking we decided to spend some time at the Lodge before driving to dinner. So Gary and I headed off to the lounge to get a beer; it ended up being a huckleberry draught Heffewizen (so GOOD :) ) which we drank on the porch enjoying the most spectular views and wonderful weather. From there, it was off to the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb where we got to eat some of Montana's finest beef prepared perfectly :DANCE: . And if you thought the nite was over, nope - we had to stop at the KOA to do Gary's no-longer-missing laundry. They had this most wondeful contoured map of the Park at the store but it was a little pricey so we passed.
Grinnell Lake
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
How my Glacier Natl Park trip came-about: In Nov'05 I purchased a Natl Parks calendar for YR2006. The Aug'06 calendar pic had literally a "breath-taking pic" of a scene in Glacier NP that I was determined to find out where in Glacier this spot was located. After some research, it was confirmed to be a scene from this above trail in GNP.. from this point-on, the "wheels started turning" and a commitment to visit this spot in Glacier National Park became an obsession with me. While camping with some friends at Lockett Meadow in Aug'07 I first brought up the idea of doing a ~2wk hiking trip to GNP in YR2008. I had previously pulled this Grinnell Lake/Glacier calendar pic from the calendar and had it with me on this Lockett Meadow camping trip. After bringing this trip idea up with my friends, I just simply pulled-out this incredible pic and said.."here is why we need to go". I knew it would seal-the-deal and it did! Our plans over the next 11 months became reality, and we three were committed!

Needless to say, for me this was to be a very special day hike in the Many Glacier Section of GNP. For many obvious reasons this is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier, but regardless of the number of people, the outstanding views with varieties of flora and fauna, offset any "too many people on the trail" issues.

There are a number of hike options available in this beautiful area of Many Glacier from the 11 mile R/T hike described in this hike description, to numerous loop hikes around beautiful Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to lower turquoise blue-Lower Grinnell Lake. There is also a fun and scenic boat ride (that I know HAZ-tibber enjoys) that will lessen the hiking distances.

I was on a mission for this June 30th hike: I was determined to find that special viewpoint where the Aug'06 calendar pic was taken. It was along this Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint Trail between 2.5 to 3.0 miles in and we found it! What a stunning pic location to see in person.. Below lies turquoise blue lower Grinnell Lake with Morning Eagle Falls coming into view below Bishop's Cap and with Angel Wings towering above the lake. In early summer(this late June-July), water streams off Mount Grinnell, tumbling beside and often over the trail in roaring cascades and lacy of Mother Nature's ultimate places to experience! For me, it was truly a humbling experience to witness in person..

Because we were here considered early season(late June-early July) for Glacier Natl Park, there was the possibility that we were not going to make it to the ending Grinnell Glacier viewpoint at the high/upper lake 5.5mls in at 6560'. At 3.5mls in at 5870' we reached a forest service barricade which stated "dangerous snow fields/snow tunnels/ice 100 yards ahead"..After confirming so, we stopped for a lunch break here before proceeding back down to continue our day hike to lower Grinnell Lake and then a loop around Lake Josephine and back to Swiftcurrent Lake and our beginning TH. During our hike above lower Grinnell Lake and our loop around Lake Josephine we saw three Bull Moose enjoying themselves in the lake water. While on the trail hiking out, we were made aware of a close Grizzly bear sighting and after later returning to the Many Glacier Ranger Station we were informed this sighting had caused them to close the trail for the rest of the afternoon. Grizzly bear sightings are taken seriously in Glacier..

Another amAZing day for us in Glacier National Park! :GB:

Permit $$

Glacier National Park
$30 per car(week), $12 bike/foot(week), $50 annual View Current Entrance Fees

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Hiway 2 at Browning, take Hiwy 89 - 35 miles to Babb. From Hiway 2 at East Glacier, come into the Park (north), take Hiwy 49 (Kiowa Loop - scenic but not in the best shape) - 39 miles to Babb which is north past St Mary.

You will be heading for Many Glacier. From Babb, proceed west (toward the mountains) approximately 12.8 miles into Glacier National Park (you will pass the Many Glacier Hotel
page created by tibber on Aug 11 2011 2:55 pm
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