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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.

Avalanche Lake GNP, MT

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Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List MT > Western
4.1 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,911 feet
Elevation Gain 505 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.53
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
2  2017-06-28 friendofThunderg
20  2017-06-16 Uncharted
20  2017-06-16 Uncharted
104  2014-07-09 New2hyk
3  2012-08-14 Sun_Ray
10  2011-07-12 seattlehiker
3  2009-08-21 gummo
7  2009-08-14 gummo
Page 1,  2
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, May, Jul → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:22am - 6:34pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
by tibber

Likely In-Season!
The trailhead is located across the Going-To-The-Sun-Road from the Avalanche Campground at The Trail of the Cedars.

The trail actually begins as part of the Trail of the Cedars which winds through spectacular virgin stands of hemlock and western red cedar. Most of the trail is actually a boardwalk through the boggy woods. The forest is quite old, determined to have last suffered a fire in the early 1500s!

About a tenth of a mile, the trail breaks off to the right (just past the Gorge). Stay left at the next intersection to head up to the lake. Avalanche Lake Trail starts to ascend as soon as you leave the Trail of the Cedars. Total gain between the boardwalk and Avalanche lake is 500 feet. Actual altitude change on the rolling trail is closer to 1,000 feet.

A short climb later you come to a bit of a clearing where you can hear, and if you aren't afraid of heights, look over the edge at Avalanche Creek. If you stay on the trail you are plenty far away from the edge.

Near the lake the trail breaks out of the trees and you can see Bearhat Mountain on your left that forms the east wall of the valley while the west wall is formed by Mount Brown.

When you get to the lake you can't help but stop and look across at the huge cliffs across the way. Glacier water and lake water creates some of the most beautiful waterfalls (where some of them merge is called Monument Falls) cascading down to the lake from the hanging cirque valley formed by Sperry Glacier, which cannot be seen from the lake.

For those of you lucky enough to get to Avalanche Lake on a warm day soon after the trail opens in May, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of many avalanches, which is quite a sight if you have never seen one up close before.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-08-06 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
Avalanche Lake GNP
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This was my first hike of what is becoming my annual summer exodus from Arizona. This summer's exodus found me in the northern Rockies, where for just about a month I lived like a dirt bag hiker in and around Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. I logged about 315 miles of trail during this time. However the majority of those miles were in Glacier and Waterton National Park just north of the border, where I logged about 250 miles of hiking and backpacking.

I spent significant time in some of the most remote areas of Glacier and did three separate solo backpacks, however, I also paid my dues on the "touristy" trails. Avalanche Lake is undoubtedly one of the park's touristy trails, however, as with the other popular trails, an early start is key. I started this hike at 5:15 a.m. and did not really see anyone until nearing the end.

The hike is very straightforward and the trail is to national park standard. The section along the "gorge" in the beginning is a real treat and very photogenic. The lake was nothing short of spectacular and featured several hundred plus feet waterfalls emptying into it. On the way back I took the other half of the Trail of Cedars Loop back to the trailhead and the short detour was well worth it.

Overall, Avalanche Lake makes for an ideal family trail, or trail for the less adventurous. However, trail is very popular and parking fills up quickly, so get an early start for some solitude and your own sanity, by 9 a.m. the trail will sound like Christmas.
Avalanche Lake GNP
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Great hike. I've never seen a GPS have such a problem with elevation. No sudden jumps but a point near the beginning of the round trip hike was 6340' on the way out and 3482' on the way back. Either there was a major earthquake during the hike or a weather front must have come in. The GPS shows a AEG of 3548 which I know is wrong.
Avalanche Lake GNP
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
After doing Hidden Lake Over Look in the AM, we headed back toward Lake McDonald area where are lodging was located. We had the time, so did this easy hike to a lake...but the beauty is in the 4 waterfalls that cascade into the lake. Lots of folks on the trail. It was in the low 90's this day, but most of this trail is in the shade.
Avalanche Lake GNP
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
I had done this hike back on the same day in 2005 and insisted that my cousin take it with me this year. We wanted to do the guided tour but somehow we missed it only to find them catching up with us at the Lake. We started at around 8:40 AM with a chill in the air.

The biggest difference this year was the flow of the water. The Park had a late spring snow and in fact the Going to the Sun Road had just opened a week or so ago; although this side (the west side) opens quite a bit earlier. Anyway, because of the velocity of the water, it wasn't as pretty as when it has that deep turquoise color. Also the time of day effected the quality of the picture taking as we were hiking toward the sun.

There weren't too many hikers on the trail until we started heading back and that's when we encountered quite a few. I did notice some elderly hikers that were having trouble... you just don't realize how rolling the 1000 ft. altitude change can be. I hope that some of the hiking groups with the elderly took a few breaks.

It was very cloudy as we reached the lake. We sat there for about 45 minutes and enjoyed the lake, fauna and flora. The waterfalls were everywhere in every size and there was still quite a bit of snow on the mountains. We visited with the Park Interpretive Ranger that had finally made it here. Eventually the clouds started to roll away so that I could get some sunnier pictures.

We made our way back to the Gorge in an hour and headed on to the Walk of the Cedars toward the road. In 2005 this part was closed for repairs. It surely had some unique topography as well. The Cedars are indeed incredible. And then it was off to lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge for lunch where we enjoyed Huckleberry Daquiris, yum.
Avalanche Lake GNP
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After ending up parking at the Avalanche Campground due to being in a 33ft motor home, we headed on to the Trail of the Cedars. When we got to the gorge, we left my mother, and my in-laws and niece behind and headed up the Avalanche Lake Trail.
The weather was grand though slightly overcast. The gorge itself is just incredible with that blue glacial water rushing through. The colors of it and around it are so intense. The trail is fun as it winds through the forest and along the rushing creek for a piece. The lighting sprang in and around the forest showing off its green floor dashed with bits of color here and there.
The anticipation of the lake makes the hike seem longer as you work your way until you can see out of the top of the forest, first to the left and then eventually a sneak preview in front. When the trees clear from view, the magnificence of our earth is never grander... well it is in many other areas of Glacier National Park (GNP)and elsewhere, but for this moment it was stunning.
We spent about 20 minutes taking in the view and another hiker offered to take our picture which was very nice so that we didn't have to set up the timer on the camera. There were quite a few other people at the lake and along the trail but who can blame them.
We tried to pick up the pace on the way back but that's really hard for me when I have a camera in my hand. We did see a deer on the way back.
Unfortunately, part of the Trail of the Cedars was blocked off so we had to retrace our steps once we made it back to the gorge area.

Permit $$
Information is listed below

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

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Take Going-To-The-Sun road through Glacier Park past Lake McDonald. After you pass Lake McDonald you will go about four more miles and will see signs for the Avalanche Lake trail and the Trail of Cedars off to your right. Parking is tight because it is a popular trail. If you can't find parking in the lot, there is a shuttle from Lake McDonald Lodge and for around $15 you can park in the campground; also on the right side of the road.
page created by tibber on Aug 06 2008 2:35 pm
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