The Best Hikes in Glacier NP National Park

265 Triplog Reviews in the Glacier NP National Park
Most recent of 96 deeper Triplog Reviews
1.52 mi • 87 ft aeg
I am writing this 9-14-2022.  First thing in the AM we went over to the St Mary VC to pick up our backpacking permit in hopes that we could make a change from the last two nites at Glenn's Foot to the last nite at Cosley Lake.  We thot there would be more people in line but it was only another couple.  Others would start showing up as it got closer to opening at 7AM.  But, one problem, the computers were down yesterday so they were having to update everything by hand, plus the computers were still not back online.  As the one ranger said, well at least no one else can get permit updates either.  About 20 minutes later it was a go and we were able to adjust our permit, yeah!  I love Cosley Lake even though all of us had stayed there before; it was definitely better than GLF and we would have a mile and 1/2 less to hike out.  We didn't know that the other backpacker ahead of us was through-hiking the CDT as we would run into him on our hike out.

We got breakfast at St Mary Lodge which involves putting in your order and it being delivered to your table in a paper sack.  This was the same at the Park Cafe.  I'll be glad when everyone can be fully staffed so we can have our meals delivered on a plate with real silverware! 


Next we headed over to our partial hike of the Beaver Pond Loop.  I can't remember why we decided against doing the whole loop other than bad weather was coming in and my knee was bothering me.  So I suggested we walk part of the northern part along St Mary Lake.  It was very windy as we made our way from the prairie through the edge of the forest.  We got to enjoy the wildflowers, the lake, the forest and the mountains.

The main wildflower was the Red Clover, it was everywhere.  The trail continues officially next to the forest but we decided to hike alongside the lake instead.  There were a few obstacles here and there but it was nice to be so close to the lake.  We had nice views across the way to Singleshot Mountain and ahead to Red Eagle Mountain.  I would like to backpack to REH (Red Eagle Head).  It's 8 miles and though the area is burned, it makes for wide open views at Red Eagle Lake.   We eventually came to a big downed tree that we couldn't get around.  On our way back we saw a Common GoldenEye Duck and beautifully colored rocks in the lake. 

We headed up to the 1913 Ranger Station and Barn before coming back to the Trailhead area to investigate the flat plains that were covered in flowers including Owl Clover... though not like what we have here.  It was really very windy so nearly impossible to get good photos of the flora for a good part of our hike.  I did get a couple movies though. There was lots of Prairie Smoke which is one of my favorite flowers here in Glacier National Park.  We didn't see anyone else but there were a couple cars.

After, we headed to the Park Cafe where we both agreed we had the best piece of huckleberry pie, but that was mostly due to it having no top crust and very little filler.  As to the rest of the lunch served to us in a paper bag, not the best.  We spent most of the rest of the afternoon in the cabin getting our backpacks ready for tomorrow.  It started storming off and on.  We finished our day with dinner at Two Sisters since the Cattle Baron Club wasn't open on Monday evenings.  Fortunately, my strained knee improved as I was worried I would have to cancel backpacking.  

Here is the video I put together:   [ youtube video ]
3.53 mi • 637 ft aeg
Written 9-12-2022: I had picked up Ambika at Glacier International airport (parking is very expensive, so beware) the nite before and we were lucky enough to stay at my cousin's place in Whitefish. The next day, after having a delightful breakfast in downtown Whitefish that included Huckleberry French Toast, we headed east to Glacier National Park.  However, we had to stop at the West Glacier KOA Cafe to pick up some Huckleberry Bear Claws.  These are a nice substitute if you can't make it up to Pole Bridge to pick up the original.

Our drive on the Going to the Sun Road was very nice as it always is; it had just opened a few days prior.  We decided to stop at The Loop to get pictures of the snow covered Heavens Peak.  We were lucky as we were able to park rather easily every place we stopped including Logan's Pass.  We had a late start so I think that gave us the opportunity to get parking.  The Wall was weeping so that is always a treat and we stopped at Haystack Falls which was flowing in earnest.  I wanted to stop at the Overlook just before Logan Pass but this time, no parking was available.  At Logan Pass we were anticipating making a few rounds but were lucky to make one small quarter loop to a parking spot.

We geared up for this short hike to Hidden Lake Overlook and we took our poles as last time in 2010, we didn't and ended up falling a couple times on our way down.  The sun was out, there were people everywhere.  We were so pleased to see the Glacier Lilies out in full force :) ; just like 2010.  As we headed up the boardwalk, we got to see some Bighorn Sheep in the distance.  We would see them a lot closer on our way down.  The boardwalk would soon give way to snow, lots of white and very slippery snow.  We would get one break to walk the boardwalk before we continued on snow again; until we got toward the top when the snow gave way to a dirt path.

I eventually figured out that by stepping in other people's footsteps, I could get better traction in the snow.  I saw all sorts of footwear as we made our way up with the throngs of others.  People were all over the mountain. However, it wasn't that bad and made for some interesting pictures. The route was marked with tall stakes as to the correct path. As long as it wasn't too slippery, Ambika and I stayed near them until we got to a bit of a people jam.  I had started up a hill that I had seen others following even though it seemed we should continue straight a little further.  One of the hikers said the trail was across rather than up so I came down from where I was.  I slipped but caught myself, however, I must have stretched a tendon as later in the evening and the next day, I had a hard time maneuvering my leg.

This area we crossed over had turned into a slide that people were coming up to and sliding down quite a bit on their behind.  It actually looked like a lot of fun as long as you stayed in the lane.  We had a little more snow to go over before hitting the trail that was running with water.  They had a late snow storm up here and thus, a late melt off.  We were glad to be on dirt for the most part as we made our way to the Overlook.  We did see a Mountain Goat in the distance and watched as he made his way toward us.   Seeing mountain goats is commonplace along this part of the trail.   We saw the same back in 2010.  Soon we were at the Overlook with breathtaking views :y: of Bearhat Mountain and the lake below.  The water was intensely crystal blue and still had quite a bit of snow around it and snow-covered ice on it. In the distance to the southwest you have great views of the snow-covered Gunsight Mountain.

We hung out and and had a snack before making our way through the crowds and back down the even more slippery snow.  Foot sliding every now and then seemed to work well.  The mountain goat was now on the north side of the trail entertaining the onlookers including one who was getting a selfie, the person, not the goat :D .  Of course, the scenery is as fabulous coming down as it is going up.  Your view into the St Mary Valley is so incredible, not to mention the view to the Garden Wall.  Off to our southeast was another mountain goat so once again, I had to get pics and a movie as he made his way toward us.  The wide expanse of snow made for some great photos but this was definitely a case of "stop and shoot" or you'd end up on your butt.

Finally back to the boardwalk we would get another animal show.  This time a fairly large herd of Bighorn sheep.  There seemed to be two in charge and the rest would follow.  And yes, they seem to eat Glacier Lilies.  Once again, I had to get several pictures and some movies.  As we continued down, it was interesting to see the choice of footwear including a couple where the guy was wearing flip flop sandals and carrying ski boots and skis.  I wonder if he realized how slippery this snow was at 4 in the afternoon?

This was a great little warm up hike in preparation for our backpacking trip.  The weather was expected to be bad tomorrow so it was good to get this one in.  We drove down to the St Mary KOA and checked in and got a homemade KOA pizza delivered; it was actually pretty good.

Video 1 is on the Going to the Sun Road of Heavens Peak, Weeping Wall and Haystack Falls  [ youtube video ]
Video 2 is hiking up to the Hidden Lake Overlook including Glacier Lilys galore and some wildlife of course  [ youtube video ]
Video 3 is hiking down from Hidden Lake Overlook featuring lots of snow cover, some Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep  [ youtube video ]

I have to say, after reviewing my photoset from 2010, I think I got even better pictures back then including some great critter shots [ photoset ]

Wildflowers
the substantial rating is mostly for the Glacier Lily and Western Springbeauty as there was still so much snow, not many other wildflowers were showing.
0.94 mi • 107 ft aeg
Fishercap Lake Loop
Short hike at the end of day 5 in Glacier Park. This is a short trail from the Swiftcurrent Lodge Parking area to Fishercap Lake. Starts at the trail head for the Swiftcurrent Trail. Kind of an uneventful hike but we did see our one and only deer in the park. This is our last day at Glacier, tomorrow we head south to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. The weather is turning bad just in time for us to leave, they are predicting flooding. It has been a good year for Glacier with late May snows.
8.19 mi • 553 ft aeg
Grinnell Lake Loop
On the 4th day at Glacier we hiked to Grinnell Lake along the north side of Swiftcurrent Lake and Josephine Lake then up to Grinnell Lake. This hike is just one Ooh and Aah after another, the scenery and views just don't quit. Hard to make good time when you are stopping to admire the scenery and take photos, but then we have all day. Bridges get you across all the major stream crossings to the Grinnell Lake.

Trail is easy to follow without much elevation gain. Snow didn't cover the trail until about .5 miles from Grinnell Lake. Only one iffy section along the north side of Josephine lake where snow covered the trail on a slope just above the lake, a slip would land you in the lake. Slow and careful did the trick. Views at Grinnell lake were spectacular with Grinnell Lake in front of you, Grinnell Peak to the right and Angel Wing Peak to the left. Don't expect to see much of a glacier though.

On the return trip we took a short side trip to Hidden Falls. This trail continues on up to Piegan Pass but the bridge across Cataract Creek was out. We were able to get to the falls because it does not require crossing the creek. Beautiful falls at the end of the trail. From the falls we headed back the way we came. It is hard to say which hike in Glacier we liked best, they all have their special qualities but this one is one of the top contenders.
3.58 mi • 423 ft aeg
Beaver Dam Loop
After our short Swift Current Hike we still had time to head back to the St Mary Lake area and do the Beaver Pond Loop. Nice loop for an early evening hike. It doesn't get dark until 10 at night here so plenty of time for this hike. This trail loops around a pond with what looks like a beaver dam. from what I was told the beavers no longer use the pond. At the end of the loop if you do it CCW is the old 1913 Ranger station Cabin. Areas of this hike travel through a burned out section of forest from the 2006 Red Eagle Fire. This was an easy late day hike with good views up Lake St Mary. Best if done in the morning for good views to the west without the sun being in the way, for us it was overcast so this wasn't an issue.
6.92 mi • 540 ft aeg
Swift Current Trail
Day three of our Glacier Park excursion was along the Swift Current Pass Trail in the Many Glaciers region. We weren't planning on going to the pass just as far as we could before the snow became an issue. The trail follows on the north side of Fishercap Lake, Redrock Lake and water fall, and Bullhead Lake. Scenic trail the whole way with great views up Swift Current Canyon and Grinnell Peak.

The trail is as expected in the park in great condition with the bridge at Wilbur Creek before Fishercap Lake intact. There was a crew working on a wood plank bridge that crossed a small creek but this was a minor challenge getting across the stream. Many portions of the trail required skirting just to the side of the trail to avoid mud. Eventually the mud gives way to snow. It wasn't difficult in the snow because it was packed but not frozen. We made it to the North Swift Current Glacier Creek where the bridge was washed out and there was no crossing the creek without it (no easy way at least). We turned around at this point and returned the way we came. Did see one lone moose just off the trail grazing on the return trip. I would like to take this trail on up when the conditions are better but not sure I want to deal with the crowded park conditions later in the summer, Fall might be good just after school starts.
14.21 mi • 1,213 ft aeg
Saint Mary Falls
On our second day at Glacier we wanted to hike around Saint Mary Lake. The Going to the sun Road was closed at the Rising Sun Motor Inn so we had to walk along the road to the Trail head for St Mary Falls. Very Scenic walk along the road especially since there were no cars on it. As a side note you have to go on line to get reservations to drive on the Going To The Sun Road (check to park website). Once at the St Mary Trail Head we went to St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls.

The walk along the road was quite nice Saw lots of wild life including a grizzly just 50 yards away, It was content rooting around in the brush looking for something to eat, did not seem to be interested in us thankfully. Took lots of photos. Other wildlife included Goats and big horn sheep a ways up the side of the hills. On our trip in along the road we stopped off at Sunrift Gorge about 100 yards off the road. Worth the side trip. With no cars on the road you don't have to worry about weather you will get a parking spot to visit this gorge.

St Mary Falls was running quite high. I am still amazed at how much water flows in these creeks/rivers. From St Mary Falls we headed up to Virginia Falls, Really impressive. On our return trip from the falls we followed a trail along Lake Mary to Sunrift Gorge again then to Baring Falls and continued on the trail to Going to the Sun Point where we took the road back to our start point.

At First I was disappointed that we couldn't drive to St Mary Falls Trail Head especially since we went on line and got a pass, It would add 8 miles of road walking. When we were done with the hike though I was actually glad it was closed and the added 8 miles was actually quite eventful. On our trip back to where we stayed the week at Swift Current Lodge we were able to see more grizzly's, moose and black bears.
6.38 mi • 917 ft aeg
Two Medicine Lake Aster Falls
After we hiked the short Running Eagle Falls Trail we headed to two Medicine Lake and the Aster Falls Trail. This trail heads along the south side of Two Medicine Lake and would eventually loop around the lake back to the start point. There are multiple trails emanating from this trail that will take you up to the ridgetops/saddles that surround this lake and to upper two Medicine Lake. Most of the upper end of these trails, especially on the north facing slopes still had quite a bit of snow. We took a short side trail to aster Falls on our return trip.

The Two Medicine Lake trail is in good condition although a bit muddy and snow covered in places. Fairly level walking as would be expected along a lake. We made it to Paradise Creek where the bridge was being repaired. There was no crossing this creek it was running really hard. A crew was working on the suspension bridge and we were told if we wait about an hour we would be able to cross. We headed back at this point.

On the return we took the short Aster Falls Trail, pretty good elevation gain for such a short trail. This is a north facing slope trail so the snow was considerable but manageable since it wasn't frozen (Temps were in the mid 50's in the afternoon). Once off the north facing slopes the trails were clear. Aster Falls is impressive and a short way after the falls a bit higher up is a viewpoint overlooking the Two Medicine Canyon, very impressive. There are many options at Two Medicine Lake for hiking from short to long hikes, low or high AEG Pick your poison.
0.59 mi • 19 ft aeg
Running Eagle Falls Trail
Arrived in Glacier National Park and visited the lodge, time now to do a little hiking. Our first stop was a short hike to Running Eagle Falls. Not much of a hike at .3 miles in but The falls are a worth seeing. The bridge was washed out crossing the Two Medicine Creek so we had to admire the falls from 100 yards further away. This is is not a creek you can just rock hop across, it requires getting quite wet. Since this falls is close to the road it gets visited quite often and the trail in has many side spurs all leading to the same place. The weather was good with highs in the low 60's. Glacier received snows in late May early June so the mountains had a good snow pack, more than when I was last here in June a few years back.
9 mi • 1,024 ft aeg
I loved this little day hike. We'd had more ambitious plans, but I felt a cold coming on and with the air quality still low, we figured that keeping it easy would be a better plan. Of course, 9 miles is hardly "easy" - but with as little elevation gain as this hike offered and the long hiking day, we were able to cruise. The plus side were that we had more huckleberries (yay!) and a moose sighting to make our day more interesting.

I think that camping at Upper Two Medicine would be a great entry-level backpack in Glacier. With the boat ride, it would be a very short hike, with a big payoff at the end and a lovely campsite. Of course, if weather turned, you could get back in a shake.
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