Hiking - Trivia

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park - The Crown of the Continent

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The ‘Crown of the Continent’ – Glacier National Park is an enchanting destination in Montana, U.S., which offers breathtaking views and adventure activities aplenty. It is most popularly known for spectacular drives on Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offer amazing views of the park. The best hikes in Glacier National Park have the wild meadows, giant waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and striking rock formations and are like a beautiful painting that’s come alive!

Its vast hiking routes lure large groups of hikers and adventure seekers from across the globe. So, are you looking at the Glacier National Park Map and wondering which hike to take up?

Read further for the list of best hikes in Glacier National Park that will give you the most enthralling experience. Each hike consists of the elevation level, distance, difficulty level and the best time to visit along with camping details (if any!).

What is Difficulty Level Rating?
It is essential that before every hike, you are aware of the difficulty rating. A hike rating less than 5 is considered to be easy, any rating between 5 to 10 is considered to be fairly moderate, and anything beyond 10 is difficult.

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park- Logan Pass Area

1. Piegan Pass

Elevation – 1,850 feet
Distance – 9.2 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 12.90 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for best views.
Camping – Camp in the park lodging and take shuttle service.

glacier national park
Piegan Pass

Piegan Pass is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, which boasts of awe-inspiring scenic beauty, including the Feather Plume Falls. Once you reach the top, enjoy the panoramic view of Mount Siyeh, Mount Gould along the Garden Wall, Angel Wing, Jackson Glacier, Bishops Cap, Blackfoot Glacier, and the Many Glacier Valley. You might spot mountain goats and ptarmigan that are usually found in this area. Make sure you check the weather before you start and carry a windbreaker.

Livingit Tip
You have two options – Either park your cars at the Siyeh Bend, hike straight up the Piegan Pass for 4.5 miles, and return to the Siyeh Bend or go till Many Glacier Hotel (from Piegan Pass 8.3 miles north) and reduce 2,640 vertical feet of the total hike elevation.

Check out: Hiking Trails in Zion National Park

2. Hidden Lake Overlook

Elevation – 540 feet
Distance – 3 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 3.78 (Easy)
Best time to visit – Summer, very early morning to avoid crowds.
Camping – NIL

glacier national park hiking
Hidden Lake Glacier National Park

Also known as the Hidden Lake Nature Trail, Hidden Lake Glacier National Park will take you through the beautiful Hanging Gardens (alpine meadows) of wildflowers. Walk along a raised boardwalk to stay above the rivulets, mud, snow, and slush.

You’ll arrive at the Continental Divide from where the runoff water flows towards the Pacific Ocean. All along the hike and from the peak, enjoy spectacular sights of the Clements Mountain, Garden Wall, Mt. Oberlin, Bearhat Mountain, Heavy Runner Mountain, Mount Cannon, Mt. Reynolds, Fusillade Mountain, Sperry Glacier, and Gunsight Mountain. Marmots, Mountain Goats, Grizzly Bears, and Bighorn Sheep are a common sight here. Much sun, the wind, and snow (even in summer) likely at the peak, so carry hiking poles, snow boots, windbreakers, etc.

Livingit Tip
Watch out for hazardous snow bridges and avoid getting close to the goats or feeding them.

3. Highline Loop/Trail

Elevation – 1,950 feet
Distance – 11.8 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 15.70 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for best views.
Camping – Camp at the Granite Park Chalet Lodge and carry your own food (though packaged food is available).

glacier national park hikes
Highline Logan Loop/Trail Source

Highline Trail is one of the park’s best wildflower trails and home to Bears, Mountain Goats, and Bighorn Sheep. Starting at Logan Pass, you will be hiking along the Continental Divide or Garden Wall as breathtaking views await you! Behold the beauty of Mt. Oberlin, Heavens Peak, Mt. Cannon, Mt. Gould, The Salamander and Grinnell Glacier, and Swift current Mountain. Once you descend, wait for the shuttle at the Loop Trail or get to your parked vehicle. If you’re not in for long distance hiking, hike up to Haystack and return to Logan Pass. You’re likely to face high wind and snow at the peak, so carry hiking poles, snow boots, ice axe, etc. Do carry enough water.

Livingit Tip – Highline Trail Glacier hike involves elevated areas with steep drop-offs at the trail edge and hence, best avoided by those who fear heights.

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park – Mary’s Glacier Hike Area

4. Siyeh Pass Loop

Elevation – 2,280 feet
Distance – 10.4 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 14.96 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for best views and parking space.
Camping – NIL

best hikes in glacier national park
Siyeh Pass Loop

Siyeh Pass is one of Glacier Park’s highest areas, standing at 8,080 feet. You will come across the gorgeous Preston Park, with green alpine meadows, wildflowers, and fir trees. Also enjoy mesmerizing views of Mount Siyeh, Sexton Glacier, and the Sunrift Gorge.

Bighorn Sheep, Bears, and Mountain Goats are a common sight on the Baring Creek area of the pass. On descending, the spectacular Sunrift Gorge will appear at the end of the hike and is the best part of this hiking experience. Make sure you hike in groups and carry enough water, windbreakers, hiking poles, snow boots, etc. because snow is probably at a high elevation. Ranger-led hike at Siyeh Bend is available (starting at 9 am), from July to August first week (except on Wednesdays and Saturdays).

Livingit Tip – Park your vehicles at Sunrift Gorge and take the free shuttle up to Siyeh Bend.

Also read: 15 Sequoia National Park Hikes & Kings Canyon National Park Hot-Spots!

5 . Saint Mary and Virginia Falls Glacier

Elevation – 215 feet
Distance – 1.7 miles round trip + 3.6 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 2.13 (Easy)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for best views and parking space, or evening when there are fewer crowds.
Camping – NIL

st mary falls
Saint Mary Falls Source

This trail is perfect for family and waterfall lovers. Descend along the trail and enjoy beautiful views of Little Chief Mountain and Mahtotopa Mountain. Furthermore, you will find the St. Mary River before reaching St. Mary Falls.

Soak in this waterfall amidst the scenic surroundings and then, either return to the starting point or continue on the trail. Hike up the trail into a lush forest with mesmerizing views throughout, and reach the roaring Virginia Falls. Spend some time at the base of the falls before moving to the bridge for stunning views of the aquamarine waters. Park your vehicles at the parking space, or take shuttle service from Sun Point or Rising Sun up to St. Mary Falls Trailhead.

virginia falls glacier national park
Virginia Falls.

Livingit Tip
Be careful and take care of your children when crossing the ledges and slippery spots. Also, watch out for water ouzels (slate-grey colored birds) at the falls.

Best hikes in Glacier National Park – Lake McDonald Area

6. Avalanche Lake

Elevation – 730 feet
Distance – 4.6 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 5.96 (Moderate)
Best time to visit – Summer; at sunrise or sunset for photographic views and parking space.
Camping – Camp at the Lake McDonald Lodge or Sperry Chalet (6.4-mile hike one way to reach Sperry Chalet).

avalanche lake glacier
Avalanche Lake Glacier

Avalanche Lake Glacier is a loop hike whose start and end lie along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Starting from the eastern side of the loop, walk past a thick forest of red cedars and western hemlocks. The valley’s humid weather facilitates the growth of these trees to as high as 100 feet and as wide as 7 feet.

When you’ve covered about a mile and a half from the trailhead, you will find a bridge spanning the Avalanche Creek, which offers perfect views of the lower Avalanche Gorge. Hike upwards amidst the dense Pacific rainforest and finally reach the foot of Avalanche Lake Montana. Enjoy stunning views of the Bearhat Mountain, Little Matterhorn, and various waterfalls on this wonderful hike.

Livingit Tip – Start from the Trail of the Cedars Trailhead.

Go through: The Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park: Plan Your Pit-Stops Here!

Best hikes in Glacier National Park – Many Glacier Area

7. Iceberg Lake

Elevation – 1,275 feet
Distance – 9.7 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 12.25 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Early Summer (not too early), when the icebergs haven’t melted; early morning for good parking space.
Camping – NIL

iceberg lake glacier national park hikes
Iceberg Lake Source

Iceberg Trail is one of the most unique and scenic trails in Glacier National Park. Due to its location amidst high mountains, the lake usually remains hidden from the sunshine, causing snow and ice to accumulate on the lake. At a junction beyond the Iceberg Lake Trailhead, take a right and access the trail connecting Ptarmigan Trail.

Behold stunning views of Mount Grinnell, Swiftcurrent Mountain, Mount Wilbur, and Ptarmigan Falls on this hike makes it one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park. Iceberg Lake Glacier National Park also offers amazing opportunities for viewing wildlife and is a prime habitat for grizzly bears.

Livingit Tip – Check with a ranger about bear activities; carry bear spray, hike in groups, and make noise while hiking.

8. Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike

Elevation – 2,300 feet
Distance – 10.7 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 15.30 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for good parking space.
Camping – NIL

ptarmigan tunnel hike glacier national park
Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike Source

Starting from behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, take a right at the junction beyond the Iceberg Lake Trailhead and access the connector trail (steep climb) leading to Ptarmigan Trail. Behold breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and amazing wildlife such as Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, and grizzly bears.

Before reaching the tunnel, you will come across the Ptarmigan Lake and Ptarmigan Wall (over 1,700 feet high wall that separate the Belly River Valley from the Many Glacier). Walk to the other end of the 240-foot tunnel and enjoy stunning views of the Belly River, Elizabeth Lake, Natoas Peak, Crosley Ridge, and Old Sun Glacier.

Livingit Tip – Since the trailhead (near Swiftcurrent Motor Inn) has parking space for only about 10 to 15 cars, it’s better to park a little away from the Inn. Though it adds around 0.2 miles to your overall hike, it will ensure you a proper parking space.

9. Grinnell Glacier

Elevation – 1,840 feet
Distance – 7.6 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 11.28 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for good parking space.
Camping – NIL.

grinnell glacier
Grinnell Glacier

This is one of the most-visited glaciers in Glacier National Park. Enjoy walking past the trees and behold the beautiful Mt. Wilbur, Lake Josephine, Allen Mountain, and colorful valleys. You might encounter snow as you walk further and reach a waterfall right on your path. From here, you can see Mt. Grinnell, Angel Wing, the Garden Wall, Salamander Glacier, Grinnell Lake, and the Cirque around the lake. Look out for the Bighorn Sheep as well en route. This hike is not suitable for kids. Also, remember to wear good hiking shoes and be careful in slippery areas at the waterfall.

Livingit Tip – Park at the Grinnell Glacier Trail parking lot or at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (about 600 m further) if parking is full. You can also take shuttle boats from the Many Glacier Hotel’s boat dock or start hiking from the Grinnell Glacier parking lot, which is a better option.

11. Cracker Lake

Elevation – 1,400 feet
Distance – 12.6 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 15.40 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning for good parking space.
Camping – Camp by the lakeside.

cracker lake glacier national park hiking
Cracker Lake

Cracker Lake is one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, with turquoise waters reflecting the surrounding scenic views. The first few miles will be dusty due to heavy horse traffic (depending on the season), and later you will walk through a lush forest leading to the Cracker Flats Horse Loop.

Behold the valleys and a waterfall before arriving at the lake, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains making it one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

Livingit Tip – Start hiking from the Cracker Lake Trailhead (at Many Glacier Hotel parking lot’s southern ends) and take left at the junction where the trail splits, to continue towards Cracker Lake.

Best hikes in Glacier National Park – T wo Medicine Area

12. Pitamakan Pass

Elevation – 2,500 feet
Distance – 15.4 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 20.40 (Strenuous)
Best time to visit – Summer; early during the day for parking space.
Camping – Camp in one of the four individual campsites at Oldman Lake.

pitamakan pass glacier national park
Pitamakan Pass

Taking this long hike is totally worth the spectacular views that you’ll come across en route. Walk past thick forests, a waterfall from Sky Lake, avalanche chutes, and the Oldman Lake to reach Pitamakan Pass. From here, treat your eyes to views of alpine lakes, the Coal/Nyack area, Flinsch Peak, the Rising Wolf Mountain, Mount Morgan, Boy Lake, and far away peaks. You might even spot Bighorn Sheep at the Bighorn Basin. It is best to park your cars at the Two Medicine campground (by Lake Pray) parking lot and start hiking from here. Cross a footbridge to reach the Oldman Lake and take a right turn (Left turn leads to Dawson Pass) to proceed to Pitamakan Pass. Return from this point or hike up the pass.

Livingit Tip – Carry trekking poles and windbreakers for hiking to the top because it can be dangerously windy.

13. Fishercap Lake – Redrock Falls

Elevation – 285 feet
Distance – 4.2 miles round trip
Difficulty Level – 4.77 (Easy)
Best time to visit – Summer; early morning or evening for best views.
Camping – NIL

redrock falls
Redrock Falls Source

The area is popular for grizzly bears and wildflowers and is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park. At 0.25 miles of the hike, you will reach the Fishercap Lake, which is a beautiful beach area for you to relax on the way. Find moose lurking in the area and continue along the trail through vast trees of pines and aspens. Enjoy views of surrounding peaks including the Swift current Mountain and Grinnell Point. Arrive at the Redrock Lake after about 1.7 miles and behold the stunning Redrock Falls. A perfect trail for the family.

Livingit Tip – The Lake trailhead starts from the west end of Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Make noise as you hike to warn the bears in this area.

Read: Best Hikes in America to Put on Your Bucket List!

Now that you have the perfect set of best hikes in Glacier National Park picked out for you, go ahead and have the most amazing hiking experience. Embark on your adventurous hiking in Montana and tell your story here for the world to know.

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