Hiking: Glacier National Park Hikes
Hiking in Glacier National Park is an experience not to be missed, if you get the chance of a Glacier National Park hike . . . take it, there are lots of reasons why you should. Just to set the record straight, although it’s called Glacier National Park it’s also beautifully green at some times of the year, but the weather is extremely unreliable so always expect the unexpected . . . a beautiful sunny day can become freezing cold with snow showers in only a few short hours.
Glacier National Park, or “The Backbone of the World” according to Native Americans, is in Northwest Montana, covers more than a million acres, and (eyes right) boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the World. As far as hiking goes, there is plenty of opportunities to get and to keep your interest, more than 740 miles of hiking trails meander there way around the Glacier National Park, if you love hiking this really is the place for you, it’s a hiker’s paradise.
There are more than 60 hiking trails to explore in Glacier National Park, so I’ve picked out a few of the most popular, most exciting, most fantastic hiking trails you’ll find, anywhere in the world, but please don’t take my word for it, the best way to experience Glacier National Park is to pull on your hiking boots and see it for yourself.
Easy Day Hikes in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has more than it’s fair share of difficult hikes for the hiking enthusiast which we’ll talk about in a minute, but first of all there are also a great selection of easy day hikes, so come on, no excuses, some of these hikes around Glacier National Park are just a couple of miles long but take in remarkable scenery. What are you waiting for?
- Hidden Lake Overlook – also known as the Hidden Lake Nature Trail, this popular hiking trail is less than 3 miles long, very easy, but manages to take in some of the most stunning scenery as you hike along Alpine Meadows and take in the wildlife. The trail head is at the Logan Pass Visitor Center. This hike is short, easy and very popular . . . which means that it can be a little crowded at peak times. If you want to enjoy a quiet hike along the Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier National Park then make sure that you get there early in the mornings. At an elevation of around 7,000 feet the snow does tend to hang around well into the summer months, but once it’s gone expect a beautiful carpet of wild flowers. The landscape is dominated by beautiful snow-capped mountains, and after only 1.35 miles you’ll come across the Hidden Lake Overlook and the most spectacular panoramic views of the lake and of course, the surrounding mountains. Wildlife to expect on this hike includes mountain goats, marmots, bighorn sheep, wolverines, the odd Grizzly bear is also seen on this hiking trail.
Isn’t that spectacular? Notice the wind though, it’s enough to make you feel chilly just watching the video, so wrap up warm!
- St Mary Falls – fancy a very easy hike taking in one of the most spectacular water falls in Glacier National Park, then look no further than this hike which is less than 2 miles round trip. Starting at the St Mary Falls Cutoff Trail you start through open forest and you won’t be able to help but notice the Dusty Star Mountain towering in front of you. The hiking trail takes you through a dense pine forest only around a quarter of a mile from the trail head, pretty soon you’ll come across the St Mary River, then the thunderous crashing of water will become evident. St Mary Falls is one of the most spectacular falls in Glacier National Park, dropping in three, photogenic tiers. Now that you’ve come this far it’s well worth carrying on for just another mile . . . if you feel up to it . . . and see the equally, maybe more impressive Virginia Falls.
- Trail of the Cedars – I’ve included this hiking trail because it’s one of two trails in Glacier National Park which is wheelchair accessible . . . you see, hiking is open to everybody. It’s a 1 mile round trip along a raised boardwalk which takes you through forests of ancient red cedars, plus an incredible view of Avalanche Gorge . . . it really will take your breath away.
Trickier Glacier National Park Hikes
There are loads of very short, very easy hikes which are available for all to enjoy at Glacier National Park, but there are also some which are rather more challenging for the more experienced hiker.
- Highline Loop – from one extreme to the other, this 11.8 mile hiking trail (I know it’s called a loop, but it isn’t actually a loop at all) is very strenuous, with a total elevation gain of almost 2000 feet. More experienced hikers will agree that this popular hike certainly is a hike to remember, taking in incredible views, wildflowers and wildlife . . . if hiking is your “thing” then make sure that the Highline Loop Hike at Glacier National Parks is close to the top of your hiking “to do” list. Hikers who have a fear of heights, however, will have their resolve firmly tested on this world famous hike, a short section of the hiking trail is a simple ledge clinging to the Garden Wall, only four to six feet wide with hundred feet drop-offs, it’ll probably seem like the longest three-tenths of a mile in the world. Don’t let this put you off, it really is regarded to be one of the most beautiful and scenic hiking trails in the whole of America.
- Iceberg Lake – one of the best and most popular hiking trails in the Glacier National Park, do you wanna’ know why, ‘cos it gives you the rare but perfect opportunity to see real icebergs floating across an alpine lake. At just a little shorter than 10 miles round trip it’s a pretty strenuous hike but well worth the effort. A word of warning that the Iceberg Lake hiking trail passes through the Ptarmigan Trail area which is prime bear territory, we’re talking Grizzly bears. It’s important that hikers travel in groups along this hiking trail, making lots of noise and carrying bear spray for their own safety. It’s wise to check whether the trail is open before you set off for Glacier National Park, ‘cos sometimes it’s closed due to the activity of the bears.
I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l . . .
- Dawson Pass – if you particularly enjoy hikes with outstanding views, then Dawson Pass hiking trail in Glacier National Park is the place for you. With a round trip length of a little less than 10 miles, it’s located at Two Medicine Boat Dock, but you can shorten the length of the hike by crossing Two Medicine Lake by shuttle boat, it’ll save you around 4 miles but make sure that you’ve got a little cash handy ‘cos you’ve gotta’ pay for the ride. Dawson Pass hike is strenuous (even with the boat crossing) but the views really are breathtaking, even by Glacier National Parks usual high standards. Be prepared for chilly winds, even in the summer time, ‘cos it’s been clocked at around 100 miles per hour, trekking poles are also a great idea to give you a little extra balance against the winds.
Told you it was awesome didn’t I, but can you hear that wind . . .
As you’ve probably realized I’ve only be able to include a snapshot of the many individual hiking trails in Glacier National Park, I’ve tried to give a good cross section so that you can see that there’s a hike around Glacier National Park suitable for everybody . . . don’t put it off, get there this hiking season and you’re sure to have the hike of your life.