Ready for a beautiful summer adventures? These 10 best hikes in Glacier National Park are where it's at.
Glacier National Park is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States, and it is chosen again and again by tourists for its stunning hikes. Between the looming, jagged mountains and the outstretched meadows dotted with wildflowers, there is a hike for trekkers of all abilities and interests.
If you’re looking to head up north to Montana this summer, here are the 10 best hikes in Glacier National Park you won’t want to miss.
1. The Highline Trail
Glacier’s Highline Trail is one of the easiest trails to get to and it serves as a good introduction to the classic Going-to-the-Sun road and Logan Pass. Starting from the parking lot up at Logan, hikers begin the walk by walking along the edge of one of the towering mountains, complete with a cable to hold on to. You’re likely to see a variety of wildlife along the trail, which remains pretty flat until you start the climb to the Grinnell Glacier. It’s a great option for beginning hikers and kids.
2. Hidden Lake
Hidden Lake also starts from the Logan Pass Visitor Center, which offers maps and assistance to hikers as well as a gift shop. You will walk through one of Glacier’s famous meadows—home to grizzly bear, marmots, and several species of wildflower. The hike down to Hidden Lake should be taken slowly because of loose shale and a narrow path. However, the clear lake and view of Bear Hat Mountain as a backdrop is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of.
3. Siyeh Pass
For a faster, one-way hike that allows you to see the rest of the park, the Siyeh Pass Loop offers great views for not a lot of effort. Preston Park is a main reason even seasoned hikers choose this trail, and the Park has done an excellent job of maintaining the area. The first part of the hike is upward, so bring plenty of water and take the time to enjoy the view up at the top. On the way down, you’ll see Baring Creek Valley and the impressive Sexton Glacier, one of the last truly intact glaciers in the area.
4. Iceberg Lake
One of the best hikes in Glacier National Park has fallen out of favor the past few years, but it still remains one of the most gorgeous options for those looking to test themselves. This 9-mile hike starts in the Many Glacier area and begins steeply. About halfway through the hike, it becomes much flatter and easier to navigate. While it's one still one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, it isn’t for the faint of heart, and it is often closed because of bear activity. Expect to bring your bear and bug spray since you will be walking through a cool pine forest for a short part of the journey. The end leads you to Iceberg Lake, where you can take pictures of the floating ice near a blanket of wildflowers.
5. Pitamakan Pass
To see another area of the park, you’ll want to visit the Two Medicine region and attempt Pitamakan Pass. Be warned that this hike is not an easy one, and you should expect to camp if possible. Along the way, you’ll gain some views of Oldman Lake and a chance to try some of Montana’s famous huckleberries. It’s a tough climb to the top of the pass, but the views are some of the best in the park and perfect for your panoramic shot.
6. Cracker Lake
Near the Many Glacier Hotel, this is also a popular trail among horse enthusiasts and those who love sunrises in the mountains. The hike is about 12 miles and has waterfalls, chances to see wildlife, and glimpses of Allen Mountain. Cracker Lake itself is known for its beautiful turquoise waters and the jagged mountain peaks behind it. It’s also one of the best place to see some of the striations in the rock, which harken back to a history in the last Ice Age.
7. Gunsight Lake
Credit: Gary Miotla
After driving up a portion of the Going-to-the-Sun road, you’ll start the trail at the Jackson Glacier Overlook. Along the way, you’ll run into Deadwood Falls, a 10-foot waterfall that serves as a popular snack spot. The St. Mary River isn’t much farther, and it is common to see moose in this area as well as bears. This is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park for backpackers looking to camp for a few days as it is private and not used often.
8. Dawson Pass
The Dawson Pass hike is common among locals and can be the best introduction to the Two Medicine area. You’ll also witness some intriguing rock formations and take a short boat ride which will take you to the second part of the trail. Twin Falls is a highlight along the way, and the end offers some of arguably the best views overlooking lakes and forests. Dawson is a challenge, but it’s often worth it for the sense of pride and wonder at the end.
9. Redrock Falls
For an easier option that the whole family can do, the Redrock Falls trail has a little bit for everyone. It is mostly flat throughout the entirety of the hike, and there are several lakes available for swimming along the way. The Redrock Falls themselves are worth the trip alone, and their beauty is unexpected on a hike that is hardly strenuous. It’s a popular trail, so it’s likely you’ll meet someone along the way who will be happy to take your picture and will help to scare off the bears.
10. Mt. Saint Mary Falls
This 1-and-a-half-mile hike starts at the other end of the Park at the St. Mary Trailhead. After hiking through some dense forest, you’ll come to some of the most incredible waterfalls in Glacier. It’s a quick hike with a lot of reward, and the waterfall drops nearly 35 feet over several rock tiers. If you are visiting in the summer, it can also be an ideal place to cool off and take a lunch while overlooking the water.
The best hikes in Glacier National Park won't let you down.
Glacier is an area that can take years to explore, and it can be difficult to see everything you want to within a short visit. However, its scenic beauty and constantly-changing landscape makes it a destination to return to for hiking again and again.
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Alex is a traveler and writer—she eats a lot of pizza. Although she was born in Montana, but now considers herself a citizen of the world. She has written for numerous publications including USA Today, the Huffington Post, Elite Daily and many more. She blogs about sustainable tourism for millennials at The Wayfaring Voyager.