Updated: May 18
Hiking is one of the great pleasures of a visit to Glacier National Park. With towering mountains, ancient glaciers, waterfalls, flowering meadows, crystalline lakes, dense forests, and abundant wildlife, Glacier National Park really does have everything you could want from an outdoor vacation. No matter your skill level, hiking allows you to experience these wonders, in a more intimate way. Listed here are my favorites hikes in Glacier National Park that are appropriate for anyone from people who are mobility impaired to those looking for a moderate challenge. On our visit to Glacier National Park, The Going To The Sun Road was closed for repairs and maintenance. We stayed in West Glacier and drove through the Flathead National Forest to visit East Glacier for a day.
Things to Know Before Hiking
Glacier National Parks does require an entry ticket which must be obtained in advance. Even if you have a park pass, all vehicles entering still need a ticketed entry from May 27 to September 11, 2022.
The parking lots fill up quickly, get to the trailheads early to assure you get a parking place and to enjoy the trails when it is quieter.
Carry bear spray on all your hikes. There are definitely bears in the area. We did not see any, however I am sure they were close by.
Dress in layers, mornings and evenings are cool. Afternoons tend to be much warmer.
Throughout the Park, there are water stations where you can refill your water bottles. Because of the vastness of the Park, these stations are widespread and located in areas that can be very congested. Make sure you pack a lot of water when you leave your accommodations in the morning.
Wear appropriate footwear, even the elevated boardwalks have uneven sections and have potentially slippery spots. Sturdy, closed toe shoes are a must.
Carry a comfortable day hiking pack.
including the items pictured below:
East Glacier Hikes:
Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
This is a 3 mile out and back trail that starts and ends at the Logan Pass Visitors Center. This trail is rated moderate because of the elevation change of 576 ft. On the hike up the terrain was a bit stark, but still pretty. The morning we hiked this trail, there was significant fog around Logan Pass. As you can see from the photos above, the beautiful views were shrouded in fog.
Baring Falls via Piegan Pass Trail
This is a 2 mile out and back trail with stunning vistas of St. Mary's Lake. It is rated an easy trail and it takes about an hour to complete. The views of the lake and valley keep getting better and better the further you hike. We continued on from the Piegan Pass Trail to the Sun Point Nature Trail.
Sun Point Nature Trail
This 2 mile out and back trail, ranked as an easy trail. It takes about of 45 minutes to complete if you hike only this trail. We combined the Sun Point Nature Trail with the Baring Falls Trail. The views Sun Point are spectacular and make this trail one of the high points of our visit.
West Glacier Hikes:
Trail of Cedars
Trail of the Cedars is a 1 mile boardwalk and paved trail. It is accessible to people with wheelchairs and strollers. The trail wanders through giant cedars and along the Avalanche Creek. There are numerous placards that give you information on the ecosystem you are walking through. This is a great trail for families or people who are mobility impaired.
Avalanche Lake Trail
The Avalanche Lake Trail starts with the Trail of Cedars. About 1/2 mile in, you get to see Avalanche Gorge, from there the Avalanche Lake Trail takes off, and you hike along the creek and woods. After another 2 miles, you reach the lake. The Avalanche Lake hike is 5 miles roundtrip with around 500 feet of elevation gain. It is rated moderate. This lovely forest trail leading to Avalanche Lake is fairly level. The path follows Avalanche Creek which rushes by at high speed, most times of the year. You arrive at the beautiful glacial lake, Avalanche Lake. It is fed by at least a dozen snow melt waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet. We visited in the fall and only three waterfalls were flowing at the time. This is a popular hike, I’d suggest you plan an early start.
John's Lake Loop
This is a 2 mile loop trail, rated easy. It takes an average of 45 minutes to complete. This hike takes you along MacDonald Creek and then into the lush forest. Watch for wildlife, as you can see from the center picture, we had an elk join us on our hike. John's Lake was more of a pond than a lake when we visited in late fall. The walk through the moss covered forest was beautiful.
Rocky Point Via Lake McDonald Trail
This is a 2 1/2 mile out and back trail rated as moderate. It takes about an hour to complete. You wander through hard wood forests. At the turn around point, you are treated to beautiful views of Lake MacDonald with the craggy mountains in the distance. You can also catch a glimpse of MacDonald Creek.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you had a great hike, that is appropriate for all skill levels, in Glacier National Park and I did not mention it, please leave it in the comments so I can try it on my next visit.
Looking for more information about how to get started with hiking and recommendations for hiking in the United States, check out these blog posts.