Best Hikes In Glacier National Park

With an excess of 700 miles of hiking trails, Glacier National Park in Montana provides both serious hiking enthusiasts and casual ramblers with a wide range of choices. The question is, which are the best hikes that the park has on offer?

The Glacier National Park has hikes to cater to all skill levels. Some of the best hikes in the Glacier National Park include:

  • Highline Trail
  • Grinnell Glacier Trail,
  • Dawson-Pitamakam Loop,
  • Avalanche Lake,
  • Hidden Lake Overlook,
  • Iceberg Lake Trail, and
  • Sun Point to Virginia Falls

However, asserting that any single hike is the best is a difficult task. The definition of the best hike will vary concerning each hiker and their requirements for the hike. Choosing your season and hiking gear will also impact the enjoyment factor of the hike.

The Avid Hikers Top Picks For Glacier National Park

Whether your preference of exertion is elevation, distance, or if you are looking for hours long or even multi-day rambles, Glacier National Park has got options for you.

  • Highline Trail
  • Grinnell Glacier Trails
  • Iceberg Lake Trail
  • Dawson Pitamakam Loop

Highline Trail – The Fans Favorite

Easily one of the most well-loved trails in the park, this route will provide you with mountain views, waterfalls, and beautiful flora. This moderate hike covers 11.6 miles and should take approximately seven and a half hours one way. If you are planning to complete this in one day, be prepared for an early start.

The trail commonly boasts sightings of mountain goats, and hikers will enjoy the rush of a short section of trail that will take you along a narrow ledge of the mountain.

Grinnell Glacier Trails – The Campers Dream Trail

As the name suggests, this trail will take you to the Grinnell lakes. It is considered a difficult trail, but you will be rewarded with magnificent views. There is an option to take a ferry across the lakes, which will provide respite for those who would like a chance for a break between walking.

For those considering overnighting, there are campgrounds not far from the Lake.

Iceberg Lake Trail – The Alpine Trail

This hike is on the moderate side and is great for active families; it includes a 1200 foot elevation gain and is 4.5 miles long. With vistas of icebergs in the Lake – season-dependent – and the alpine scenery and views over the Lake, this is another firm park favorite.

Iceberg Lake Trail is also one of the best routes for viewing wildlife. Animals like bighorn sheep and mountain goats are a common sight on this trail; so too are bears. Although interactions are few, be sure to keep your bear spray within reach.

You will be glad to know that snakes are not a common feature in the park, and those in residence, a variety of garter snakes, are not venomous and completely harmless to humans.

 No matter the type of animal encountered, maintain respect for their habitat and stay calm.

Dawson Pitakam Loop – The Tough Trail

One of the more difficult trails in the park with a distance of 18.8 miles and a 3000ft elevation gain, this is often undertaken as a multi-day hike, although the more athletic hiker can complete it in a single day.

Camping overnight will require permits but will be more than worthwhile as the lengthened stay will allow you to enjoy two mountain passes.

The route is home to a wide selection of plant and animal life. Always keep your bear spray on hand and check in with the rangers before heading out to keep updated on bear activity, as you will be heading into prime Grizzly country.

What Are The Best Family-Friendly Easy Hikes?

Hiking as a family means ensuring that the chosen hike will suit all ages and abilities. Glacier National Park has several easy hikes that all ages will enjoy. The distances are short with a minimal elevation gain.

  • Avalanche Lake
  • Sun Point to Virginia Falls
  • Hidden Lake Overlook

These trails are short easy hikes that provide the family with an easy and enjoyable immersion into nature. There are free park shuttles that go between certain trails – these can be used to assist in access and are very useful for when you have had your fill of exercise.

Avalanche Lake – The Best Beginner Trail

This hike is a less than 5-mile round trip recommended for every age. It’s a great starter hike as it provides easily accessible views and magnificent scenery of waterfalls and cascades into the Lake. Be warned that during peak season, this hike can be crowded.

Sun Point To Virginia Falls – The Ultimate Picnic Trail

If you’re looking for something slightly longer with great picnic spots, this is the hike for you. This trail has the benefit of being serviced by the park shuttles, allowing you to wander to your heart’s content without worrying about how to get back should you get tired.

The whole hike should take four hours, providing the perfect day of walking and picnicking.

Hidden Lake Overlook – The Easy Family Trail

Another of the shorter hiking trails at just 3 miles long leaves the Logan Pass Visitor Centre. It provides wonderful views and very little elevation gain. Those with some additional energy can descend to the Lake edge.

How To Best Prepare For Your Hike

Regardless of which hike you may consider, always be properly prepared to ensure that you will get the most enjoyment out of the outing. Check the Park Website to monitor trail closures and bear sightings before you head out.

The seasonal timing of your hike will be essential for the accessibility of the trails. Choosing a time between June and September will provide optimal hiking conditions. Nonetheless, always take wind and waterproof jackets along with you. Remove and add layers as required.

Bear spray is a must – Glacier National Park is open to wildlife, and bear encounters are possible. Keep your spray somewhere easily accessible, and where possible, keep your distance from the wildlife for your safety and theirs.

Bear Spray can be bought from the local airport for non-locals. The park is a popular destination; plan to begin your hike early to avoid the crowds. Do your research before your trip; the park has numerous visitor centers, restrooms, and picnic spots.

Conclusion

Glacier National Park has hiking trails to suit all needs and capabilities, with some of the best hiking trails in the United States. Each trail brings with it its very own magic and scenery.

Highline Trail, Grinnell Glacier Trail, Dawson-Pitamakam Loop, Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake Overlook, Iceberg Lake Trail, and Sun Point to Virginia Falls Trails provide the perfect variation to keep all trail enthusiasts happy.