Glacier National Park is massive cliff faces, spectacular rivers and waterfalls, incredible blue lakes, and phenomenal hiking trails. After spending days here, you will still crave more — an outdoor paradise.

We arrived the day after reservations were required in September and spent a week hiking and hiking, taking in as much as possible — we loved every minute. This is our journey through Glacier NP.

AVALANCHE LAKE via TRAIL OF CEDARS 

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AVALANCHE LAKE via TRAIL OF CEDARS, is popular! We discovered why after hiking through the incredible Trail of Cedars and onto beautiful Avalanche Lake. The Trail of Cedars is a wide raised boardwalk through a forest of western red cedars and hemlocks. (doable for all ages and abilities). Humid within this area, the moss and ferns were intense colors of greens and yellows lining the forest floors and rocks.

At the junction for Avalanche Lake, if you’re not planning on heading to Avalanche Lake, hike 1/10-mile up Avalanche Lake Trail, a short, steep hike for a view that takes your breath away. Avalanche Creek cascades down a narrow gorge with glacier waters of intense blues. It’s beautiful. It’s worth the short, steep climb.

Heading to Avalanche Lake is all forest, shaded, and a moderate climb. Reaching Avalanche Lake was a genuine surprise. The lake is under towering peaks with waterfalls cascading down. Our day was slightly rainy, which just enhanced the beauty with small tufts of clouds lingering about.

 

Trail of Cedars – .09 mile loop    Avalanche Lake – 2.3 miles (one way) – West Glacier

HIGHLINE TRAIL – LOGAN PASS

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HIGHLINE TRAIL is one of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park. We are hiking across the Continental Divide with views beyond expectations! Gorgeous. We began our hike at Logan Pass, and at the trail end, we took a shuttle back to our car.

This makes it a loop hike even though it is point-to-point. Just after the trail starts, you come upon a short area (3/10) of a mile off a cliff edge with a cable to hang on to. The path is 6-8′ wide here. I’m not fond of heights and found it easy. Don’t let it stop you!

TIP: Our days in Glacier NP were just after the required reservations ended. We arrived at Logan Pass at 6 a.m. and found the parking area filling up, first come, first serve.

It is one of those hikes that I will remember for a lifetime!

Highline Trail – 11.8 miles – point to point – rated hard

TRAIL MAPS

GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL – MANY GLACIER

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GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL is fantastic. One of my favorite hikes during our stay at Glacier NP. Just past the Many Glacier Hotel is the trailhead, and the gentle trail takes you past Swiftcurrent Lake, then past Josephine Lake, until the hike changes from mild to moderate switchbacks. Ahead, Grinnell Falls cascades hundreds of feet into the turquoise waters of Grinnell Lake. Note: There were a few narrow, rocky cliff areas to cross as we went higher. We stopped gawking and paid more attention at times.

Upon reaching above the Grinnell Falls, we found a bench and pit toilet, to our surprise. Just. 1/4 mile to go, and the Glacier appears deep within the massive cliff sides. The water is a milky light blue among unusual golden rocks lining the shores.

It is a one-of-a-kind hike not to miss; we loved it! Come early, we arrived at 6:30 a.m. and found the parking lot almost full.

Grinnell Glacier Trail – 5.0 miles (one way) – rated: hard – elevation gain: 2,596′

SWIFTCURRENT PASS TRAIL – MANY GLACIER

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SWIFTCURRENT PASS TRAIL was popping with fall colors. Our intended hike was Iceberg Lake, but we turned left instead of right at the trailhead. It was a terrific day nonetheless, passing three fantastic lakes, Fishcap, Redrock, and Bullhead Lakes, along the way in an area widely known for spotting moose, which we did at Red Rock Falls and Fishcap Lake. Red Rock Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls located off a social trail at the end of Red Rock Lake.

It was super windy, cloudy, and much colder today; the fall colors were intensely beautiful. This is a lovely fall hike. We ended about 1/4 mile past  Bullhead Lake, where views of 8436′ Swiftcurrent Mountain, Swiftcurrent Glacier, and the massive rock walls above Bullhead Lake were spellbinding before turning back. (at approx 4+ miles). Not far past Bullhead Lake, you can go farther up steep switchbacks if you desire for an adventurous day.

Switfcurrent Pass Trail – 6.9 miles (one way) – Many Glacier

Our hike – 4 miles (one way), easy/moderate – Full hike becomes strenuous afterward.

ESSENTIALS I USE and LOVE

Sis Moon Design Hiking Umbrella – my favorite hiking extra for sun and fickle weather. Super lightweight.

Osprey Backpacks – my favorite day hiking backpack

HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL – LOGAN PASS

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HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL is a gem on Logan Pass behind the Visitor Center. Once again, we arrived at 6:30 a.m. to snag a parking spot. It had snowed on the highest peaks the night before, and the boardwalk at the start of the trail was icy. That didn’t stop anyone from heading out and finding Hidden Lake.

Open meadows and unbelievable views kept my head swiveling in all directions. Clements Mountain 8,706′ soars high alongside us. At 1.2 miles, we cross the Continental Divide with gnarley trees from extreme weather at high elevation line the path. At 1.35 miles, we reach the Hidden Lake Overlook.

Our ride up Going-the-Sun-Road was under low-lying cloud cover until we rose above clouds upon reaching Logan Pass. We can see Hidden Lake above the clouds, but our views of surrounding Peaks and down the valley floor are obstructed by lingering cloud cover above and below us. However, the sun is breaking through upon Hidden Lake. Weather sometimes creates a more stunning view!

Hidden Lake Trail – 1.3 miles (one way) – Family-friendly

South Shore Trail – Two Medicine – East Glacier

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SOUTH SHORE TRAIL in East Glacier alongside Two Medicine Lake was the perfect last hike of our visit to Glacier NP. Easy hiking through spectacular fall colors to Aster Falls.

Just past Aster Falls, take the social trail to find yourself above the Falls. From here, we continued after spotting a signpost that said: “Overlook.” (I think this is Aster Park) A steep, long trail took us to an incredible overlook of Two Medicine Lake and surrounding peaks.

We drove to East Glacier from West Glacier on Hwy 2, which borders Glacier NP, instead of going Over-The-Sun-Road within the NP. It was a beautiful drive to reach East Glacier Entrance.

South Shore Trail – to Cobalt Lake – 5.6 miles (one way) – to Aster Park – 1.9 miles (one way) – to Rockwell Falls – 3.3 miles (one way).

EARLY MORNINGS in GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

The colors are mind-boggling, like looking at a postcard!

Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Sunrise in Glacier NP,

LEFT or TOP photo – Driving into Many Glacier

RIGHT or BOTTOM photo – Standing on the shores of Two Medicine Lake, East Glacier

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SHORT ADVENTURES

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Apikuni Falls

Apikuni Falls Trail leads us on a short yet steep climb through the forest and many thimbleberry bushes. That had my antenna up watching for bears! The hike was pretty, with social trails leading to views across the valley floor and mountain peaks. We could hear the falls before actually reaching them. It was a scramble over rocks to sit at the base of the falls, which thundered down a cliff face.

Apikuni Falls Trail – 0.8 miles (one way) – steep yet short – family-friendly

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Running Eagle Falls – Two Medicine – East Glacier

Running Eagle Falls is an easy, short trek along a wide path and a sight to behold. There are two waterfalls in summer, with one above the one pictured. Hence, it’s nickname “Trick Falls”. It’s one of those special treats you miss in late fall, long after snowmelt.

Running Eagle Falls – 0.3 miles (one way) – easy – handicap accessible

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Polebridge Mercantile

Polebridge Mercantile is famous for homemade pastries and bakery. I heard they make sensational huckleberry bear claws and cinnamon rolls, and we put that on our list of what not to miss!

Located in the NW corner of Glacier NP, 22 miles from the Canadian border, it’s worth the drive. Check out their website > Polebridge Mercantile.

We planned to enter Glacier NP from Polebridge and see > Bowman Lake, but the bridge was in repair, and the road closed to the entrance.

 

Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road

Wild Goose Island

This is a famous spot for professional photographers for a photo shoot. (I am an amateur). Beautiful view of St. Mary’s Lake.

Easy to find at St. Mary’s Lake just off the Going to the Sun Road heading down the east side.

Read about the >  Folk Tale of Wild Goose Island. 

SUMMARY

We stayed in West Glacier and found ourselves driving Over-The-Sun-Road often and would recommend, if planning an extended visit, staying half of your visit in West Glacier and half in St. Mary’s Villiage or Many Glacier on the East Side.

The advantage of going in the fall after reservations are required is that we are free to drive Over-The-Sun-Road any time, leaving our schedule open to everything available and witnessing the intense fall colors that seem to pop more each day.

The disadvantage of going in the fall was that many venues were closing or closed. Logan Pass Visitor Center, Many Glacier Hotel to see the inside, all boat rides, to name a few. Our waterfall visits were stunning, yet I am sure they are intensely more powerful and gorgeous in the summer months,

Whenever you plan to go, prepare to be amazed!!

> Glacier National Park

BEAR AWARE

Entering Grizzly Country is posted at every trailhead. Be mindful of your surroundings, and bring > BEAR SPRAY! I also attached a > BEAR BELL to my backpack. (which I always do in any mountain area). We did not cross paths with a grizzly bear but did spot several from a distance having their fill of berries. > National Park Service Bear Advice.

Be prepared for great outdoor adventures,

> Day Hiker Checklist 

 

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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