5 Best Hikes In Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is filled with bucket-list hikes. We understand that picking a few to fit in on your vacation can be difficult. That’s why we have picked out some of our top hikes in Glacier National Park to share with you. If you plan on going to the park this summer, you will want to familiarize yourself with their new ticketed entry system to drive Going-To-The-Sun road. Learn more about the ticketed entry here.
Best Day Hikes In Glacier National Park:
1. Highline Trail
2. Hidden Lake
3. Grinnell Glacier
4. Iceberg Lake
5. Siyeh Pass
1. Highline Trail
The Highline Loop is very popular and one of the top hikes in Glacier National Park for many reasons. This 11.8-mile hike is filled with breathtaking scenery everywhere you look. Though the term “Loop” is in its name, this trail is actually a one-way hike. The trail begins on the north side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Logan pass. There is a bend in the road where the trail ends on the west side of the park, where the term “Loop” refers.
The Highline Follows along the Continental Divide, where you will have ample opportunity to spot wildlife, wildflowers, and wild views. This trail is not best suited for those with small children or those with a fear of heights. After about a quarter of a mile, you will reach the Garden Wall, which is carved into the side of the mountain. Handrails are there to help you get across this narrow stretch that has 100 feet or more or drop-offs down to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below. Once you have made it past the 2.5 miles on rocky mountain ledges, the trail mellows out. You will enter a new terrain of trees and wildflowers as you approach Haystack Pass, which is the steepest climb you will have to do that day. The views will distract you from the uphill climb. Once you have reached the top of Haystack Pass, many people turn around and head back to Logan Pass. This route would make your hike a 7.2-mile round trip.
For those of you who choose to push on, the scenic journey continues to pay off with views of Haystack Butte, Lake McDonald, Granite Park Chalet, and much more. Once you have reached the 6.9-mile marker, you will come to a crossroad with a side trail called Grinnell Glacier Overlook Spur trail. The side trail is about a .09 mile detour up a steep mountainside. Below you will see Grinnell Glacier, Mount Gould, and Salamander Glacier. When you get to the top, you will feel exhausted and on top of the world at the same time.
Hike back down the Grinnell Glacier Overlook Spur trail and continue towards Granite Park Chalet. Around .07 miles after your detour, you will reach the Chalet. Stay to the left of the trail to continue the final leg of your journey. From here, you are on Granite Park Trail. Heavens Peak will be in your skyline view as you wind down the mountainside for the next 4.2 miles.
2. Hidden Lake Overlook
Hidden Lake hike in Glacier is a popular hike that is relatively easy to complete. The hike is a 2.7-mile journey that will reveal a carpet of wildflowers, 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, and ultimately arriving at the alluring Hidden Lake. The best time to start this hike is early in the morning due to the popularity of this trail and the lack of parking at Logan Pass.
Hidden Lake Overlook trail begins from the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The paved trail turns into a raised boardwalk over the Hanging Garden Meadow. About 1.2 miles into your hike, you will reach the Continental Divide, where runoff from snow and rain begins flowing towards the Pacific Ocean. At 1.35 miles, you will arrive at the Hidden Lake Trail overlook. Straight ahead, you will see Bearhat Mountain towering above Hidden Lake. To the west is Mount Cannon, to the south is Fulsillade Mountain, and to the southwest is Gunsight Mountain and Sperry Glacier. Some of the wildlife that inhabits this area are mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, and wolverines. Occasionally, grizzlies have been known to stroll in the area. If you continue down the trail for another 1.4 miles, you will reach the northwestern shore of Hidden Lake.
3. Grinnell Glacier Trail
See one of the 25 remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park. Hiking to Grinnell Glacier is one of the easiest ways to see one of these glaciers up close before they inevitably melt away. This hike can be strenuous because it is steep with an elevation gain of 1,620 feet, and in some parts, the trail becomes narrow. Take it slow and take the time to enjoy it.
There are two ways to hike the Grinnell Glacier trail. You can either hike the trail around Lake Josephine or take a boat from Many Glacier Hotel across Swiftcurrent Lake and a second boat across Lake Josephine to the trailhead at the Many Glacier Picnic Area. This hike is about 12 miles round trip without the boat. The boat option shortens your hike by 4.5 miles.
A nice way to learn more about the area and the geology is by taking the boat. It also gives you a great opportunity to relax. Many people opt to hike in and then take the boat back after they spent the day hiking. We highly recommend making reservations with Glacier Park Boat Company if you chose to go this route.
The journey to Grinnell Glacier is filled with alpine meadows, panoramic views, wildlife viewing opportunities, waterfalls, and much more! Anchored by Mt. Grinnell and Mt. Gould, three glaciers, the Grinnell, Salamander, and Gem, are nestled between a wall of rugged peaks. The hike begins as an easy walk around the lakes before the fun switchbacks begin. There is a gorgeous view of the Grinnell, Josephine, and Sherburne lakes as you near the top. At the top, you will arrive at the famous Upper Grinnell Lake with the glacier looming above. If you hike about a mile down to the lake’s outlet stream, you will come across a fossilized ancient lifeform called, Stromatolites, responsible for creating the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere.
As one of the park’s more popular trails, you won’t find much solitude. During the summer, many people take daily ranger-led tours visiting the Glacier. Choosing a guided hike is a great way to learn about what makes this a unique place to visit.
Did you know that Grinnell Glacier is named after George Bird Grinnell, the popular outdoor magazine Field and Stream editor? His first visit to the area was back in 1885, and he was an advocate for the establishment of Glacier National Park.
4. Iceberg Lake
Hiking in Glacier National Park is amazing because the scenery constantly changes as you progress through the trails. Tucked in a glacial cirque is the aquamarine-colored Iceberg Lake. Compared to many of the trails in the park, the Iceberg Lake trail is less difficult despite being 9.7 miles long.
The steepest part of the Iceberg Lake trail happens right away initially, but shortly into your hike, the trail flattens out and opens up to the awe-inspiring landscape that introduces you to what is in store for the day. As you ascend on the moderate grades along the lower slope of Mt. Henkel, you will traverse through gorgeous meadows and the sweet smell of pine in the forest. Towering over the Swiftcurrent valley are views of Mt. Grinnell, Swiftcurrent Mountain, and Mt. Wilbur.
Once you have reached the Ptarmigan creek crossing, take a break, eat a snack, and enjoy the crystal clear waters. Continue straight at the Ptarmigan Pass trail junction. The trail winds around Ptarmigan Falls, peaking through the steep terrain and thick trees. Soon the trees start to thin out, revealing the towering cirque that holds Iceberg Lake, Mt. Wilbur, and the nearly vertical 1500 ft Ptarmigan Wall. Follow the trail as it drops down to the lakeshore. Waterfalls from Iceberg Lake, lush alpine meadows, the stunning views of Mt. Wilbur and Iceberg Peak might cause you to slow down to take in all the scenery. After soaking in the beauty of this amazing terrain, retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
5. Siyeh Pass
At 10,014 feet, Mount Siyeh commands the north just 2.2 miles east of Logan Pass on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. George Bird Grinnell (advocate for Glacier National Park’s establishment) named the mountain and the passes for a Blackfoot Native American named “Sai-yeh.” In Blackfeet language, it means Crazy Dog or Mad Wolf.
Glacier National park is loaded with history, from fossils to scrapping locomotive bells for metal to support World War II. From 1926-1929 four bells were placed at Swiftcurrent, Piegan, Siyeh passes, and Scenic Point for hikers and explorers to ring when they have reached their destination. The idea was brought to light by W.R. Mills, influenced by the old Swiss custom of placing bells on mountain tops and passes to let people know down in the valleys they made it.
Most people start on the Siyeh Bend Trailhead off of the Going-To-The-Sun Road. Hiking Siyeh Pass is 8.9 miles of a strenuous climb that will leave you breathless and inspired. This is the highest elevation trail in Glacier Park at 8080 feet. Hikers have the option to use the Piegan Pass Trailhead from the Jackson Glacier Overlook, but it adds more travel distance and hundreds of feet to your climb. This high elevation trail is a great day hike that features red and green rock walls, terminal moraine formations, alpine wildflowers, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Begin your hike traveling alongside Siyeh Creek before entering the forest. After hiking for about 1.1 miles from the trailhead, you will reach the Piegan Pass Trail Junction. Turn left here, or you will be heading down to the Jackson Glacier Overlook. From the junction, hikers will enter the gorgeous Preston Park, a glacially carved valley covered in wildflowers, alpine meadows, and pine trees. The trail eventually crosses Siyeh Creek, where the final ascent to Siyeh pass begins. Hikers will climb a series of switchbacks up 700 ft. When you reach the top of the Saddle, the trail ends, and you have made it!
Hiking in Glacier National Park can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you do while you visit. Remember that you are in Bear Country, and many of these trails enter their habitat. Give all wildlife their space. Please take your trash with you and leave no trace. Some trails may have closures or partial closures. Check the Glacier National Park trail status reports. Places like this are extraordinary, and everyone should experience the magnificence of this immaculate park.
We hope you’ll consider joining Glacier Raft Company for a trip down the river. Our attention to detail, along with a strong emphasis on safety, experience, and customer service, make us the perfect match for your family or group whitewater rafting experience.