Homepage / Excursion Guides / Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Welcome, adventure seekers, to the breathtaking wilderness of Glacier National Park! Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and considered by many as The Crown of the Continent, this park is a haven for hiking enthusiasts. From towering mountain peaks to pristine alpine meadows, Glacier National Park is a treasure trove for those seeking a memorable outdoor experience.

In this article, we'll guide you through our favorite hikes the park has to offer, ensuring you'll make the most of your visit. Whether you're a novice hiker or an experienced backcountry trailblazer, Glacier National Park has something for everyone. So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an unforgettable journey.

Overview of Hiking Glacier National Park

Hikers enjoying the view in Glacier National Park

With over 700 miles of trail to choose from deciding which hikes to add to your list can be a daunting task. Glacier National Park also boasts multiple entrance points and spans just over 1 million acres, so having a plan in place first is essential to a successful day.

Before embarking on your adventure, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the park's regulations and obtain the necessary passes and permits. Check out our guide to Everything You Should Know Before Visiting Glacier National park.

When is the best time to visit for hiking?

To many, it may come as surprise that "winter" lasts a bit longer in the mountains than other parts of the country. Timing is key when visiting Glacier National Park but playing by the rules of nature can make planning a bit difficult.

July and August traditionally see the highest visitation and is considered peak summer throughout the region. While at the mercy of Mother Nature mid-July usually sees full access across the park with Going-to-the-Sun Road typically open by the end of June. However, some trails may still have lingering snow hazards well into August so it's important to check up on trail status before heading out.

Winter can also be a spectacular time of year to visit Glacier National Park. Different seasons come with their own challenges, so check out our guide to Visiting Glacier National Park in Winter.

Best Equipment for Hiking in Glacier National Park

A bear safety sign in Glacier National Park Gearing up for a hike in Glacier National Park is an important step to ensure your adventure will be a safe and memorable experience. When putting together your packing list it's imporant to consider where you plan on hiking and how long you'll be gone for. Backpacking trips deep into the parks interior will require more advanced gear than a family-friendly day hike.

The proper gear can make or break your experience and even when it comes to popular frontcountry trails your safey is never gauranteed. It is your responsibility to keep yourself and others safe, so here's what you'll need:

Hiking Boots

  • Sturdy Boots: Opt for well-fitted, ankle-supporting boots to navigate varied terrains with ease.
  • Weatherproofing: Ensure your boots are water-resistant to tackle unexpected stream crossings or wet conditions.

Weather-appropriate Clothing

  • Layering: Dress in layers to adapt to temperature fluctuations throughout your hike.
  • Rain Gear: Pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket to stay dry during sudden mountain preciptation.

Backpack

  • Water: Hiking can be a workout and you're sure to work up a sweat, staying hydradted is an important step in keeping yourself focused and safe.
  • Extra Clothes: Be prepared for the unexpected, if you find yourself with wet clothing a dry change of clothes can be a lifesaver.

Safety Gear

  • Trail Map: Carrying a detailed map of where you're going can be particularly useful in gauging how much further you have left to go.
  • First Aid Kit: Be prepared for minor injuries with a compact first aid kit, hiking specific kits can come in handy if dealing with blisters.
  • Bear Spray: In bear country, bear spray is a MUST for your safety and the well-being of the wildlife.
  • GPS Locator: If you're headed into the backcountry or off-trail you should always have a way of being found if you get lost. Prodcuts like the Garmin InReach Mini are popular among avid outdoorsmen and women.

Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Hikers along the Highline in Glacier National Park

Hiking in Glacier National Park can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many visitors so it's important to not only hit some of the major highlights, but to find the right trail for you. With a plethora of trails to choose from there are more than enough options for everyone to find the perfect fit.

Popular trails like The Highline, Grinnell Glacier, and St. Mary Falls to name a few will likely have the most traffic and are great examples of "Instagram vs. Reality" so expect large crowds and some creative photography skills to keep the illusion going.

Hidden Lake Overlook

Mielage - 2.7 Miles Elevation Gain - 550 ft. Difficulty - Easy

Accessible from the Logan Pass parking lot and an iconic image of Glacier National Park the Hidden Lake Overlook trail is one of our favorite "bang for your buck" hikes in the park. Expect outstanding views on one of the shortest trails around with alpine meadows and soaring mountain peaks. Whether you join a group, go by yourself, or take a shuttle the drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road from Apgar Village to Logan Pass is one of the most scenic routes in America.

Be sure to stop by the Logan Pass Visitor Center before or after your hike to learn more about the region and use the restroom before you continue your adventure. Prefer to hike on a guided tour? Check out this Guided Hike to Hidden Lake Overlook!

Iceberg Lake

Mileage - 9.7 Miles Elevation Gain - 1,275 ft. Difficulty - Challenging

A popular trail found in the Many Glacier region Iceberg Lake is well-known for it's variety of views and summertime wildflower blooms. A moderate incline from the valley floor along a sweeping ridgeline you'll enjoy dense forested views before breaking above the tree-line a panoramic view of the Swiftcurrent Valley. The aptly named lake is commonplace for dozens of icebergs that dot it's surface in the shadow of a towering 3,000 ft. headwall of glacially carved rock.

Upper McDonald Creek

Mileage - 5.3 Miles Elevation Gain - 210 ft. Difficulty - Moderate

An easy hike that sees less than average foot traffic the Upper McDonald Creek Trail follows its namesake upriver with Going-to-the-Sun Road located on the other side. Enjoy a different perspective of popular roadside stops such as McDonald Falls and Sacred Dancing Cascade. Located in more accessible region of the park this trail is often accessible year-round.

Scenic Point

Mileage - 8 Miles Elevation Gain - 2,300 ft. Difficulty - Strenuous

Overlooking the Two Medicine Valley on the southeastern corner of the park Scenic Point provides one of the most unique perspectives in all of Glacier National Park. Situated high on a ridgeline near the mouth of the valley you'll be treated to the iconic mountainous views of Glacier as well as the sweeping endless plains of central Montana, true Big Sky Country.

When at the summit keep an eye out for the parks most famous rock, Grinnell Argillite, known for it's promitent ripple marks. Believe it or not, these rocks, located about 7,500 ft. above sea level, used be the sand and mud at the bottom of a shallow inland sea!

The Highline

Mileage - 11.8 Miles Elevation Gain - 1,950 ft. Difficulty - Challenging

Arguably the most popular trail in Glacier National Park the Highline begins in Logan Pass and runs parallel to Going-to-the-Sun Road along The Garden Wall, named for its impressive wildflower blooms. With Instagram-worthy views nearly the entire length it's no wonder why this trail sees such high traffic.

Family-Friendly Hikes in Glacier National Park

A family reading an informational sign in Glacier National Park With over 700 miles of trail and seemingly endless mountain terrain, some day hikes are simply out of reach for those traveling with families or who are a little more hesitant about pushing 5+ miles in a day. Whether personal preference or physical ability here are a few great family-friendly trails that are sure to impress.

Running Eagle Falls

Mileage - 0.6 Miles Elevation Gain - 50 ft. Difficulty - Easy

Easily found near just past the entrance into Two Medicine this fully ADA accessible trail offers a wide path from the parking lot to viewing area. A worthy visit for even the most avid hikers the unique location is also nicknamed "Trick Falls". During spring run-off water rushes over the top of the rocky outcropping to create a picturesque 40-ft waterfall. Later in the season as water flows begin to lessen reveals a secondary smaller fall often hidden behind it's larger sibling.

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail

Mileage - 2.7 Miles Elevation Gain - 25 ft. Difficulty - Easy

Beginning from the Many Glacier Hotel this easy loop trail circles Swfitcurrent Lake with exceptional views of the surrounding valley. A calm and leisurely stroll through forested lake views with Grinnell Point as a backdrop is sure to prove why Many Glacier is often referred to as the Heart of Glacier National Park.

Trail of the Cedars

Mileage - 1 Mile Elevation Gain - 60 ft. Difficulty - Easy

A sister trail to Running Eagle Falls the well-trafficked Trail of the Cedars also doubles as the trailhead to Avalanche Lake. Continuing the trek to the lake is optional while this boardwalked loop trail offers serene views of Avalanche Creek and dense old-growth cedar groves.

Curious about hiking to Avalanche Lake? Consider booking a Guided Hike to Avalanche Lake.

avatar
Hunter C
Montana Local, Travel Planner
A travel specialist with industry-wide experience, Hunter grew up in Whitefish and has a love for his home and a passion for sharing it with others. Recently relocated to Nashville, TN and when not helping plan memorable vacations you'll find him and his fiancé exploring their new home and the great outdoors of Tennessee.

Related Tours