Best Hikes In Many Glacier: Easy & Challenging Trails To Add To Your Glacier National Park Itinerary

If you’ve decided to visit Many Glacier on your trip to Glacier National Park and are now researching which hiking trails in Many Glacier are best for you, you have come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll cover all of the best hikes in Many Glacier that range from easy to challenging.

Iceberg Lake In Glacier National Park

All of the hikes on this list are amazing and you can’t go wrong with any of them. The only problem you’ll have is deciding which hike you want to do. Unless you are planning on spending at least three or four days in Many Glacier, you are going to have to determine which hikes are at the top of your list.

If you don’t hike much or don’t think you are able to take on strenuous trails, do not feel like you are missing out because Many Glacier has several fairly flat and easy hikes that lead to some very beautiful places. And guess what?! You’re just as likely to see wildlife like bears and moose on the shorter trails as you are hiking in the backcountry.

Some of the best hikes for beginners in Many Glacier include the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Loop Trail, the hike to Lake Josephine, the hike to Fishercap Lake, and the hike to Redrock Falls. All of these trails are under four miles return trip and will not take up too much time if you are limited to only one day in this section of the park.

For those of you looking for more challenging day hikes, there are several iconic hikes to choose from such as the hike to Grinnell Glacier and the hike to Iceberg Lake. Some of these longer trails incorporate other shorter trails so essentially you will be completing multiple hikes. For example, the hike to Grinnell Glacier starts out on the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail and then continues along the shores of Lake Josephine.

Many Glacier At A Glance

Before diving into the best hikes in Many Glacier, here are a few things to know to help you plan your trip.

Best Time To Hike: Summer is the best time to hike when all of Glacier National Park’s facilities and roads are open and hiking trails at higher elevations are snow-free. Hiking early fall can also be a great experience when there are less visitors in the park.

Where To Stay: If you’re looking to stay in Many Glacier, you can stay at Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. If you would prefer to stay outside of the park, you can stay at St. Mary Village or St. Mary KOA Campground.

How To Get There: If you are flying into Montana to visit Glacier National Park, the closest airport is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell. From here you can search for car rentals using rentalcars.com or rent an RV or campervan using Outdoorsy.

Iceberg Lake In Glacier National Park

Something that you’ll need to keep in mind about hiking in Glacier National Park is that you will be traveling through grizzly bear country and Many Glacier in particular has a high concentration of bears. Yes, you could even have a grizzly bear encounter on short hikes too. We encountered bears several times on the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail which is less than half a mile from the Many Glacier Hotel.

This means you should be prepared for a bear encounter by always carrying bear spray while hiking in Glacier National Park and knowing what to do in case you do have an encounter.

Best Hiking Trails In Many Glacier

Here are the best hikes in Many Glacier. Each trail listed will cover all of the necessary information such as distance and elevation gain, as well as a detailed trail description so that you know what to expect on your hike. 

Psst! Do you want to hike in other areas of the park? See this post on the 17 most breathtaking hikes in Glacier National Park which covers West Glacier, Logan Pass, and Two Medicine.

Iceberg Lake – 9.6 miles (15.5km)

Iceberg Lake Hike In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 9.6 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet (366 m)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 6-7 hours
  • Trailhead: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead

The Iceberg Lake hiking trail is easily one of the best hikes you can do in Glacier National Park. Why is that you ask? Because this hiking trail is full of beauty almost the entire way up! This popular hiking trail ascends an incredibly scenic valley before reaching a stunning alpine lake with the most brilliant turquoise-colored water that will take your breath away.

The icy-cold, teal lake is famous for its floating icebergs which add to the dramatic scenery here. If that wasn’t enough to excite you, Iceberg Lake sits at the base of a steep-walled cirque which is just spectacular to see up close!

Begin the hike to Iceberg Lake at the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead which is located behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The first section of the Iceberg Lake trail is incredible. It passes through open terrain that offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks which include Mount Grinnell (8,851ft), Swiftcurrent Mountain (8,436ft), and Mount Wilbur (9,321ft) before heading into a heavily forested area.

At about 2.5 miles you’ll come to a small clearing that overlooks Ptarmigan Falls. Above Ptarmigan Falls is a rocky area that has several small pools filled with beautiful colored rocks that are fun to explore. This is a great spot to take a quick break.

Continuing on from Ptarmigan Falls, the hiking trail emerges from the heavily forested area, where you’ll get your first glimpse of the steep cirque that towers above Iceberg Lake.

The Iceberg Lake Trail now travels briefly through a picturesque alpine meadow filled with colorful wildflowers before coming to an end at the shores of Iceberg Lake. Iceberg Lake, which is nestled under a lofty steep-sided rock wall, has teal-colored water so vivid, it almost seems unbelievable.

You’ll quickly realize why this is one of the top hikes in Glacier National Park. Iceberg Lake is indeed one of the most stunning lakes in Glacier!

>>Read: Hike To Iceberg Lake – Why This Trail Needs To Be On Your Glacier National Park Hiking Bucket List!

Ptarmigan Tunnel – 10.6 miles (17km)

Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike In Glacier National Park
  • Distance: 10.6 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet (701 m)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Trailhead: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead
  • *Tunnel doors are generally open mid-July to late September

The hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel is another popular hike in Many Glacier that offers spectacular alpine scenery. This hiking trail will take you high above the Many Glacier Valley and through a tunnel that overlooks the adjacent U-shaped, Belly River Valley.

Begin the trail at the Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead which is located behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The first portion of the Ptarmigan Tunnel hike is shared with the Iceberg Lake hiking trail up until Ptarmigan Falls.

On the way to Ptarmigan Falls, you’ll ascend the Many Glacier Valley where you’ll see spectacular mountain views before reaching a forested area. Once you reach Ptarmigan Falls (at about 2.5 miles in) and emerge from the forested area, you’ll come across a trail junction. Turn right to hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel.

From the trail junction, the hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel starts to climb steeply for the next half mile. This section travels through a thick huckleberry patch so be sure to make a lot of noise in case there are any bears around.

Ptarmigan Wall with its jagged, shark-like teeth, now towers 1,700 feet above the Ptarmigan Tunnel trail. The Ptarmigan Wall is what’s known as an arête, which is defined as a thin ridge of rock separating two valleys that have been carved by glaciers. In this case, the Ptarmigan Wall separates the Many Glacier Valley from the Belly River Valley. Another example of an arête in Glacier National Park is the Garden Wall which you can see from the Going-To-The-Sun Road and the Highline Trail.

At about 4.5 miles, you will reach Ptarmigan Lake. There is a short side trail that can be taken down to the lake’s shore. This is a good place to spot Bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Continuing past Ptarmigan Lake, the final stretch of the trail climbs two very steep switchbacks, before reaching Ptarmigan Tunnel. Don’t give up now, keep pushing because you are in for a real treat!

You will now be at the top of the ridge. Look back and take in the amazing views of the valley you have just hiked out of. Then walk through the tunnel into another world of wonder! On the other side of Ptarmigan Tunnel are commanding views of the Belly River Valley. Take in the incredible views of Natoas Peak, Crosley Ridge, the Belly River, Elizabeth Lake, and Mount Merritt.

The 240-foot Ptarmigan Tunnel was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s for horses and park tours. It was carved out with the use of jackhammers and dynamite, and completed within three months.

If you’re up for a challenging hike that offers dramatic scenery, be sure to add the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail to your Many Glacier hiking bucket list!

Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail – 2.7 mile loop (4.3km)

Swiftcurrent Lake Hiking Trail In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 2.7 miles (loop)
  • Elevation Gain: flat
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Trailhead: Many Glacier Hotel or Grinnell Glacier Trailhead

The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is an easy hiking trail in Many Glacier that loops around Swiftcurrent Lake. Along the trail are pretty lake views, but the best view that can be seen is from right in front of the Many Glacier Hotel. From the hotel looking out across the lake, you’ll see the 7,600 foot tall Grinnell Point standing directly behind the lake and Mount Wilbur (9,321ft) sitting a little further back towards the west.

Begin this hike at either the Many Glacier Hotel or at the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead. You can complete the loop in whichever direction you prefer. The first quarter mile past the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead is wheelchair accessible.

I recommend beginning this hike at the Many Glacier Hotel as there is more parking space here. Starting from the Many Glacier Hotel, you’ll travel through a pleasant forested area with lodgepole pine, spruce, fir and aspen trees. From this side of the lake are peek-a-boo mountain views and access to small beach areas beside the lake which are perfect for picnicking and relaxing.

At about a quarter mile in you will arrive at a footbridge that crosses over Swiftcurrent Creek. Stop and see if you can see any trout swimming in the water or moose in the wetland areas. A little further on, there is a boat dock. Be sure to stop and see the views of the Many Glacier Hotel from the dock.

Then continue through another forested area. Be sure to keep an eye out for bears along the way because black bears and grizzly bears do frequent this part of the trail. End your hike back at the Many Glacier Hotel.

This is the perfect hiking trail for you if you are looking for a flat and easy trail that is family-friendly, or a hike that won’t take up too much time.

Lake Josephine – 5.8 miles (9.3km)

Lake Josephine Hiking Trail In Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
  • Distance: 5.8 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 225 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Trailhead: Many Glacier Hotel or Grinnell Glacier Trailhead

The Lake Josephine Loop Trail is an outstanding hiking trail in Many Glacier that is considered easy to moderate depending on your fitness level and how much of the trail you actually want to complete. It offers beautiful views of Lake Josephine and can be combined with the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail for an even longer hike.

Begin this hike at either the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or at the Many Glacier Hotel and hike in whichever direction you prefer. I recommend beginning the hike from Many Glacier Hotel as there is more parking space here.

From the Many Glacier Hotel, the trail travels through a pleasant forested area alongside Swiftcurrent Lake. Then you’ll jump onto the Lake Josephine Loop trail and hike for 1.5 miles along the east side of Lake Josephine before crossing onto the west side of the lake. Hike for 1.5 miles back to the start of Lake Josephine to complete the loop before heading back on the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail to Many Glacier Hotel. Alternatively, you can hike back on the other side of Swiftcurrent Lake back to the hotel.

To make this hike more challenging, you could even hike up to Grinnell Glacier once you reach the end of Lake Josephine. To make this hike easier, you can take the shuttle boat from one end of Lake Josephine to the other if you’d like to minimize the mileage.

Grinnell Glacier – 10.4 miles (16.7km)

The Hike To Grinnell Glacier Is One Of The Best Hiking Trails In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 10.4 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Strenuous
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Trailhead: Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel

The hike to Grinnell Glacier has it all; stunning alpine scenery, wildflower-filled meadows, turquoise lakes, glaciers, and wildlife galore! This iconic hiking trail in Many Glacier is one of the most popular hiking trails in Glacier National Park.

So fantastic is this hike that it not only is one of the best things to do in Montana, but it also makes it onto this USA bucket list. Yep, this is a hike that you need to experience at least once in your lifetime if you get the opportunity.

On this day hike, you’ll get to see four beautiful lakes including Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake, and Upper Grinnell Lake.

Begin the trail at either the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or at the Many Glacier Hotel. The first two miles travels alongside Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, climbing in elevation only slightly. Once you get about halfway up Lake Josephine, the trail begins to ascend steeply leading to some spectacular viewpoints that overlook the Grinnell Valley and Grinnell Lake.

Along this stretch of the Grinnell Glacier hiking trail you are likely to come across grizzly bears, mountain goats, and Bighorn sheep.

Continue the hike until you reach your final destination, Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier. No doubt you’ll be awestruck by the beauty of Upper Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier, and the Garden Wall which soars behind the lake and glacier.

Piegan Pass – 16.6 miles (27km)

Best Hikes In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 13 – 16.8 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 2,650 feet (805 m)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Time: 9-11 hours
  • Trailhead: Piegan Pass Trailhead (Many Glacier Hotel Parking Lot)

The hike to Piegan Pass is a very long day hike! It begins at the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot and travels along the Swiftcurrent Lake Trail before continuing alongside Lake Josephine. To shave a few miles of this day hike, hikers can take the shuttle boat to the head of Lake Josephine. This would reduce the 16.8 mile hike to a 13 mile round trip hike.

From the boat dock at the head of Lake Josephine, a narrow spur trail ascends for 0.4 miles to a junction with the Piegan Pass Trail. Turn right on the Piegan Pass Trail in the direction of Morning Eagle Falls and Piegan Pass.

Follow the trail as it ascends through forest and meadows. Openings along the trail offer amazing views of Mt. Grinnell, the Garden Wall, Angel Wing, and Mount Gould. At approximately 3.2 miles in from Lake Josephine, you’ll reach the base of Morning Eagle Falls which spills over a ledge before plunging down a steep cliff.

From Morning Eagle Falls, the trail takes a sharp left and starts climbing moderately steep switchbacks through forest and intermittent meadows. In summer, these meadows turn into a carpet of wildflowers. Eventually you’ll be above the timberline and at 5 miles into the hike, another set of switchbacks will appear that climb the west facing flanks of Cataract Mountain. These switchbacks are very steep and relentless, but at 6.2 miles, the switchbacks end. Hooray!

You are now at the top of Piegan Pass!! Cross the pass to see excellent views of Mount Siyeh, Matahpi Peak, and the Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. Once you are done taking in the incredible panoramic views, you’ll need to hike back the same way you came.

Note that with some planning, you can continue over the pass on the Piegan Pass Trail as it drops down to Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. From there, catch a shuttle bus back to Many Glacier.

*Note that the Piegan Pass hiking trail can actually be accessed via the Going-To-The-Sun Road too.

Fishercap Lake – 1.0 mile (1.6km)

Moose At Fishercap Lake In Many Glacier - Glacier National Park
  • Distance: 1 mile (return)
  • Elevation Gain: Flat
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 0.5-1 hour
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Trailhead (By Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Parking Lot)

The hike to Fishercap Lake is the easiest hike in Many Glacier. Although it is an easy hike, it is still an incredibly rewarding destination to visit.

Begin this hike at the Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn). About 0.3 miles into this hike, you’ll come across a spur trail down to Fishercap Lake. Take the very short spur trail down to Fishercap Lake’s shores.

Fishercap Lake is a large tranquil lake that offers incredible mountain vistas and forest views. Feel free to roam the lake’s entire shoreline if you have time, or take a front row seat on the sandy beach and wait for resident wildlife to appear. Moose are frequently seen at Fishercap Lake, as are black bears, grizzly bears, and deer.

Redrock Lake – 1.5 miles (2.4km)

Hike To Red Rock Lake In Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
  • Distance: 1.5 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 70 feet (28 m)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1-1.5 hours
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (By Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Parking Lot)

The hike to Red Rock Lake is an easy journey that begins at Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn). On this hike you’ll pass tranquil Fishercap Lake on your way to another serene lake called Red Rock Lake.

About 0.3 miles into this hike, you’ll come across a spur trail down to Fishercap Lake. Be sure to stop and see the lake as it is such a peaceful and beautiful place. If you’re lucky enough, you may see a moose or two foraging in the lake.

Continue along Swiftcurrent Pass Trail under a thick canopy of trees. During the right season, you may be able to pick huckleberries along the way for a tasty treat. At about 1.7 miles in, you will reach Red Rock Lake’s shoreline.

The vistas from Red Rock Lake are terrific and include commanding views of 8,851-foot Mount Grinnell and 8,8436-foot Swiftcurrent Mountain. Look closely at Swiftcurrent Mountain and see if you can spot the fire tower on top.

Once you are done enjoying the lake, head back the same way you came, but if you have some energy left, continue on to visit Red Rock Falls which is located at the far end of this lake.

Redrock Falls – 3.6 miles (5.8km)

Red Rocks Falls Hike In Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
  • Distance: 3.6 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet (30.5m)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (By Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Parking Lot)

The hike to Red Rock Falls is an easy journey that begins at Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn). On this hike you’ll pass two shimmering lakes on your way to one of the prettiest waterfalls in Glacier National Park.

Fishercap Lake is the first lake you’ll pass by. You can take the short spur trail down to the lake on your way to Red Rock Falls or upon returning. If this is an early morning hike for you, be sure to check Fishercap Lake for moose first as you are more likely to spot moose early morning or late afternoon.

The hike then continues under a thick canopy of trees with some open areas along the way before arriving at Red Rock Lake, the second destination on this hike. Red Rock Lake is about 1.7 miles in from the trailhead. Be sure to stop and see the views from here because they are very beautiful. You’ll be able to see Mount Grinnell and Swiftcurrent Mountain.

Continue along the hiking trail towards the northern shore of the lake. Once you get closer to the end of the lake, you’ll pass some red rock formations that will require hiking up. Keep a lookout for an unmarked split in the trail, you will need to take this spur trail to get down to the lower falls.

From the lower falls, there are a number of rocks you can scramble across to get closer to the waterfall and also to get a better look at the upper cascades. Hopefully you have brought your camera as Red Rock Falls is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in Glacier National Park.

Swiftcurrent Pass – 13.6 miles (22km)

Moose On A Hiking Trail In Many Glacier, Montana
Moose on Swiftcurrent Pass Hiking Trail
  • Distance: 13.6 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet (701 m)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Time: 8-11 hours
  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead (By Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Parking Lot)

The hike to Swiftcurrent Pass and back to the trailhead is a long day hike! Begin at the Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead which starts near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.

On this trail you’ll pass by several beautiful lakes that were mentioned above; Fishercap Lake, Redrock Lake, Red Rock Falls, and Bullhead Lake. You can stop and see them on your way up to the pass or wait until you return. I recommend visiting Fishercap Lake once you return as it will be late afternoon by then and a high possibility that you may see moose foraging in the lake during the evening.

Most of this trail is relatively flat and easy with very little elevation up until the last stretch of the hike. This trail travels through the Swiftcurrent Valley and offers incredible views of towering peaks on either side of the valley the entire length of the trail.

One thing to note about this hike is that it is not as highly trafficked as other hiking trails in the park. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great not having to hike with hoards of other people as of course it’s a more peaceful experience, but on the other hand it can be a little daunting traveling through grizzly territory alone.

The majority of hikers will turn back at Red Rock Falls. Beyond Red Rock Falls, the trail becomes very narrow because there are VERY thick patches of tall bush that encroach on the trail the rest of the way. This makes it very hard to see if there are any bears nearby. And trust me, they are in there. And a lot closer to you than you think!

We had plenty of anxiety-inducing bear encounters on this trail. Too many. Because it is very hard to see the bears thanks to the tall vegetation, you often won’t see them until you are basically standing right near them. They are very quiet creatures. Keep an eye out for fresh bear scat if you choose to hike this trail, and be sure to make a lot of noise!

Although the bears definitely did not seem interested in anything other than berries, the problem with this trail is that because it’s so narrow, if you were to come around a bend and face to face with a grizzly, it would be very hard to step out of the way. Be on high alert and careful when going around bends on this trail.

Anyway, this hike is very beautiful, so if you can brave being in grizzly country, continue on until you get to the pass. At about four miles in, you’ll reach the end of the valley and reach a point where the hike begins to climb. There are several tough switchbacks but as you get higher, the views get better.

You can continue on up until you reach the top of the pass where you’ll have the option to visit the Swiftcurrent Pass Fire Lookout Tower. If you’re tired, you can hike up part way up the pass and turn back whenever you feel things are getting too hard.

Apikuni Falls – 2 miles return (3.2km)

11 Best Hikes In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 2 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet (213 m)
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Strenuous
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Trailhead: Apikuni Parking Area

If you enjoy chasing waterfalls, this is the hike for you! Apikuni Falls is a stunning, two-tiered waterfall that stands at about 150 feet high. The dramatic waterfall comes from Natahki Lake which is situated about two miles away from where the waterfall drops.

This hike is very short, at only one mile each way. But don’t be fooled, this hiking trail is very steep and can be quite challenging. Although a two mile hike can usually be completed within one hour, allow yourself an extra thirty to sixty minutes in case you need to rest along the way. In total, the suggested hiking time for Apikuni Falls is about two hours.

The Apikuni Trail begins at the Apikuni Parking Area which you can find along the road that leads into Many Glacier. This hiking trail is shared with the trail to Poia Lake.

At first you will hike through open terrain but shortly thereafter you will need to hike through a forested area. As always when hiking in Glacier National Park, be sure to make some noise when traveling through forested areas so you don’t surprise any bears that might be on the trail. I don’t want to alarm you, but you should know that grizzly and black bears heavily frequent this part of Many Glacier. Be sure you have bear spray on you, and that it is within easy reach.

As you begin to ascend higher on the trail, you will catch a glimpse of the waterfall. Keep going until you are out of the forested area and above the tree line. From here, with some scrambling involved, you will be able to get very close to the base of Apikuni Falls. It’s really up to you how high you want to climb and how close you want to get to the waterfall’s base.

Cracker Lake – 12.8 miles (20.5 km)

11 Best Hikes In Many Glacier
  • Distance: 13 miles (return)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,900 feet (427 m)
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Time: 7-9 Hours
  • Trailhead: South End of Many Glacier Hotel Parking Lot

The hike to Cracker Lake is one of the most under-rated hiking trails in Glacier National Park. Although this hike requires a full day commitment, the effort is well worth it once you reach the beautiful Cracker Lake which is truly a hidden gem in Many Glacier.

The trailhead for the hike to Cracker Lake begins at Many Glacier Hotel’s parking lot. There is a sign to point you in the right direction. Once you are on the trail, you’ll travel through a narrow path through the woods that wraps around the edge of Sherburne Lake. At about one mile in, you will emerge from the thick forest into the Cracker Flats area where you can enjoy outstanding views of Sherburne Lake.

If you are able to get up to Sherburne Lake early in the morning before the wind picks up, you will see the mountains in the distance reflected in perfectly still waters creating a magnificent scene.

After the flats area, the trail goes back into the forest where there are a few creek crossings over wooden bridges. The trail then begins to slowly climb up several switchbacks before ascending a ridge where you can see two creeks flowing; Canyon Creek on the left, and Allen Creek on the right.

At about three miles in, the trail emerges from the forest again but not for long. It goes back into the forest for what seems like a very long time. The next time the trail emerges from the forest will be at about 4.5 miles in from the trailhead. Now you’ll be travelling through open terrain with views of Mount Siyeh (10,014ft) and Allen Mountain (9,376ft) directly in front of you.

Finally you will reach the north end of Cracker Lake at about 5.8 miles in. There is no doubt you’ll be awestruck by the lake’s unbelievable turquoise color. Stunning mountains stand imposingly behind the lake adding to the captivating scenery.

Although you could finish your hike here at the Cracker Lake Overlook, continue another half mile to a rocky outcrop for the best views of Cracker Lake. Like most of the glacially-fed lakes in Glacier, the incredible vivid turquoise color of Cracker Lake is due to light refraction through suspended glacial silt. The color of the lake will be brighter on sunny days.

Do you still have energy left? Continue hiking towards the old Cracker Lake Mine Site which was established in 1897 after copper was discovered on the south shore of the lake. Although entering the old mine is forbidden, hikers can explore abandoned machinery and mine tailings. Be careful though as there could be toxic material around.

Beyond the mine, the Cracker Lake Trail ends near the lake’s shoreline at the far end of the lake. Here you’ll find a backcountry campground that has three campsites. If you do want to overnight camp, you’ll need to get a backcountry permit first.

Here are some things you should know about hiking to Cracker Lake.

  • It is a very long day hike! Set aside around seven or eight hours which should allow you to enjoy the lake for about an hour or two and to stop and get some photos along the way. Although the trail is long, there is nothing technical about it so anyone with stamina can complete this hike.
  • This hiking trail is a hidden gem! What does that mean? It means you are likely in for a few hours of solitude. Unlike other hikes in Glacier National Park, this trail doesn’t see as many hikers.
  • The wildlife viewing is fantastic! Because this trail doesn’t see as many visitors, there is a lot of wildlife in the area. Expect to see bears, moose, pika, and marmots.
  • This is prime grizzly bear habitat! The Cracker Lake hiking trail travels through heavily forested areas and places bursting with berry patches. This area has a reputation for bear sightings so be extra careful. The lack of hikers in large numbers mean that you could easily startle a bear if it doesn’t hear you coming so be sure to make a lot of noise as you hike. And carry bear spray!
  • The Cracker Lake Trail is shared with horses from the concessioners corral at Many Glacier. For an alternative way to reach and see Cracker Lake, book a guided horseback ride to the lake with Many Glacier Trail Rides.
  • For a shorter day hike, hike to Cracker Flats. If you don’t have time to hike to Cracker Lake, consider hiking just to Cracker Flats where you can see outstanding views of Sherburne Lake.

Pin For Later!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *