Glacier National Park is one of my favorites. I have visited twice and Glacier Park day hikes are a great way to explore the park – both trips were amazing. Too often when you return to a location, it isn’t as fun the second time, but there is so much to explore in Glacier that it felt like seeing an old friend and getting to know them better. Recently I wrote a post about a trail guide-book that I really like and used on both trips – Glacier Day Hikes by Alan Leftridge. I found that many people are searching for not only a good trail guide, but also recommendations for trails. I remember researching our first trip to Glacier and looking for recommended Glacier Park Day Hikes. Here are a few of the trails that I have hiked and my thoughts. Organized by location in the park, this is a combination of the two trips. An additional note, both of my trips to Glacier have been early season – in June – and the park is still waking up from winter – in fact the Going to the Sun Road was still closed due to snow both times. The second visit was in late June, but the snow pack that year was immense and we encountered rough trail conditions on a few trails and more animals than usual due to the snow pack.
This is the first post in a two-post series about hikes that I enjoyed.
West Side Glacier Park Day Hikes.
Logging Lake: The trail is approximately 7 miles south of the Polebridge entrance. This area of the park doesn’t generally have the number of visitors as other areas, and that is part of the attraction to me. This trail is almost 9 miles round trip but isn’t too difficult. The trail, classified as Moderate by Leftridge, is probably due primarily due to length. This trail goes through an area burned during the 1988 Red Bench Fire and seeing how the forest is recovering is part of the interest of the trail. This area also provides wide views before reentering the forest.
There are many areas of the trail that we saw fresh bear tracks and scat – a good reminder that this is a national park, not a city park or zoo. The lake at the end is beautiful and worth the hike. On the way out, stop in Polebridge and spend a few minutes in this small town.
Kintla Lake: This isn’t a hike, but there are several trails up at this corner of the park. The lake is quite a drive, as you are almost at the Canadian border, but it is beautiful. We drove up around sunset just to explore after a good friend recommended it to me. The drive was fun, but challenging with the spring road conditions. If you are looking for a little adventure, it is worth the drive and this corner of the park is relatively quiet.
Lake McDonald Area:
Fish Lake: Park at the Lake McDonald Lodge and cross the main park road. The initial uphill climb is a little steep and has a gain of about 1,000 feet, but is not too difficult. We did have a bear run across the path about 50 feet in front of us along this stretch of the trail. The first part of the trail is shared with several other trails that break off including Mt. Brown Lookout Trail, Sperry/Gunsight Pass Trail and Snyder Lake Trail.
The Fish Lake Trail is one of the last to break off of this trail and is total of 6 miles round trip. There are few views from this trail, but the lake is a great place to bring your lunch and relax before the hike back.
Snyder Lake: This trail shares the same initial climb as Fish Lake and then breaks off. Snyder Lake is almost 9 miles round trip and after it breaks off of the main trail becomes more narrow but well-marked. The tail also crosses an area that is a rock scramble. Sections of the trail are dense and prime bear territory – make noise to reduce the chances of surprising a bear. This is a moderate trail, but worth the hike if you are up to the initial climb and can traverse a scree field.
Avalanche Lake: An easy hike off of the Going to the Sun Road just east of Lake McDonald. This trail shares parking with the Trail of Cedars, which is a 0.7 mile loop of paved, well packed and boardwalk trails. The parking lot fills up quickly. Avalanche Lake is an easy 4 mile round trip and due to location and ease, is generally busy with families and tourist. Still, it is worth the hike.
These are just a few of the many Glacier Park day hikes on the west side of the park. Check back for the second post in this series covering the east side of the park. Glacier Park is a beautiful park and to get the most out of it, you need to get out of your car and explore!