11 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Overview

Known as the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park is truly a sight to behold. Located in NW Montana, the Rocky Mountains own the landscape and present visitors with many challenging but extremely beautiful trails. There is also plenty of wildlife throughout the park including mountain goats, moose, and the park favorite grizzly bear. Grizzlies will often be very near some of the trails listed below so make sure you are hiking in groups and carry bear spray with you wherever you go. We have listed the 11 best hikes in Glacier National Park below, let us know which ones you have done!

Nearest Metro AreaMissoula, MT
Area Size1,012,837 acres
EstablishedMay 11, 1910
Hiking Trails746 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Highline Trail to the Loop (Logan Pass)
Highline Trail, Glacier Nat'l Park
Highline Trail, Glacier Nat’l Park, Photo by David Fulmer

The Highline Trail follows the Continental Divide and is thought to be one of the greatest hikes in the US. The scenery, wildlife, ledges, and overlooks make this a bucket list trail for any avid hiker. The best way to get started on this trail is to park at the Loop on Going to the Sun Road and take the free shuttle up to Logan Pass, then hike back to your car. The trailhead is located just north of the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

  • 11.7 miles one-way
  • 1300′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Grinnell Glacier Trail (Many Glacier)
Grinnel Glacier
Grinnell Glacier, Photo by GlacierNPS

Be sure to pack some bear spray if attempting this hike as this is prime grizzly country! There are boat rides across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine for a fee that would cut 3.4 miles off your hike if you are in a time-crunch. At the southwest end of Lake Josephine, the trail begins to steepen on its way up to one of the most iconic glaciers in the park. Another good hike nearby is the 7 mile roundtrip Grinnell Lake Trail on the south-side of the lakes. The trailhead for Grinnell Glacier Trail is located at the parking area off of Rte 3 west of Swiftcurrent Lake.

  • 10.6 miles out and back
  • 1600′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Iceberg Lake Trail (Many Glacier)
The Trail to Iceberg Lake
The Trail to Iceberg Lake, Photo by GlacierNPS

This is one of the more popular hikes in Glacier. The trail takes you gradually up through open meadows and a forested area before splitting off from Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail (below). Eventually, you’ll end up at Iceberg Lake, aptly named for the numerous icebergs freely floating on the water during summer months. During the winter, the lake is completely frozen. I highly recommend combining this with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail to make an entertaining 15 mile  all-day adventure! The trailhead is located at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking area.

  • 9.7 miles out and back
  • 1300′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail (Many Glacier)
Ptarmigan Lake from the tunnel entrance
Ptarmigan Lake from the tunnel entrance, Photo by sf-dvs

The route to Ptarmigan Tunnel shares the initial and final 2.7 miles as the Iceberg Lake Trail is similarly one of the more popular hikes in Glacier. Dramatic views of the Ptarmigan Wall open up as you get closer to the tunnel. The 240′ long tunnel in the Wall (originally built in 1930) allows hikes to avoid climbing over the steep terrain in order to view the breathtaking scenery on the other side. The trailhead is located at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking area.

  • 10.7 miles out and back
  • 2300′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Pitamakan / Dawson Pass Loop (Two Medicine)
South Two Medicine Lake
South Two Medicine Lake, Photo by jb10okie

This is a long, arduous, but epic loop that is located in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park. The trail features expansive panoramic views of the glacier carved valleys and surrounding mountains. Hopefully the distance won’t deter you as this is one hike that should not be passed up. The trailhead is located next to the Two Medicine Campground.

  • 17.9 mile loop
  • 3300′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Cracker Lake Trail (Many Glacier)
Cracker Lake II
Cracker Lake, Photo by Jeff P

Another great hike in the Many Glacier area, this trail leads you to one of the largest rock faces on the continent, Siyeh Peak. The beginning of the trail is shared with horseback rides so be sure to watch your step. Most of the trail is forested but when you emerge, you are presented with an incredible view of the basin and the turquoise waters of Cracker Lake. The trailhead is located at the parking lot near the Many Glacier Hotel.

  • 12.6 miles out and back
  • 1400′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Siyeh Pass Trail (St. Mary)
Hiker on Siyeh Pass
Hiker on Siyeh Pass, Photo by GlacierNPS

Another one of the hikes in Glacier best completed one-way using the park’s shuttle service. The best way to begin this hike is to leave your car at Sunrift Gorge and take the shuttle to Siyeh Pass before your hike to ensure you get to your vehicle in time. This trail features all of the best of what Glacier has to offer – meadows, mountains with rocky landscapes, glaciers, waterfalls, and more. The trailhead is located at the shuttle stop at Siyeh Bend.

  • 10.2 miles one-way
  • 2200′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Bullhead Lake Trail (Many Glacier)
Redrock Lake and Grinnell Point
Redrock Lake and Grinnell Point, Photo by David Fulmer

This is a beautiful and relatively easy hike in the Many Glacier area with access to lakes, waterfalls, and a good chance to see some wildlife. At about 3.5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll reach a viewpoint overlooking Bullhead Lake and Mount Grinnell; you have the option of continuing up to the top of Swiftcurrent Pass for more incredible views but that portion of the trail is the most difficult hiking in the park. The trailhead is located at the Swiftcurrent Pass Trailhead in the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking area.

  • 7.1 miles out and back
  • 350′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Avalanche Lake Trail (Lake McDonald)
Avalanche Lake- Getting Away From It All
Avalanche Lake, Photo by Tim Rains

One of the more moderate hikes in Glacier, this trail features some of the oldest and tallest trees in the park, waterfalls, and finally, beautiful Avalanche Lake. The lake shoreline and surrounding mountains make for a great place to enjoy your lunch. The trailhead is located just north of the Avalanche Campground.

  • 6.0 miles out and back
  • 600′ elevation gain
  • Easy
St. Mary / Virginia Falls Trail (St. Mary)
virginia falls at Glacier Park
Virginia Falls at Glacier Park, Photo by Jacalyn Engler

St. Mary Falls and the taller Virginia Falls offer hikers a rare, quick trail compared to the majority of the hikes in Glacier. A bridge will let you cross nearby at St. Mary Falls and a spur trail will take you to a platform to view Virginia Falls. The trailhead is near the shuttle stops on Going to the Sun Road, just west of St. Mary Lake.

  • 3.2 miles out and back
  • 300′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Hidden Lake Trail (Logan Pass)
Montana - Glacier NP - Hidden Lake
Montana – Glacier NP – Hidden Lake, Photo by Harshil Shah

Starting from a boardwalk, the trail gradually climbs to the Hidden Lake Overlook featuring panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. This is a great area to view mountain goats and other Glacier wildlife. The trailhead is located right next to the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

  • 2.7 miles out and back
  • 500′ elevation gain
  • Easy

Featured Image: Garden Wall, Photo by Tim Lumley 

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6 Responses

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  2. Carl

    Question for the author / audience. I am planning an impromptu trip to Glacier for the end of this month (May 2019) and will be there from the 28th – 31st. I am currently traveling alone, and would like to do some hiking. Wondering 1) what trails are going to be the best at this time given the road closures / weather conditions and 2) how to find a group or folks to link up with so I don’t hike alone.

    I am not a highly experienced hiker, but am in decent shape and did half dome last fall. Main goals are to see the glaciers, get a good day hike in, and stay safe out there. Any thoughts appreciated.

    • Trailhead Traveler

      Carl – thank you for reaching out! My wife and I hiked Glacier NP last August and although there were ongoing wildfires in the area, I can honestly say it was one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited.

      Given you are only there for a few days and Going to the Sun Road will be closed in the middle of the park, Many Glacier and Two Medicine might be the best places for you to hike – both on the east side of the park. My most recommended hike would be Grinnell Glacier Trail – the hike is so much fun and the views are incredible! It’s about 11 miles roundtrip if you don’t take the ferry and gets you up close and personal with one of the park’s most famous glaciers. The trail is always crowded so you can definitely find a group to go up with. Iceberg and Ptarmigan Tunnel also are great hikes in Many Glacier that can be combined for a longer but manageable experience. In Two Medicine, you have a bunch of shorter hikes to choose from circumnavigating the lake. Or if you’re up for it you can do the full loop if conditions are favorable. If you’re on the west side of the park, I would definitely check out Avalanche Lake Trail.

      Before you go, double check any closures or warnings due to bear activity in the area. There were a few trails closed when we were there but you might get luckier since it is spring time.

      To find groups to hike with, I have always been a fan of the Backpackers Basecamp forum. The users on there are very responsive and you’d more than likely find someone traveling in the area around the same time!

      Really hope you have a great time and if you remember, I’d love to hear how things went when you return!
      Chris / Trailhead Traveler

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