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16 of the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park That Are Perfect for Taking in the View

A triangular mountain basked in pink alpenglow reflected in a blue lake. Hidden Lake is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Glacier National Park is well-known for its incredible hiking trails. I’ve only been to the park once myself, but my hike to Cracker Lake still stands as one of my favorite trails in the country. In no particular order, these are the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

I’ve separated the best hikes in Glacier National Park into easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes to make it easier to sort through and plan your Glacier National Park hiking trip.

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Maps of Glacier National Park Hikes

A map of the best hikes in Glacier National Park
Source: NPS

Most of the best hikes in Glacier National Park can be found on these maps created by the National Park Service. The maps are divided into five popular areas in the park. The areas, links to the maps, and the Glacier National Park hikes they include are:

  • Lake McDonald: Avalanche Lake, McDonald Creek, Trail of the Cedars
  • Many Glacier: Apikuni Falls, Cracker Lake, Grinnell Glacier, Grinnell Lake, Iceberg Lake, Ptarmigan Lake, Redrock Falls, Swiftcurrent Pass
  • North Fork and Goat Haunt: I didn’t include any trails from this area on the list, but it still has some wonderful options!
  • St. Mary and Logan Pass: Haystack Butte, Hidden Lake Overlook, Highline Trail, St. Mary Falls, Siyeh Pass
  • Two Medicine: I didn’t include any trails from this area on the list, but it still has some wonderful options!

For a map of the entire park, visit this page or purchase your own.

What to Pack for Hiking in Glacier National Park

For more recommendations, read about my favorite outdoor gear and the best daypacks for women.

Hiking in Glacier National Park means hiking in bear country. Read my post on bear safety in national parks to prepare yourself and carry bear spray where it is permitted.

The 10 Hiking Essentials

Every hiker should always carry the ten essentials with them. These include:

A collection of the ten essential items for hiking: shelter, water, food, matches, tools, a light, insulating layers, navigation, sun protection, and first-aid
  1. Navigation systems: map, compass, and/or GPS
  2. Sun protection: sunscreen and/or ballcap
  3. Insulating layers: synthetic or down jacket, rain jacket, hat, gloves, and leggings
  4. Illumination (flashlight or headlamp)
  5. First-aid kit
  6. Something to light a fire: lighter, waterproof matches, and/or fire starter
  7. Repair kits and tools: pocket knife, duct tape, screwdriver, and/or scissors
  8. Emergency shelter: tent, bivy, tarp, and/or space blanket
  9. Nutrition: food for both meals and snacks
  10. Hydration: water bottle, water treatment (LifeStraw or SteriPen), and water

The Best Hikes in Glacier National Park Rated Easy

St. Mary Falls

The great thing about so many glaciers in one place is the amount of beautiful turquoise water they create. Throughout the park, you’ll find many gorgeous rivers, lakes, and waterfalls (many of which are on this list of the best hikes in Glacier National Park). St. Mary Falls is one of the easiest and shortest options. You’ll descend from the parking area, then make your way back up on your way out. If you continue, you can see Virginia Falls as well.

A blue waterfall cascading down a brown rock wall. St. Mary Falls is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.2 mi / 1.9 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 260 ft / 79 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: St. Mary Falls Trailhead

Note: You can begin this trail from the St. Mary Falls Shuttle Stop or using a boat from Rising Sun to shorten your trip. You can also visit Virginia Falls by following the trail an additional 0.6 miles (0.4 km).

Trail of the Cedars

The Trail of the Cedars is a beautiful trail in Glacier that features a river and a thriving forest. Walking through, you’ll feel like you’re in a rainforest as you’re completely surrounded by bright green moss. This trail is accessible, making it suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.

A trail through a mossy green grove of trees. Trail of the Cedars is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 0.7 mi / 1.1 km round-trip

Elevation Gain: Negligible

Type of Trail: Loop

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Avalanche Picnic Area

Note: This trail is accessible.

Grinnell Lake

Grinnell Glacier and its lake are two of the most popular and best hikes in Glacier National Park. Reaching the lake is much easier than getting to the glacier itself. While the trail is a bit lengthy for an easy hike, the elevation gain is minimal and the walk is astoundingly beautiful. You’ll see Swiftcurrent Lake (pictured at the top of this post) and Josephine Lake on your way to Grinnell.

A visitor stands on an iceberg in a turquoise lake. Grinnell Lake is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS Photo

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.4 mi / 5.5 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 60 ft / 18 m

Type of Trail: Out and back, though you can loop around Josephine Lake if you’re interested in a longer hike.

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Many Glacier Hotel or Grinnell Glacier Trailhead

Note: You can take the Many Glacier Hotel boat to shorten this hike to one mile. Horses may be seen along the trail.

Redrock Falls

If you’re interested in more waterfalls, Redrock Falls is another easy option. You’ll take the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail (a strenuous hike we will cover later in this post) to the falls and then turn around. On the way, you’ll also pass Redrock Lake. These falls tend to be more active than the more tranquil Virginia Falls and St. Mary Falls discussed above, though they are not as tall.

A rapid waterfall cascading down a group of rocks. Red Rock Falls is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.8 mi / 2.9 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 100 ft / 31 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Swiftcurrent Trailhead (by Motor Inn parking lot)

McDonald Creek

McDonald Creek is a great option year-round but is especially popular in winter when ice forms on the creek. The rocky canyon walls along the side of the creek also provide great stability for incredible icicle formations. If you walk a bit beyond the maintained trail, you’ll also see small cascades. The diversity is what makes this one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

Brown mountains reflected in a still creek. McDonald Creek is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5 mi / 8 km round-trip

Elevation Gain: 213 ft / 65 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: The end of McDonald Road

Apikuni Falls

Yet another gorgeous waterfall hike in Glacier National Park is Apikuni Falls. To get there, follow the Appekunny Creek Trail to the falls. While the trail is considered easy, there is considerable elevation gain as you climb up to the falls. The way back is entirely downhill.

Apikuni Falls

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1 mi / 1.6 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 700 ft / 213 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Apikuni Parking Area

The Best Hikes in Glacier National Park Rated Moderate

Avalanche Lake

In the middle of the Trail of the Cedars from the list of easy Glacier National Park hikes, you’ll eventually find Avalanche Lake. Of all the lakes you can hike to in Glacier National Park, this is one of the easiest as well as the most beautiful. The trail begins on an accessible route along the Trail of the Cedars, but the full trail is not accessible. You can’t miss this if you’re hoping to see some brilliant lakes while completing some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

Snowy mountains reflected in Avalanche Lake, which is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 2.3 mi / 3.7 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 500 ft / 152 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Avalanche Picnic Area

Iceberg Lake

This long trail follows a ridgeline through beautiful fields of wildflowers as you make your way to a stunning lake. There is one steep section at the start of the trail; the rest of the hike is gradual. Use caution when you return as the steep drop can be difficult on your knees. You’ll also get to enjoy Ptarmigan Falls along the way. Not only is this area scenic, but there is also a small outhouse nearby. Shortly after, the trail forks toward Iceberg Lake and the Ptarmigan Trail.

A rocky brown trail through green shrubs toward mountains. Iceberg Lake is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.8 mi / 7.7 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft / 366 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead

Note: Be especially cautious of grizzly bears on this trail.

Hidden Lake Overlook

This is probably the most popular hike in the park, and that’s because it’s one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park. When I visited in 2016, I tried to hike this trail but couldn’t find parking. The parking lot at the Logan Pass Visitor Center fills up quickly, so I recommend taking a shuttle or arriving as early as possible. Use caution and be bear aware while hiking this trail; portions of it have been closed in recent years due to bear activity.

An overlook with a triangular peak above a blue lake. Hidden Lake Overlook is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.4 mi / 2.2 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 460 ft / 140 m

Type of Trail: Out and  back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Logan Pass Visitor Center

Note: The trail continues to Hidden Lake, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) and 780 feet (238 m) of gain to the hike.

Cracker Lake Trail

This is my absolute favorite trail in Glacier National Park. My favorite part is climbing the switchbacks and overlooking the beautiful vistas and lakes along the way. Then, you suddenly round a corner and find the tranquil Cracker Lake. Even upon seeing it with my own eyes, I couldn’t believe the pure turquoise color. In addition to a great hike, this is also a wonderful backcountry camping spot.

Read More: Hiking Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park

A turquoise lake below a small glacier. Cracker Lake is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, and my personal favorite.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 6.4 mi / 10.3 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft / 427 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Many Glacier Hotel parking lot (south side)

Note: You may encounter horses on this trail.

Haystack Butte

The Haystack Butte is located on the Highline Trail that parallels the Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the most scenic drives in America. The full trail is covered in the section on strenuous hikes. You’ll climb to the top of the Butte, take in the vistas from the top and along the way, then return where you started. The parking lot at the Logan Pass Visitor Center fills up quickly, so I recommend taking a shuttle or arriving as early as possible.

A small creek runs through a green canyon toward the mountains. Haystack Butte is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Tim Rains

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 8.2 mi / 13.2 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 1,689 ft / 515 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Logan Pass Visitor Center

The Best Hikes in Glacier National Park Rated Strenuous

Grinnell Glacier

This is another one of the most popular and best hikes in Glacier National Park. You’ll walk on the opposite side of Josephine Lake than you would if you were visiting Grinnell Lake. This takes you beyond Grinnell Lake all the way to Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier. This is easily one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park with its stunning blue water. Though difficult, it is worth the trek.

A turquoise lake below an icy glacier. Grinnell Glacier is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS Photo

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 5.3 mi / 8.5 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft / 488 m

Type of Trail:

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel

Note: To shorten the hike, you can use a boat from the Many Glacier Hotel.

Highline Trail

The Highline Trail is one of the most famous trails in Glacier National Park. The trail runs parallel to the world-renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road. The first half (beginning from Logan Pass) is considered relatively easy with a gradual elevation gain. From that point, the trail drops significantly until you arrive at the Chalet. The trail can be narrow in places and has steep drop-offs, so it may not be suitable for people with a fear of heights. Along the way, you’ll be treated to extraordinary views. The trail intersects with many others allowing for other options if you don’t want to hike the full length.

A female hiker in red on a trail above mountains, taking in the view. The Highline Trail is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 14.9 mi / 24 km round-trip

Elevation Gain: 2,578 ft / 786 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: The trail runs between Logan Pass Visitor Center and the Granite Park Chalet.

Swiftcurrent Pass

The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail runs through the Swiftcurrent Valley. Beginning near the Motor Inn by the Many Glacier Campground, you can follow the trail to many destinations, including the Highline Trail or Swiftcurrent Mountain, as the map below details. This strenuous hike is for experienced hikers with navigation and backcountry skills.

An overlook with mountains and lakes from Swiftcurrent Pass, which is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS Photo

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 6.8 mi / 10.9 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft / 701 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Swiftcurrent Trailhead by the Motor Inn parking lot

Ptarmigan Lake

This difficult trail leads you to Ptarmigan Lake along Ptarmigan Trail. You’ll find a waterfall along the way with a small outhouse nearby. Then, the trail forks to Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Lake. When you veer right at the fork, the trail is almost entirely uphill from here to the lake. Ptarmigan Trail continues beyond the lake if you wish to continue. A well-known feature along the trail is the Ptarmigan Tunnel carved into the rock so hikers could pass.

Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 4.3 mi / 6.9 km one-way

Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft / 518 m

Type of Trail:

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead

Siyeh Pass

Last but certainly not least is the Siyeh Pass Trail. You’ll begin either at the parking area near Siyeh Bend or the Sunrift Gorge pullout near the St. Mary River. You’ll follow the Siyeh Bend, Piegan Pass, and Siyeh Pass trails to make your way through the valley. The trail connects back with Going-to-the-Sun Road on both ends making it easy to caravan or carpool back to the start if you don’t wish to return on the trail.

A hiker on a brown trail below brown mountains. Siyeh Pass is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
NPS Photo

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 4.6 mi / 7.4 km round-trip

Elevation Gain: 2,240 ft / 683 m

Type of Trail: Out and back

MapAll Trails map

Trailhead Location: Piegan Pass Trailhead

Note: You can also begin from the Sunrift Gorge Pullout, which lengthens the hike to 5.5 miles (8.9 km) with 3,440 feet (1,049 m) of gain.

Pin the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

There you have it – the best trails in Glacier National Park. What about you – what are your favorite hikes in Glacier National Park?

With over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, it's hard to choose. Here are the best hikes in Glacier National Park. Download the free checklist! | Best Hikes in Glacier National Park | #glacier #nationalparks #montana
With over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, it's hard to choose. Here are the best hikes in Glacier National Park. Download the free checklist! | Best Hikes in Glacier National Park | #glacier #nationalparks #montana
With over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, it's hard to choose. Here are the best hikes in Glacier National Park. Download the free checklist! | Best Hikes in Glacier National Park | #glacier #nationalparks #montana
With over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, it's hard to choose. Here are the best hikes in Glacier National Park. Download the free checklist! | Best Hikes in Glacier National Park | #glacier #nationalparks #montana

Farrah

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Glacier National Park is on my travel bucket list, and I'm really hoping to get to go there once travel is okay to do again! Definitely looking forward to Avalanche Lake, Cracker Lake Trail, Grinnell Glacier, and Hidden Lake Overlook! Those colors are unreal! <3

Riley (The Parks Expert)

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

You have to see them to believe them!

Yvette @Yvettheworld

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

All these parks look amazing! Especially the ones with the lakes, creeks, waterfalls and viewpoints :)

Riley (The Parks Expert)

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

I hope you get to visit one day!

Katie

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Gorgeous! My sister has been here and it seems like such an incredible park. I'm from the US but now that I live overseas it just makes me want to see more of my own country!

Riley (The Parks Expert)

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

I went to all 50 states before traveling abroad and I don't regret it!

madhu sharma

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

Awesome posts,pictures make me wanna visit the park right away.keeping it for my next visit to USA .

Riley (The Parks Expert)

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

I hope you'll visit soon!

Sharyn

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

I like parks too! I never knew this place existed. Looks like there is loads to see and do - my kinda place.

Riley (The Parks Expert)

Saturday 23rd of May 2020

I'm surprised you hadn't heard of it! I hope you can visit.

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