Hike Glacier National Park 16 Easy to Moderate GNP Hikes by JetSettingFools.com

Hike Glacier National Park: 16 Easy-To-Moderate GNP Hikes

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Hiking at Glacier National Park, Montana is one of the best ways to experience the astounding nature in the park! GNP hiking trails lead up to incredible viewpoints, through dense forests, to streaming waterfalls and across meadows to hidden Glacier National Park lakes. Visitors who want to hike Glacier National Park have heaps of trails to choose from – and we are highlighting the best Glacier National Park hikes that are rated as easy to moderate treks.

 

Glacier National Park, Montana: Best Hikes

If you ask 10 different people what the best hike in Glacier National Park is, you will probably get 10 different answers. Glacier National Park hikes range from short boardwalk strolls to intensely difficult climbs – but they all feature incredible nature.

 

Best Hikes Glacier National Park: Easy to Moderate

We have rounded up our list of the best hikes in Glacier National Park that are fitting for novice and intermediate hikers. That said; weather, crowds and parking can all contribute to personal feelings of the best hiking in Glacier National Park, so we provide tips not just on the hikes, but on enjoying the complete experience as well.

 

Hiking Glacier National Park: What You Will Need To Bring

Hiking in Glacier National Park is phenomenal…but only if you are properly prepared! Before we get to our list of moderate and easy Glacier National Park trails, we have some advice on what to pack for Glacier National Park and what you will want to bring with you on your hikes.

 

Park Pass

A park pass is required for entry into GNP. Visitors can buy a park-specific weekly or annual pass. The America the Beautiful national parks pass also grants visitors entry. These passes can be purchased at the gates into the park or online in advance. 

NEW FOR 2021: To help eliminate the heavy congestion on Going To The Sun Road, Glacier National Park is requiring a second ticket to be purchased for anyone driving on the park’s most famous road, which is the route to many of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

Find the most current information for purchasing both passes on the official park website.

 

Plenty of Water

When you hit the trails in Glacier National Park, you will want to make sure you bring enough water for your trek. For the GNP trails we feature below, we each carried at least 1 liter of water. A collapsible water bottle is great for traveling hikers – they take up little room in your luggage and are less wasteful than using disposable plastic bottles. There are water sources at some trailheads, but not all, so make sure to fill up before you leave your accommodations – and, while it is tempting to drink water from mountain streams, it is not recommended by the park.

 

Snacks for Hiking Montana

Just as important as it is to stay hydrated during treks, you will want to make sure you have some trail food to fuel your hikes in Glacier National Park. We like to bring apples, granola bars, trail mix and string cheese. If hiking in the morning, consider bringing a complete packed lunch to enjoy as a scenic viewpoint picnic during the hike.

 

Travel Camera for Montana Photography 

The nature at GNP is absolutely stunning – and is best captured with a real camera. We carry a DSLR Canon Rebel, which is a great beginner camera (it comes with tons of accessories!) and takes fantastic photos. The lens we used for our GNP trip was an everyday 18-135mm, which was good for landscapes photos…but not great for taking pictures of Glacier National Park wildlife. In hindsight, we would have also brought our 55-250mm telephoto lens for our trip.

 

Binoculars for Montana Wildlife

Binoculars are another item we didn’t bring on our trip – and desperately wished we would have. During our Glacier National park day hikes, we spotted a lot of wildlife. While other hikers viewed mountain goats and grizzly bears through binoculars, we were left squinting at far away specks.

 

Montana Hiking Poles

While hiking poles are not necessary on these easy Glacier National Park hikes, they certainly help! If you haven’t hiked with trekking poles before, they reduce stress on your legs, ankles and feet on downhill treks and provide stability and balance throughout the hike.  

 

Bear Spray for Glacier National Park Best Hikes

Glacier National Park bears can make appearances on any trail – even well-trodden paths. Making noise (like talking and clapping) is a good way to make your presence known to the bears in Glacier National Park. However, carrying bear spray (and knowing how to use it!) is always a good idea. The spray can also be used if encountering other aggressive Glacier National Park animals – like an attacking moose.

Pro Tip: Bear Spray is not allowed on airplanes (even in checked baggage), so you will need to buy it in Montana if you are flying in. The Glacier Outfitters airport location sells bear spray (including previous year surplus for a discounted rate) or check with your accommodation to see if they provide it.

 

Trail Map Glacier National Park

For each trek, we provide a map link to the trailhead, but trekkers who like to use a more detailed paper map of the actual trail routes can buy one in advance of their trip. The 734 Map is considered to be the best trail map of Glacier National Park – and you can buy it on Amazon

 

Day Pack for Hiking Glacier National Park Best Trails

The best day pack for a Glacier National Park hike is a backpack or hip pack. We use our day packs to carry all of the things we already mentioned – plus lip balm, insect repellent, sunscreen, toilet paper, antibacterial gel, Band-aids, a bandana and a hat. Read our tips for the Best Day Packs for Travel!

Pro Tip: Leave No Trace when exploring Glacier National Park! Pack out what you pack in…that includes any trash, banana peels, apple cores, tissues and used toilet paper (I use small, double-bagged Ziplocks to carry my used TP in!).

 

Easy Hikes Glacier National Park: What To Wear

Determining exactly what to wear when you hike Glacier National Park will depend on the season, weather and just plain luck – but we have a few general packing tips for your trip to Montana.

 

Hiking Shoes for Easy Hikes in Glacier National Park

For the easy hiking trails in Glacier National Park on our list, we did not wear hiking boots. Instead, I wore my everyday trainers and Kris wore his favorite Merrell shoes, which we thought were sufficient for the level of hikes we did. That said, hiking boots – like the kind I used to own by Columbia – would have offered more support and comfort than our everyday travel shoes

 

Clothes for Hiking in Glacier NP

Before you set off on your trek, it is important to consider how to dress for Glacier National Park hiking. 

Comfortable, moisture-wicking clothes are the best outfits to wear while hiking Glacier National Park – even on the easiest hikes in the park. 

My favorite hiking clothes (for women) are a pair of leggings and a loose athletic t-shirt. On cooler days and crisp mornings, I layer my outfit with a long sleeve quick dry shirt and/or a fleece jacket. 

It is essential to be prepared for a variety of weather scenarios (as the weather at Glacier NP can change quickly!), so we recommend bringing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed travel hat…and also a packable raincoat


 

Hike Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park hiking is a highlight of any trip to Montana! Our list of the best easy-to-moderate hikes in Glacier National Park are listed by area. For each Glacier NP hike, we indicate trail length, elevation gain and trailhead location (with a convenient Google Maps link). At the end of this post, we include a map of Glacier National Park trails to help you easily plan your hikes. 

Note about our Glacier National Park Hiking Guide: During our Glacier National Park trip, not all of the park was open to visitors. To include some of the popular Glacier National Park easy hikes that were closed to us, I reached out to my mom and aunt for details from the hikes they trekked on their GNP trip two years earlier.

Save, Pin or Bookmark our Glacier National Park Hiking blog post so that you can access it while planning (and during) your Montana trip!

 

Easy Hikes at Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Carved by glaciers, Lake McDonald ranks as the largest lake in Glacier National Park. The lake stretches for almost 10 miles and is nearly 500 feet deep. In addition to the grand vistas, the lake is the starting point for several easy trails in Glacier National Park.

 

#1 Johns Lake Loop

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 1.8 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 200 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Located on the northern tip of Lake McDonald, Johns Lake trail is one of the easy hikes at Glacier National Park, as it is a short loop with minimal elevation gain.

The path at Johns Lake Glacier National Park follows McDonald Creek, passing McDonald Falls and Sacred Dancing Cascade and then crosses Going To The Sun Road to take trekkers into the forest to Johns Lake. The area around the lake is marshy and large boulders lie in the dense forest. 

Pro Tip: Our preference is to hike Johns Lake Loop Trail clockwise, starting at the McDonald Falls Glacier National Park Trailhead, which is located on North Lake McDonald Road. However, the hike can be accessed from two other small parking areas on Going To The Sun Road – at either Johns Lake Loop {MAP} or at Sacred Dancing Cascade {MAP}.

 

#2 Upper McDonald Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 3 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 200 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Upper McDonald Creek trail is one of our favorite easy hikes in Glacier NP – and a bit of a hidden gem! The trail is an out-and-back path that begins at the bridge over Sacred Dancing Cascade and follows the creek north through old-growth forest to a wide wetland (which is a great Moose sighting spot!). The trail then veers away from the creek deeper into the moss covered forest – but eventually comes back to the creek, where adventurous hikers can climb over rocks and boulders for better views.

Pro Tip: The Upper McDonald Creek Trail can easily be combined with Johns Lake Loop. The two trails intersect at Sacred Dancing Cascade, making it a 5-mile roundtrip hike – and, in our opinion, one of the best easy hikes in Glacier National Park.

 

#3 Rocky Point Glacier National Park Nature Trail

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 2 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 100 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Located on the southwestern end of Lake McDonald, Rocky Point Nature Trail is a short and scenic looping trail in Glacier NP. In fact, we think it is one of the best short hikes in Glacier National Park. 

The path takes trekkers through a burn area (from the 2003 Robert Fire), where regrowth is occurring. After about a half mile, the Rocky Point Trail Glacier NP forks and – going to the right – hikers are led toward Lake McDonald and up to a rocky outcrop (but stay on the main trail, the break off trail on the right goes down to the shoreline). From the elevated rocks, there are incredible viewpoints of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The trail loops back around to the start, but there is another trail – McDonald Lake Trail – that branches off, heading north for 6 miles and paralleling the lake. While it is also one of the easy hiking trails in Glacier National Park, we did not find it to be particularly interesting, as most of the trail is too far from the shoreline for views and in overgrown brush.

Pro Tip: We actually started the Rocky Point hike at the Fish Creek Picnic Area. From there, we walked through the Fish Creek Campground to Section D, where we hopped onto a lakeside trail that connects to the Rocky Point Trail. We think this route is much more scenic than starting at the official trailhead. Use this Fish Creek Campground Glacier Map for info.

 

Easy and Moderate Hikes at Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

Hiking in the Avalanche Lake area is one of the top Glacier National Park activities! The aptly named Avalanche Basin is named for the propensity for avalanches – the destruction of which can be viewed along the trails. The lake sits at the base of several surrounding mountains and is fed by melt-off from Sperry Glacier, which cascades in long streaming waterfalls down the mountainsides. Avalanche Creek spills out from the lake and one of the most beautiful spots in the area is where the creek flows through a deep narrow gorge.

 

#4 Glacier National Park Avalanche Lake Hike

Difficulty: Moderate  |  Length: 6 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 500 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Avalanche Lake is a must-see in Glacier National Park…and the only way to get to the lake is to hike up to it! But, don’t worry, it is one of the best hiking trails in Glacier National Park. The hike begins at the Trail of the Cedars (which we talk about in more detail next!), then makes a quick ascent alongside Avalanche Creek. The trail follows the creek to an area of downed trees (caused by a 2010 avalanche) and then continues crawling up through the forest to the lake.

Pro Tip: The trail extends an additional mile the length of the lake, but hikers don’t have to go to the end to get spectacular lake views, as there are several paths that lead to the lake’s edge. That said, as one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, the trail gets crowded; hikers looking for a little solitude on the busy trail will find it is worth it to go all the way to the end!

 

#5 Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length:  1 mile roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains:  0 feet |  Trailhead MAP 

The Trail of the Cedars is comprised of both an elevated boardwalk and a paved path. It is one of the easiest hikes in Glacier National Park – and is one of the few wheelchair accessible hikes, too. The shaded trail loops through mature cedar and hemlock trees. At about the halfway point (near the Avalanche Lake Trailhead) the trail crosses a wooden bridge that offers phenomenal views of the Avalanche Creek waterfall flowing through the red rock gorge.

Pro Tip: One of our favorite spots to stop along the Trail of the Cedars is at the bench that faces an uprooted tree. The tangle of roots are clear of dirt and debris – offering a unique and up-close vantage point of nature.

 

Moderate Hikes at Logan Pass, Glacier National Park

At an elevation of 6,646 feet, Logan Pass marks the Continental Divide – and the highest point on Going To The Sun Road. While the panoramic views from the road are striking, the Glacier National Park hiking trails that begin at Logan Pass offer even more awe-inspiring scenes.

 

#6 Highline Trail Glacier National Park

Difficulty: Moderate  |  Length: 7.2 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 825 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park is one of the most popular treks in the park. While there are a few different ways to hike the Highline Trail (some of which are extremely difficult), the in-and-out route to Haystack Butte is an ideal option for a moderate trek.

Highline Trail to Haystack Butte

For us, the Highline to Haystack trek was one of the best moderate hikes in Glacier National Park. 

The Highline is a fairly narrow trail that follows the edge of the cliff, high above the Going To The Sun Road, which can be particularly challenging for hikers with a fear of heights – like me! The first 3 miles of the GNP Highline Hike are relatively flat and mostly exposed – and the sweeping views of surrounding mountains are simply astonishing.

On the approach to Haystack Pass, hikers face a long switchback – but once in the saddle, there are several large boulders where hikers can catch their breath, eat a snack and look for wildlife (we saw a trio of mountain goats during one of our hikes!).

Pro Tip: While Haystack Pass is a pleasant place to stop for a rest, we highly recommend mustering up the energy to hike up Haystack Butte. The steep (but short) trail quickly takes trekkers to a rocky plateau that offers unbelievable 360-degree views of the surrounding mountainous terrain.

 

#7 Overlook at Hidden Lake Glacier National Park

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate  |  Length: 3 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains:  550 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The Glacier National Park Hidden Lake Overlook Trail is an easy to moderate hike – and is rated as one of the best hikes of Glacier National Park.

The trail begins as a paved path, transitions to a raised boardwalk and ends as a proper trail. The route traverses wide open alpine meadows – which can either be covered in snow or draped in wildflowers – and offers breathtaking views of mountains in every direction during the entire hike. At the Hidden Lake Nature Trail Glacier National Park Overlook, hikers are greeted to impeccable views of Bearhat Mountain and Hidden Lake nestled at the base of it. Mountain goats and big horn sheep are often spotted from the overlook.

Pro Tip: Hiking the additional 1.5 miles down to Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park takes quite a bit more effort – or so we heard. The hike to Hidden Lake beyond the overlook, which is a rocky and steep descent, was closed during our visit due to grizzly bears frequenting the area. 

 

Easy to Moderate Hikes at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier NP

Saint Mary Lake sits on the east side of the continental divide and ranks as the second-largest lake in GNP. At the center of the lake is a tiny island, named Wild Goose Island, which is one of the most photographed spots in the park.  However, hikers will be more enamored by the trails on the west end of the lake that lead to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Glacier National Park.

 

#8 St. Mary Falls Glacier National Park

Difficulty: Easy |  Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 250 feet |  Trailhead MAP

One of the top places to visit in Glacier National Park, St. Mary Falls is an easy trail with magnificent scenery. As one of the short hikes in Glacier National Park, it is also one of the most popular. 

The hike begins in burn area (from the Reynolds Creek Fire in 2015) – which, while quite stark, is also incredibly beautiful. As the trail slowly descends toward the water, hikers are granted views of the lake (be sure to keep an eye out for moose, we saw two in the lake!); then, just over a creek and around the bend, is the wonderful, three-tiered St. Mary Waterfall.

Pro Tip: The bridge that crosses the base of the falls (and the large boulders below it) are a popular spot for cliff jumping. We watched a few adventurous hikers take the plunge – but it was a bit too chilly for us to make the jump!

 

#9 Virginia Falls Hike

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate  |  Length: 3.5 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 400 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The hike to Virginia Falls is an extension of the St. Mary Falls hike – and, in our opinion, is one of the trails that needs to be on your Glacier National Park Hiking checklist. After passing St. Mary Falls, the trail makes a few sharp turns and takes hikers past by an unnamed, yet gorgeous, tumbling cascade. As you move past those waterfalls, the hike begins its half-mile ascent up to Virginia Falls, a beautiful, tall streaming waterfall.

Pro Tip: Before arriving at Virginia Waterfall, there is a turn off for Virginia Falls Viewpoint. While the viewpoint is a nice place to see the falls, make sure to follow the trail all the way up to the base of the falls for the most remarkable view.

 

#10 Sun Point Nature Trail and Baring Falls Hike

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 2 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 50 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The Sun Point Nature Trail begins from a large parking lot that is off Going To The Sun Road (and it is often less crowded as other smaller lots located right on the roadside). Using the trailhead from the east end of the parking lot, hikers descend quickly toward the lake’s edge – and can detour onto the rocky outcrop (which we highly recommend for the phenomenal lake views!). The flat trail follows the shoreline of the lake for almost a mile to the 25-foot Baring Falls.

Pro Tip: Trekkers can also take the short but steep detour up to Sunrift Gorge, a deep channel carved by glacial waters. (Just make sure to keep going all the way up the stairs to where the trail ends to see the geological feature!) The detour will add about another mile to the hike.

 

BONUS: 3 Waterfalls Glacier National Park Hike

Difficulty: Moderate  |  Length: 6 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 500 feet |  Trailhead MAP

For a slightly more moderate hike, combine all three of these Glacier National Park falls – Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls – into one hike! Starting from the Sun Point Nature Trail, hikers first arrive at Baring Falls. The trail then continues along the shoreline of St. Mary Lake, offering spectacular views and a chance to spend a little time on a pebbly beach. About 1 mile after Baring Falls, the path meets up with the St. Mary Trail, where trekkers can visit St. Mary Falls and complete the hike to Virginia Falls. 

Pro Tip: Hikers can also start this hike at the Sunrift Gorge parking on Going To The Sun Road. From the lot, trekkers can first take a peek at the Gorge, then take the descending trail to Baring Falls. 

 

Bowman Lake Glacier NP

Bowman Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Glacier National Park…and one of the more difficult places to get to. Located in the northern section of the park near the Canadian border, Bowman Lake is only accessible via unpaved roads. Once at the lake, however, the beauty is breathtaking and beyond worth the bumpy ride!

 

#11 Shoreline Trail at Bowman Lake

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate  |  Length: 1 to 14 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 50 feet |  Trailhead MAP

A trail on the northside of Bowman Lake follows the shoreline from the west end of the lake for seven miles to the lake head. The trail is fairly flat with several places to scamper down to the edge for impressive lake views, a great place to rest or have a picnic lunch – which is why we think it is one of the best trails to hike in Glacier National Park. Hiking just a few miles out-and-back makes this is a very easy trek – but going the distance to the opposite end of the lake would certainly be a moderate hike.

Pro Tip: On the drive to Bowman Lake, be sure to stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for a Huckleberry Bear Claw. It is the single most delicious huckleberry treat we ate on our Montana trip!

 

Many Glacier: Glacier National Park

Dotted with lakes and trails and surrounded by mountain peaks, Many Glacier delivers some of the most extraordinary landscapes in GNP. Hikes in the area ranges from easy walks to strenuous treks.

 

#12 Redrock Falls

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 4 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 225 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Highlights of the Redrock Falls hike in Glacier NP are waterfalls, scenic views, wildflowers and wildlife. The trail winds through canopied forests, towering aspens and huckleberry bushes – and past two lakes (Fishercap Lake and Redrock Lake) – before arriving at Redrock Falls. Hikers can explore the many off-shooting trails that lead to various views of the falls.

Pro Tip: The Redrock Falls trail continues past the falls to Bullhead Lake (which will add three miles to the hike) and then eventually works its way up to Switfcurrent Pass (but hiking to the pass – and beyond! – is considered a difficult hike!).

 

#13 Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 2.5 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 25 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail might simultaneously be one of the easiest and most beautiful hikes in Glacier National Park. The flat, looping trail encircles Swiftcurrent Lake with absolutely gorgeous views at every step, allowing hikers to take in a variety of mountain scenes.

Pro Tip: There are two trailheads – and several detour options – on the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail. The best place to start (as we have indicated as the Trailhead Map) is at the Many Glacier Hotel – a National Historic Landmark that dates to 1915. However, the trail can also be accessed from the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead (but hiking all the way to Grinnell Glacier is rated difficult!).

 

Two Medicine: Glacier National Park

Comprising the southeastern section of GNP, Two Medicine is considered sacred ground by the Blackfeet Tribe (in fact, a portion of the land belongs to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation). Two Medicine is home to the Two Medicine Store (a National Historic Landmark) and several hiking trails.

 

#14 Aster Park Overlook and Aster Falls Glacier National Park

Difficulty: Moderate  |  Length: 4 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 700 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Most of the Aster Park Overlook Trail is easy, but it culminates in a steep climb up to the lookout point. At the beginning of the trail, there is an option to take a spur trail to Paradise Point, which is a worthwhile detour. Continuing on the trail, trekkers pass by ponds, through forests and over Aster Creek…then the trail inclines to the overlook and Aster Falls.

Pro Top: During the summer months, visitors can join ranger-led Glacier National Park Guided Hikes to Aster Park Overlook. While we are comfortable hiking on our own, the informative and entertaining ranger points out things that are easily missed – like a bear claw mark on a tree.

 

#15 Running Eagle Falls

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length:  <1mile roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 10 feet |  Trailhead MAP

The Running Eagle Falls Trail is an easy and flat out-and-back trail that is suitable for hikers of every level – and it is wheelchair accessible. On the short jaunt, walkers cross a bridge to a platform overlooking the Running Eagle Waterfall.

Pro Tip: Running Eagle Falls is sometimes two waterfalls – which is why many claim it to be one of the best waterfalls in Glacier National Park. Year-round, the lower falls flow through a sink hole, making it appear as if the water is spilling out of the rock. However, in the springtime, when water flow is heavy, the water falls over the top, creating a second, 40-foot waterfall that streams over the lower falls.

 

#16 Appistoki Falls

View from Apistoki Falls, Glacier National Park, Montana

Difficulty: Easy  |  Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip  |  Elevation Gains: 200 feet |  Trailhead MAP

Another easy waterfall hike in Glacier National Park, Appistoki Falls is short and sweet. The trek follows a portion of the Continental Divide Trail for about a half mile where a spur trail leads to Appistoki Falls, which are nestled in a deep gorge (and, unfortunately, there is no way to get up close to it!). 

Pro Tip: The trail continues past the falls up to Scenic Point. While the viewpoint is said to be fabulous, the hike is difficult, with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet.

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Glacier National Park Trail Map

Use this link to Google Maps for our Glacier National Park Montana Map. Paper Glacier National Park trail maps are available for free at the entrance, however, the maps show little detail.

Hikes in Glacier National Park Map by JetSettingFools.com

Purchase Map of Glacier National Park Hiking Trails

For more detailed maps of Glacier National Park Montana, it is best to purchase one for your trip. The Hiking 734 Map in considered by many to be the best Glacier National Park hiking map – and you can buy it in advance of your trip on Amazon.


 

Tips For Glacier National Park Montana Hiking

We have shared our top tips for the best hikes in Glacier National Park for easy to moderate treks – but we have a few more bits of advice for hiking at Glacier NP.

 

Moderate to Difficult Glacier Hikes

We highlighted the best easy-to-moderate Glacier hiking, but there are numerous trails in the park that will challenge even experienced hikers. Some of the more difficult hikes in Glacier National Park are the Granite Park Chalet Hike, Iceberg Lake, Cracker Lake, Siyeh Pass, Ptarmigan Tunnel and the Grinnell Glacier Hike. 

Backpacking in Glacier National Park is also possible, but only for experience and well-prepared hikers. 

 

The Best Time to Hike Glacier National Park

Although the park is open year-round, the best time to hike Glacier National Park is in the summer and autumn. Many of the facilities, water supplies and roads are shut off during the winter and spring. We visited in the autumn – and during our month-long stay, we watched the tree leaves turn from green to yellow, experienced a range of weather…and we witnessed the park slowly begin to shut down for the winter season. For us, the cooler weather was perfect for hiking in Glacier.

That said, many travelers plan their Glacier National Park hiking trips during the summer. My family visited the park in July – and they loved the long days of sunshine and that there was still snow covering the mountain peaks and some of the meadows near the continental divide.

 

Dealing with Crowds at Glacier NP

During the summer months – and into the early fall – Glacier is crushed by visitors. Even though the park covers 1 million acres, the easiest and best hiking trails at Glacier NP get busy! We were seldom alone on the trails – and, if we were, it was only for a few moments. When hiking, remember to use Trail Etiquette – here are a few tips from the National Park Service.

 

Parking at Glacier NP Trailheads

For the best hikes at Glacier National Park, finding parking near trailheads can be a real struggle (if not downright stressful!). For the most popular trails, some hikers recommend arriving at the parking lot by 6:30am to ensure a parking space. However, because most of our hikes only last 3 to 4 hours, we found that the afternoons were a better time to start our treks. By 1pm or 2pm, many early morning hikers are already coming off the trail – and there is still plenty of daylight left for us to enjoy our easy to moderate hikes.

Also, be aware that in addition to the main parking lots for each trailhead, there are usually nearby pull offs where hikers can park. Once when we wanted to hike to Hidden Lake, the parking lot at Logan Pass was so congested that rangers closed it to additional cars. We ended up parking a mile west of the Logan Pass Visitor Center on the side of Going To The Sun Road and hiking up from there.

 

Glacier National Park Weather

The weather at Glacier National Park can be unpredictable…but inclement weather doesn’t have to ruin your Glacier NP hike! During our trip, we trekked in full sunshine, drizzly rain, dense fog and smoke from faraway forest fires.

In order to best prepare for weather in Glacier NP, our best packing advice is to plan to dress in layers, bring a hat and gloves (especially on early morning treks in the autumn!) and bring a packable raincoat. As is true before any hike, it is a good idea to check the Glacier NP weather forecast before you set off for the park as well.

 

Day Hikes Glacier National Park: Patience and Flexibility

Perhaps our best tip for hikes at Glacier NP is to be kind, patient and flexible. Always be prepared with a back up plan for alternate trails, bring plenty of water and snacks and go with the flow.

 

How To Plan Your Trip

For more information about visiting GNP, use our Glacier National Park Itinerary – where we include information about getting there, recommendations on where to stay.

Additionally, you can use our tips for the nearby destinations of Missoula, Whitefish and Kalispell – and our useful tips for Touring Montana via Road Trip!

 

Start planning your trip to Montana! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

We Want To Know: Is there anything you would add to our list of hikes in GNP? What are your favorite Glacier NP Hikes? Tell us in the comments below! 

 

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