Hiking Glacier National Park – Montana’s Wonderland


Glacier National Park is a 1,583-sq.-mi. wilderness area in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, with glacier-carved peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. It’s crossed by the mountainous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Among more than 700 miles of hiking trails, it has a route to photogenic Hidden Lake. Other activities include backpacking, cycling and camping. Diverse wildlife ranges from mountain goats to grizzly bears.

The experience of Glacier’s pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes is one of a kind. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker’s paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. But Glacier is also historic chalets, lodges, and the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road.

A comprehensive system of shuttles makes transport to trails fairly easy during peak tourism season. Once you pay the national park entrance fee, you get free and unlimited access to the Park Shuttle System.

The shuttle operates as a hop-on hop-off two-way service along Going-to-the-Sun Road between the Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center. The shuttle runs on the west side from the Apgar Visitor Center to Logan Pass every 15-30 minutes. On the east side the shuttle runs from Logan Pass to St. Mary’s Center. If you are planning on riding the full Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll have to switch shuttles at Logan Pass. There’s room for 12 or 16 passengers on the smaller shuttles and 20+ on the larger ones. All seats are first come, first serve, and at times packed. If the shuttle is full, you’ll have to wait for the next one. There is also limited pack storage on the buses especially when every seat is full, so you’ll likely need to set your pack in an aisle or on your lap. Also, plan to park your car at a shuttle hub parking lot instead of other locations where parking is limited. The east hub is St. Mary Visitor Center and the west hub is Apgar Visitor Center. Be aware that parking is competitive throughout the park, particularly at Logan Pass Visitor Center. During peak season, many parking lots are full by mid-morning.

Hidden Lake overlook
2.8 miles, roundtrip
Gain: 460 ft.
This is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park. Starting at Logan Pass, you will walk a combination of boardwalk and gravel trails to get to the overlook of Hidden Lake. Along the way, keep a lookout for mountain goats. This is one of the easiest places to see them in Glacier National Park.
Highline Trail
11.8 miles thru hike
Gain: 1,950 ft.
The Highline Trail is one of the best and my ultimate favorite in the Glacier National Park. The trail is usually done one way from Logan Pass to The Loop. This trail starts on the exposed ledge trail high above the Going to the Sun Road on your way to the Garden Wall. On the 12 mile trail, you will pass the Garden Wall Trail junction, short steep trail that leads to Grinnell Glacier Overlook (a must see!).

For almost 12 miles, this trail takes hikers high above Going-to-the-Sun Road, with stunning views of the park and a chance to see glaciers, wildflowers, and wildlife.

This hike is done point-to-point, from Logan Pass to the Loop. The elevation gain is minimal, so if you are looking for a hike with high alpine views without having to hike up a massive mountain, you won’t find a better hike than the Highline Trail.

The Highline Trail is an extremely popular hike; and for good reason. At every step, and every turn, hikers will enjoy spectacular scenery as the Highline follows along the Continental Divide, also known as the Garden Wall throughout this section of Glacier National Park.
The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you’ll remember the rest of your life.
Grinnel Glacier Overlook
15.6 miles, roundtrip
Gain: 1000 ft.
The hike to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook in Glacier National Park begins from the Highline Trailhead, located on the north side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Logan Pass.
Grinnell Glacier
10.3 Miles
Gain:1,819 ft.
This hike has it all; stunning alpine scenery, wildflowers, emerald lakes and incredible glacier at the end of the route. The views all along the trail are simply jaw-dropping. This trail is not completely accessible until late July most years, when the snow melts and the park opens higher portions of the trail.
Cracker Lake
12.6 Miles
Gain: 1,400 ft.
Cracker lake is known for its milky turquoise lake hugged by towering cliffs and a fascinating old mine site. This is one of the hikes we actually saw a grizzly bear. This hike has impressive waterfalls and beautiful views of magnificent headwalls of Mt. Siyeh and Allen Mountain. The trail leading to the lake is prime grizzly habitat with its tall brush and plethora of berry bushes, so take adequate precautions and make a lot of noise.
Iceberg Lake
9.3 Miles
Gain: 1,450 ft.
This hike starts near Ptarmigan tunnel. Again, this is a grizzly territory. Spectacular views all along the trail with wildflowers, mountains and gorgeous alpine lake at the end of the trail.
Pitamakan and Dawson Pass
14.8 miles, roundtrip
Gain: 2500 ft.
This terrific hike travels through some of the finest scenery in the southern half of Glacier National Park.
Jaw dropping vistas as we traversed two beautiful valleys, crossed two view-packed passes and walked along a stunning section of the Continental Divide.
Lakes, meadows sprinkled with wildflowers and opportunities to see bighorn sheep and mountain goats contributed to the sensory overload.
Mount Siyeh
9 miles, roundtrip
Gain: 4055 ft.
Summit of the fifth tallest peak in Glacier National Park at 10,014 feet.
An unbelievable display of not just the jaw-dropping Cracker Lake, but the entire park, it’s mountains, valleys, and glaciers.
The route(s) to the summit can be a tricky one to find. The entrance route ascends through some drainage gully’s on the south slope that are only visible once you’ve hiked out of the forest area of valley.
Once on the ridgeline, we have encountered six grizzly bears, including mama bear with three cubs. Luckily, they were busy digging for snacks, and didn’t really care much about us.


Share this post