Top Trails Glacier National Park Must-Do Hikes for Everyone  by Jean Arthur

Top Trails: Glacier National Park: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone Guide Book

by Jean Arthur (Wilderness Press)
Top Trails Glacier National Park Must-Do Hikes for Everyone  by Jean Arthur
Written by local author Jean Arthur, Top Trails: Glacier National Park leads visitors to secluded trails and unique settings while providing details of current and past human activity, wildlife movement, and geologic changes that altered the landscape and created America’s tenth national park. The unique approach of Top Trails: Glacier National Park reveals the best trails that wind alongside sensitive meadows and climb above crystalline lakes and leads hikers to backcountry respites unique to Glacier. The guide also traces outlaws, poachers, and mining ventures that occurred inside the current park boundary.

© 2014 Jean Arthur/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Top Trails: Glacier National Park: Must-Do Hikes for Everyone" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 40.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 40.

Since the wildfires cleared out much of the lodgepole pine in patchworked sections of the Akokala Lake Trail, hikers have excellent views of Numa Ridge Fire Lookout, Reuter Peak, and Mount Peabody, where few glimpses were visible a dozen years ago. The trail remains damp and cool nearly all summer, and in fact, a bog area guarantees mosquitoes for a few hundred yards. It’s worth it because at 1.5 miles, the trees open up to bright wildflowers, such Flora as beargrass and columbine. Look for huckleberries late July through September.
West Glacier, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.6
When snow encases the high country, the Apgar Lookout Trail provides a few-hours’ trek through western hemlock, aspen, and brush before crossing meadows and then climbing to the lookout’s viewpoint overlooking Lake McDonald to the north and the West Side of the park. This trail begins on an old logging road wide Park in 2003. enough for hikers to walk side by side for half a mile. As the route begins to climb, hikers will notice trail-side groups of western red cedars that survived fire; it’s interesting that all other vegetation and trees for acres burned in the 2003 fires. Meadow areas reveal several small, marshy ponds, flora each about an acre or two in size—perfect moose habitat.
Lake McDonald, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
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Although the trail has some steep portions in the middle, the rewards are many: Views of Salamander Glacier and Grinnell Glacier dominate the mountains surrounding Many Glacier Valley, and Gem Glacier comes into view as hikers look over their left shoulders to the west to the Garden Wall’s collection of receding glaciers.
East Glacier Park, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
The trail is best skied December through March when snow piles up 6 feet deep. As a summer trail, Autumn Creek is poorly maintained and has several challenging creek crossings-no bridges exist along this trail. The park service requests that snowshoers "maintain separate tracks for skiing and showshoeing wherever possible" so the ski tracks are not spoiled-the route is wide enough for snowshoeing next to ski tracks.
Kiowa, MT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.8
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A family favorite, the hike to Avalanche Lake takes about 2 hours and affords previews of several ecosystems, from the sheltered understory of 500-year-old cedar trees alongside a roiling stream to a pine forest where deer flick their tails to the final reward: emerald-green Avalanche Lake rimmed with melting snow and enlivened by mountain goats on cliffs above.
West Glacier, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
An excellent choice for new and young hikers, the Beaver Pond Trail easily rolls through two distinct scenes: a thick aspen and pine forest to the ponds and open prairie meadows with views of Saint Mary Lake and surrounding peaks, plus the Historic 1913 Ranger Station at the trailhead. Frogs and birds reside here. Look for sandpipers, red-winged blackbirds, cedar waxwings, and red-naped sapsuckers. As you continue, notice the white geranium and larkspur, and listen for songbirds’ trill. The trail meets the route to Red Eagle Lake; take the right/north route toward the trailhead and parking area. Soon, the trail approaches the shore of Saint Mary Lake, where a spur trail leads to fine picnic spots.
Saint Mary, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
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Many hikers on the Bertha Lake Trail enjoy the trailside benches and picnicking at Lower Bertha Falls, yet the 21 switchbacks to reach Bertha Lake provide visitors with Upper Waterton Lake views, waterfalls, and craggy peaks, and make it one of the most popular hikes in Waterton.
Waterton Park, AB - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
The backpacking trip to Hole in the Wall leads to some of the most sought-after campsites in the backcountry, but hikers must earn the mountaincirque locale with a difficult trek, often camping partway to the head of Kintla Lake and again at Boulder Pass Campgrounds. But the rewards are many: Dozens of waterfalls, high alpine meadows, and hanging gardens decorate Hole in the Wall. The southern shore was burned in the 2003 Wedge Canyon Fire, one of three major fires that summer that blazed through 144,000 acres in Glacier.
Polebridge, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 40
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Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park not only share an international boundary between Montana, USA, and both GBritish Columbia and Alberta, Canada, but the two parks also share a beautiful, unique, and rugged Northern Rockies ecosystem and nearly all the native wildlife that resided here prior to European explorers’ visits. This multiday backpacking trek into Glacier National Park begins among thick groves of trees, crosses the Continental Divide in the alpine ecosystem at treeline, passes sparkling lakes and shimmering waterfalls melting from glaciers, and ends at the edge of Canada’s prairie grasslands of Waterton Lakes National Park.
West Glacier, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 22.3
The ascent to Cobalt Lake climbs between Painted Tepee and Sinopah Mountains through a glaciated valley and to the top of a glacial moraine lush with wildflowers. There, snow hangs on north-facing slopes well into midsummer, and breezes splash chilled waters onto the shoreline.
Kiowa, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.14
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Few places in the Northern Rockies offer naturally occurring tunnels, such as this one carved out of the rock by erosion near the upper reaches of the Crypt Lake Trail and only a few minutes before reaching the crystalline waters of the lake. Crypt Lake’s shores are in both Canada and the U.S. but are only accessible by trail from Upper Waterton Lake.
Waterton Park, AB - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.9
Backpackers and endurance hikers traverse two mountain passes, four crystalline lakes and campsites, dozens of snowy peaks, and wildflower-filled meadows along the arduous Dawson and Pitamakan Passes. This 17.6-mile trail may be shortened by 1.9 miles via Glacier Park Boat Company’s tour boat.
Kiowa, MT - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 15.9-17.6 miles
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Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park not only share an international boundary between Montana, USA, and both British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, but the two parks also share a beautiful, unique, and rugged Northern Rockies ecosystem and nearly all the native wildlife that resided here prior to European explorers’ visits. The trail passes through aspen groves near a marshy meadow before quickly climbing from 5,500 to 6,951 feet in 2.4 miles above treeline, which provides views eastward over the Blackfeet Indian Reservation lands and northward deep into the park’s backcountry.
Browning, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 16
A quiet lake awaits hikers who find the shady trail a lovely respite from inclement weather. This trip is a good choice in early summer, when higherelevation routes are still cloaked in snow, keeping deer and elk at this lower elevation where pileated woodpeckers flit through the timber.
Lake McDonald, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
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This interpretive trail encourages exploration of postfire regrowth and is an excellent choice for families with small children to explore the rejuvenated landscape, colored with fireweed and other summer wildflowers.
Apgar, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
A summer road becomes a wonderful wintry introduction to Glacier’s brumal days. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are treated to the partially frozen yet very much awake and frothy Sacred Dancing Cascade of McDonald Creek along the closed road, which is often frequented by deer and snowshoe hare.
Lake McDonald, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 16.8
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One of the most picturesque and popular hikes in the park, the trail to Grinnell Glacier can be shorted via two tour boat rides. The route passes crystalline lakes rimmed with huckleberries, rugged peaks, and, at trail’s terminus, three of the park’s famed glaciers: Grinnell, Salamander, and Gem, which scientists believe will melt away by 2020.
Babb, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.2
As one of the more popular trails in Glacier, the 5.25-mile hike to Gunsight Lake crosses hanging bridges and travels past huckleberry bushes, lovely streams, and within sight of Jackson and Blackfoot Glaciers before reaching spectacular Gunsight Lake and its campground. At that point, options include a spur trail to the glaciers’ overlook, or an additional 1,600-foot climb to Gunsight Pass and beyond to Sperry Chalet then Lake McDonald Lodge, for a total of 20.6 miles. Most people take three days or more to cross these mountains.
Saint Mary, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 12.6
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If you only have time for one hike in Glacier, make it the 2.57 miles to Hidden Lake (5.14 miles roundtrip), or at the very least, hike the 1.4 miles to Hidden Lake Overlook, a 485-foot climb on a mix of pavement, boardwalk, and trail, for incredible views from the Backbone of the Continent.
West Glacier, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.14
The famous Highline Trail traverses under the Garden Wall, the jagged glacial arête of the Continental Divide, and provides a backcountry experience without significant elevation changes yet with plenty of wildlife, such as mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, and deer.
West Glacier, MT - Hiking - Trail Length: 15.2
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