St Mary Lake

West Glacier, Montana 59921

St Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A backpack that follows the south shore of St. Mary Lake to Red Eagle Creek, 11.2 miles (18 km) one-way. This trail parallels the south shore of St. Mary Lake but stays high on the mountain slopes and rarely strays near the shoreline. It is used primarily by backpackers on extended trips along the Continental Divide Trail.

There are no campgrounds along its length; backpackers should consider camping at the Reynolds Creek Campground (available for extended trips only) or at Red Eagle Lake. From the St. Mary Falls trailhead, a gentle stroll leads down forested slopes to a crossing of the St. Mary River where it pours into St. Mary Lake."

St. Mary Lake Reviews

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9/8/2009
This was the highlight of our trip - make sure you've got good shoes. From Sperry to Gunsight is the best part of the trip.
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8/17/2006
This trail is awesome! Starting out at the trailhead, a gentle descent into the basin through heavily wooded trails was absolutely beautiful. Towards the bottom of the first leg of the trip, there is a great place to stop and take in some scenery. A stream that has cut away the rock in almost perfect circles leading down to a pool that looks to be 50 or 60 feet deep. The water is clear and the rock is green. The split in the trail is marked very well, as you start the trek along the river for a few miles. At this point, it is pretty flat, which makes for a quick hike with beautiful views of the glaciers. The ascent up to Gunsight Lake is a litte tougher, but not terrible. The lake is absolutely beautiful and clear. There are several deer that run through the camp, so keep your personal items close to you. they like to chew. There were also a few goats in our camp, but they pretty much move away from you. The camp layout is pretty straightforward. The food prep area and the food hanging area are well removed from the sites. Most of the sites are far enough away from each other so that you don't see your neighbors. Overall, the hike is pretty easy and you can make good time if you are moving at a good pace. I would definitely do this trail again. It would also be a good family hike for even younger kids who like to hike. Lots of good scenery, and not too many rough parts.
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7/6/2005
Classic Glacier. Been over Gunsight a half dozen times in the last 30 years. Long day hike. Good distance for an overnight. Leisurely 3 day trip. Camping at Gunsight Lake, Lake Elllen Wilson, Sperry. Overnight with style at Sperry Chalet. Glacier Nat. Park takes advance permit requests beginning April 1 each year. Sperry Chalet can be booked on line. East to West is the best route. Griz country through whole route.
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5/7/2003
Awesome hike, but make sure you are in moderately good shape, because after about the 5th or 6th mile you feel it. Incredible views and far from any road, you feel as though you owned the whole area. We stayed at the chalet and had an unbelievable experience. Very peaceful, and very fun. It is a must do in my book.
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1/1/2002
I hiked this trail six years in a row on Labor Day Weekend beginning 1972. Best trail I ever hiked. East to West over Gunsight Pass, stayed overnight at Sperry Chalet, up to the Glacier next day and down to lake McDonald,
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8/30/2001
i've done this hike as a day hike and a backpacking trip (stay at lake ellen wilson). the most spectacular part of the trail is from gunsight lake to sperry chalet. a side trip up to sperry glacier is a must if you've got the time.
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St. Mary Lake Photos

Trail Information

West Glacier
Nearby City
11.2
Distance
1,580 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
Year-round
Season
Views, Waterfalls
Features
St. Mary, Rising Sun
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018