Hikes in Glacier National Park, BC
With 1,349km² of terrain waiting to be explored and easy access from the Trans-Canada Highway, Glacier National Park is well-positioned to serve as the destination for your next hiking adventure. Although the hiking season is relatively short - lasting from July to October - the park is located almost exactly halfway between Revelstoke and Golden, making either town a convenient jumping-off point to get the most out of your time in the area.
Boasting a strong network of trails that were originally created to access the summits and glaciers within the area, it is easy to see how the park became known as the birthplace of mountaineering in North America. Here, you are able to explore rugged peaks and witness over 400 active glaciers as they continue to carve out the landscape of the Columbia Mountains. With such a rich history in the world of outdoor adventure, you should strongly consider adding your own chapter and exploring the breathtaking landscapes of Glacier National Park.
The 10 Greatest Hikes In Glacier National Park
Exploring the Selkirk Mountains - a sub-range of the Columbia Mountains - is no small task; however, Glacier National Park offers a number of different routes that vary in difficulty, meaning that you will always be able to find an adventure in the park that will suit your skill set. Whether you want to hike the rainforests along the valley floor or scramble your way up to a rugged summit, you can rest assured that there is a trail ready and waiting with your name on it.
Although the hiking season may be short, you won’t need a crazy amount of time to explore the park, as most of the main trails are located in close proximity to the highway. Snow can linger on some of the upper trails well into the summer, so think ahead and plan your trip based on the time of year and type of terrain that you would like to cover.
If you are looking to spend your time camping in the park as opposed to driving back and forth from a nearby town, try making plans to stay at the Illecillewaet Campground, which also happens to be the starting point for a number of summit and glacier trails. No matter how you decide to tackle your adventure in the park, there will always be something new and exciting waiting for you over the next ridge. Check out some of our favourite hikes in Glacier National Park below:
- Abbott Ridge Trail: Known for having some of the most picturesque views in the entire park, the Abbott Ridge Trail is one route that you surely won’t want to miss. The trail will lead you up the steep hillside to the top of the ridge, where you will have a commanding view across the valley and surrounding mountains.
- Bear Creek Falls: This short hike is a family-friendly adventure in the park that will lead you through the thick cover of the forest to reach a stunning waterfall. With easy access from the road and a short overall distance, this route is the perfect addition to completing another hike in the area or as a means to stretch your legs at the side of the road after a day of driving.
- Meeting of the Waters: If you are looking for a riverside walk with amazing views of nearby mountain peaks and a stunning waterfall, then the Meeting of the Waters might just be the trail for you. This family-friendly route climbs uphill along the Illecillewaet River to produce a commanding view over the watershed, giving you a better insight into the natural beauty of Glacier National Park.
- Balu Pass Trail: This lightly-trafficked trail will take you uphill through serene forests and charming meadows to reach a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding alpine terrain. Make sure to be bear-aware, as this route passes through an area frequented by the animals and is often closed for periods of the season if sightings are too frequent.
- Glacier Crest Trail: Hiking the Glacier Crest Trail is a scenic route that will allow you to take in some amazing views of nearby peaks and the Illecillewaet Glacier. The steep terrain and switchbacks on this trail will give you a good workout, but the breathtaking views are the real objective of the day.
- Asulkan Valley Trail: This difficult out-and-back route will see you climb uphill alongside Asulkan Brook for some truly spectacular views of the surrounding landscape of the park. At certain points along this 13.4km route you might feel like throwing in the towel, but pushing on to experience the views atop the crest is an irreplaceable feeling.
- Hermit Trail: The Hermit Trail is a challenging route that will lead you up to an alpine campsite surrounded by stunning views. Be sure to bring a GPS and prepare for a bit of a leg burn, as navigation along the steep and rugged terrain can be tough at times.
- Perley Rock Trail: This hike will take you across a number of streams as you climb the steep hillside to reach a viewpoint overlooking the Illecillewaet Glacier. Views along the trail are amazingly scenic, sweeping across the lush valley to include the surrounding mountains. Make sure to bring a few layers, as the area around the glacier can get pretty cold!
- Avalanche Crest Trail: Hiking the Avalanche Crest Trail will take you uphill through a beautiful stretch of rainforest to reach a lookout with some amazing views overlooking the surrounding alpine landscape. Upper portions of the trail are a bit technical, but they will reveal some breathtaking scenery that includes glaciers and jagged peaks.
- Hemlock Grove Boardwalk: This trail is an educational experience that will take you along a wooden boardwalk to witness a beautiful stretch of forest within Glacier National Park. While on the trail, you will have access to a wealth of information via interpretive signs about local plant and animal life, all while exploring the tranquil forest of cedar and hemlock trees.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Glacier National Park?
If you are looking to get the most out of your hiking trip in Glacier National Park and explore trails in both the valley and higher up in the mountains, the best time to plan your trip is in the July-October window. Although the park is open year-round and trails in the valley are available to use in May, any trails at higher elevations will likely be snowed in until early July. Additionally, the latter portion of the hiking season typically ends in October when the snow really begins to fall and skiing becomes the main focus of outdoor recreation efforts.
Other Outdoor Activities in Glacier National Park
With beautiful alpine meadows, dense stretches of forest and rugged mountain peaks, Glacier National Park is perfectly suited to outdoor exploration, particularly in terms of hiking and climbing. There are a number of routes in close proximity to the highway that will allow you to climb up the steep mountainside to reach stunning vistas overlooking the park, and there are also some mountain bike trails if you are looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush. For those interested in local history, try exploring the remnants of the region's rich railroad past or the ruins of the first luxury resort in the area. Mountaineering, fishing, camping, and skiing are also great options to further explore the natural beauty of Glacier National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions About Glacier National Park
How do you get to Glacier National Park?
Located right along the Trans-Canada Highway, Glacier National Park can be easily accessed by travelling east from Revelstoke or west from Golden.
Where should I stay if I want to visit Glacier National Park?
As mentioned above, Glacier National Park is easily accessible from both Revelstoke or Golden, with each offering accommodation, food, and access to their own unique outdoor opportunities.
Best Hikes in Glacier National Park, BC
Balu Pass Trail
The Balu Pass Trail is a lightly trafficked 11.4 km out-and-back hiking route that passes through grizzly bear territory on the way to some truly amazing alpine views. This awesome hike in Glacier National Park will have you climbing uphill through the forest before breaking out into a scenic meadow. From there, you will have sweeping views of the rugged mountains that characterize this beautiful landscape.
Abbott Ridge Trail
The Abbott Ridge Trail is a 15.9 km out-and-back route in Glacier National Park that will take you on a tough uphill climb to witness awesome views from atop the ridge. Visit the pristine waters of Marion Lake before pushing on to the ridgeline, where you will have a vantage point over the entire alpine valley. This trail is known for having some of the best views in the entire park.
Bear Creek Falls
The hike to Bear Creek Falls is a short out-and-back hiking route in Glacier National Park that is family-friendly and visits a truly awesome waterfall. Travel through the dense forest along the 1.1 kmkm path and make your descent to approach the violent waters that rush over this scenic rock formation. This quick hike is easy to tack onto your agenda if you are planning a trip to the park and definitely should not be skipped.
Meeting of the Waters
The Meeting of the Waters is a 6.1 km hiking route through Glacier National Park that climbs uphill along the Illecillewaet River to experience a majestic waterfall. Along the trail, hikers will be exposed to some amazing views overlooking the entire watershed and its surrounding mountains. This is a great medium-length hike in the park that the entire family is sure to love.
Glacier Crest Trail
The Glacier Crest Trail is a 12.7 km out-and-back hiking route in Glacier National Park that offers awesome views over the rugged mountains and the nearby Illecillewaet Glacier. Hike up the steep incline and winding switchbacks along the trail to arrive at the pole marking the end of the trail, from which point a further 100m trek will bring you to an amazing vantage point over the glacier. This trail is both a great workout and an opportunity to experience some beautiful BC terrain.
Asulkan Valley Trail
The Asulkan Valley Trail is a challenging out-and-back hiking route that travels 13.4 km through Glacier National Park to provide hikers with amazingly scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Hikers will climb uphill through the forest on a route that follows closely alongside the Asulkan Brook before making their way up the crest for some truly amazing sights. Portions of this trail are a bit of a grind, but the feeling of looking out over this picturesque valley is hard to beat.
The Rockgarden Trail is a quick little hike along the side of Highway 1 in Glacier National Park that features a beautiful stretch of rainforest and a unique boulder field. Thanks to the easy terrain and interesting setting this hike can be utilized by almost anyone, including families and experienced hikers. Walking along this forested trail is a calming experience, and likely a welcome one if you’ve been on the road for a while.
Hemlock Grove Boardwalk
Stroll along the well-maintained paths of the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk to experience the scenic woodland views that can be found within Glacier National Park. Along this fun interpretive trail, you will have access to a host of information on the plants and animals that can be found in the area, including the cedar and hemlock trees that give the trail their name. This short trail is great for roadside stops or as an add-on for other hikes in the area.
Perley Rock Trail
The Perley Rock Trail is a tough uphill hiking route in Glacier National Park that crosses over several rivers and streams on the way to a ridge that offers a viewpoint over the immense Illecillewaet Glacier. Along the trail, you will experience beautifully scenic views of the valley and surrounding mountains before visiting the glacier for an up-close view of its frosty surface and unique ice caves. Make sure to pack adequate layers, as it can be very chilly up by the glacier.
Marion Lake Lookout
The Marion Lake Lookout is a fantastic viewpoint located at the end of a 5.5 km out-and-back trail, from which hikers can look out over the mountain peaks that frame Rogers Pass. The trail features a bit of uphill climbing, but this is largely distributed through a series of switchbacks early on in the hike. Make sure to spend some time exploring around the lake and taking in the amazing alpine views of Glacier National Park.
Beaver River Trail
The Beaver River Trail is a 22.5 kmout-and-back hiking route that travels into the backcountry of Glacier National Park and provides some amazing views of the nearby mountains. Along the route, you will hike alongside the coursing waters of the river, while catching views of the natural beauty found within the park. This lengthy route is an awesome way to explore Glacier N.P. while building up the experience to try out some of its more difficult hikes.
Bostock Creek Trail
The Bostock Creek Trail is a 15.3 km out-and-back hiking route that climbs uphill alongside the rushing waters of the creek and traverses a mix of terrain that includes forested trails and an alpine meadow. Along this route, hikers will largely be surrounded by a beautiful forest setting, but will be able to catch glimpses of nearby mountains through the tree cover and when they break into the alpine.
Avalanche Crest Trail
Hike along the Avalanche Crest Trail to experience beautiful mountain top views and spot many of the frigid glaciers that can be found within Glacier National Park. Along the trail, you will hike through scenic rainforests of cedar and hemlock on the way to an amazing lookout over the alpine landscape. The end of this trail is a bit technical and challenging, but the views along the way are definitely worth the effort.
Video Peak Trail
The Video Peak Trail is a scenic 13.5 km hiking route in Glacier National Park that takes you through a picturesque alpine valley on the way to the summit. Along the trail, you will hike through a dense stretch of forest and cross over several creeks before breaking out into the alpine landscape and making your ascent of the mountain. From there, you will experience amazing views over the parks and the countless mountain peaks that mark the rugged landscape.
Hike along the Hermit Trail for a physically demanding but ultimately rewarding journey up to an alpine campsite in Glacier National Park. This route takes hikers on a steep uphill climb that is sure to leave your legs burning; however, the views of surrounding mountains are certainly worth the effort. Remember to bring a GPS, as route finding can be a bit difficult on this hike.
Loop Brook Trail
The Loop Brook Trail is a short, informative hiking route that will take you through the scenic valley to visit the stone remnants of an old railway trestle. Along the hike you will find informative signs that highlight the history of the area and experience the sights of nearby mountains including Bonney Mountain and the Bonney Glacier. This route is perfect for anyone looking to combine a love of history with the outdoors.
Great Glacier Trail
The Great Glacier Trail is an 7.9 km out-and back hiking route in Glacier National Park that features waterfalls, as well as amazing views of the Vaux Glacier and Mount Sir Donald. This hiking route travels along some fairly easy terrain and has a small elevation gain, making it a fun trek for hikers of all skill levels, including families. This is a low effort/high reward hiking route that should definitely be on your list if you are looking to explore the natural beauty of Glacier National Park.
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