Cracker Lake hike
Cracker Lake's hike reveals stunning views of the canyon while leading you to the magical alpine lake. But before beautiful vistas envelop you, you'll have to travel along a horse loop for 3.2km, which may not produce the most pleasant smells in the world. Once you're past this initial part of the trail, it becomes incredibly scenic and definitely worth the initial slog!
Start from the top end of the parking lot at Many Glacier. From Babb, on US 89, take Rte 3 into Glacier National Park Many Glacier Entrance. Continue for roughly 17.7km (through the gates) to Many Glacier hotel.
|When to do|
May - October
Older Children only
Out and back
Route Description for Cracker Lake
Expect a muddy, buggy first 3.2km, as horses from Many Glacier share this trail! Later in the season, it may be scorched and rutted – either way, the first 3.2km are quite challenging to get through. But beauty awaits you on the other side!
The hike begins at the Piegan Pass/Cracker Lake trailhead at the end of the parking lot in Many Glacier. Following the trail along the horse loop for the first 3.2km, you will eventually cross a small bridge over Allen Creek, which will bring you to the end of the horse loop. At this point, hikers should head straight through the junction and will notice the conditions of the trail improve significantly.
The trail begins to ascend along switchbacks. After another 1.6km, you will catch a glimpse of a large waterfall cascading through the trees ahead. Another 1.6km later, you will reach a break in the forest and views of the canyon will emerge into view. Shortly after, roughly 0.8km after viewing the canyon for the first time, you will cross canyon creek and reenter the forest for another 1.6km.
Once you leave the forest, at roughly 7.6km from the trailhead, you will experience unobstructed views until you reach the lake. You can not see the lake at this point, but canyon vista is spectacular. After another 1.6km, the lake will start to inch into the foreground. You can stop here and head back, or if you have the energy, continue onwards to the abandoned Cracker Lake Mine and the lake itself.
This is prime grizzly country - be bear aware. Bring bear spray, travel in groups, make plenty of noise as you come around twists and turns. Your odds of seeing a grizzly on this hike are very high.
Do note that there is a three-site campground nearby, so you can always opt to turn this into a backpacking trip.
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