Hikes in Glacier National Park

Region in Montana, United States

Sculpted over millennia by ancient ice giants, Glacier National Park is one of North America’s finest jewels. Indeed, the scenery and landscapes here are so fine that the region has been dubbed the ‘Crown of the Continent’, and it’s widely regarded as one of the most marvelous places for hiking in North America. While there are still traces of the colossal glaciers that carved out the mountains and valleys, today this region is a lush, green, flower-strewn paradise.

With over 1000km of hiking trails, most of which lie in the backcountry, hiking in Glacier National Park is a real treat. Littered with stunning, crystal lakes and gurgling rivers and brooks, it’s easy to see that this is a land that has been shaped by water and ice. The craggy rocky mountain peaks, still decorated by glaciers, dominate the horizon and make for an incredible vista once you get above the treeline. However, a hike in Glacier National Park will also take you through dense forests and across expansive alpine meadows, covered with a carpet of beautiful, delicate flowers in the spring and summer.

There are many opportunities for wildlife spotting across the park, and you might have the chance to see big horned sheep, cougars, wolverines, moose, black bears and grizzly bears. Over 200 species of birds call the park their home, including harlequin ducks, blue herons, peregrine falcons and golden eagles. Don’t forget your camera – Glacier National Park is a photographer’s dream.

This jewel of Montana deserves to be explored, so if you’re looking for your next hiking adventure, why not choose Glacier National Park? We’re sure you won’t regret it!

The Top Hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is an increasingly popular hiking destination, attracting visitors from all over North America, and even further afield! It’s increasingly seen as a great place for experienced hikers to get in shape and build their fitness by taking on some challenging day hikes and backpacking trips, with plenty of strenuous trails that rise to high passes and ridges. If you’re a fit, experienced hiker, you certainly won’t be disappointed by the range of challenging trails on offer throughout the park.

However, if you’re a beginner trekker, or traveling with family, there are lots of other types of hiking in Glacier National Park. Low elevation trails that skirt the lakes and rivers are an excellent option for groups with younger children, offering plenty of interesting things to look at along the way. In particular, kids will love the chance to do a little wildlife spotting, or admire one of the many gushing waterfalls in the park. Many of the easier trails have boardwalk paths to provide easy access for those with mobility issues, and there are lots of guided and non-guided nature trails to allow you to experience the best that the park has to offer!

  • Hidden Lake Overlook Hike: This stunning short walk to the Hidden Lake Overlook is one of our favorite easy hikes in Glacier National Park! You’ll pass by the beautiful ‘Hanging Gardens’, filled with alpine flowers, before reaching the spectacular viewpoint over the lake. With breathtaking mountain views, Rocky Mountain Goats on the route, and bears fishing for salmon in the lake, there’s plenty to see along the way! It’s a (deservedly) popular route and you’re likely to encounter lots of other visitors on the trail, so try to come early to avoid the crowds.
  • St Mary and Virginia Falls Hikes: This family-friendly route takes in two beautiful waterfalls close to Logan Pass on the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Both St Mary and Virginia Falls are surrounded by fine mists that catch the light perfectly on a sunny day, and kids will love to see the tumbling falls surrounded by lush, green forest. The perfect family day out.
  • Swiftcurrent Pass Hike: This incredible day hike in Glacier National Park is a real treat for adventurous hikers. You’ll pass alongside the river, by beautiful lakes and gushing waterfalls, before heading steeply uphill to the pass. The views are spectacular all along the way, with alpine meadows and dramatic vistas over the chain of lakes that stretches all the way to Lake Sherburne.
  • The Highline Hike: If you can only do one challenging hike in Glacier National Park, make it the Highline Trail! This iconic trek is one of the most popular routes along the Continental Divide, offering a good workout in some of North America’s finest terrain. With flower-filled meadows, serene lakes and mind-blowing mountain views, this is one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park at its best.
  • Piegan Pass Hike: If you’re in the Many Glacier area, why not try this magnificent hike up to Piegan Pass? The trail rises gently through forests, meadows and gurgling streams, before emerging at the top of the pass. You’ll enjoy a marvelous panorama over Piegan Mountain on one side and Cataract Mountain on the other, in addition to the other major peaks of the region.
  • Scenic Point Hike: The aptly named Scenic Point Hike is known for its incredible views over the Two Medicine Area of Glacier National Park. This region is very important to the Blackfeet nation, who trace their origins to the mountains and springs within the park. You can admire the valley as you switchback up the mountain, and look out over the Upper and Lower Two Medicine Lakes and the Sweetgrass Hills from the top.
  • Swiftcurrent Creek Hike: This hike passes along a stunning valley, offering plenty to see and do along the way! You’ll enjoy a view of the pleasant Redrock Lake and the gushing Redrock Falls, pass through forests and over streams, and even tackle a (very bouncy) suspension bridge! The mountain views are spectacular, and kids will love the varied scenery and the chance to spot the occasional moose along the trail.
  • Iceberg Lake Hike: If you’re looking for an early summer hike in Glacier National Park, try this stunning trail that springs to life at the beginning of the season. Decorated all along the way with gorgeous wildflowers, this is a photographer’s paradise, with the intense blue of the lake perfectly offsetting the craggy gray ridge that surrounds it, usually still flecked with a little snow. The eponymous icebergs dot the lake in early summer, making this a unique and magical spot for a rest before retracing your footsteps back to the start.
  • Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike: The Ptarmigan Tunnel is one of Glacier National Park’s most unusual attractions, comprising a 76m passageway through the seemingly impenetrable rock of the Ptarmigan Wall. This magnificent trail offers a treat for those with enough energy to make the climb up to the tunnel: an incredible view over Elizabeth Lake and Natoas Peak. With lakes, waterfalls and atmospheric forests along the way, this is a hike that certainly won’t disappoint!
  • Grinnell Glacier Trail Hike: Widely regarded as one of the best hikes in the United States, the Grinnell Glacier Trail offers hikers a wonderful set of riches to admire. Right from the start, this trail will take your breath away, passing by the Swiftcurrent Creek and winding up towards Lake Josephine. There’s an exhilarating climb across carved ledges, up to an incredible viewing point where you can take in views of the Cirque surrounding Upper Grinnell Lake. This trail is not for the fainthearted, but certainly worth the effort.

You can find all 34 trails in Glacier National Park below.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Glacier National Park?

Like many other Rocky Mountain destinations, the main hiking season in Glacier National Park is relatively short, from June to September. Some of the higher elevation trails are only accessible in July and August, and even in early summer you can expect to see a little snow on higher ground. Lower elevation trails are accessible from late May/early June, although June experiences high precipitation, which often falls as snow on higher ground. As a result, the best time to hike here is September, before the winter snows begin, when the weather is warm and sunny. By this time, the crowds on the busiest trails have dissipated, so you’ll be able to enjoy the park in peace. Whatever time of year you choose, remember that weather in the mountains is unpredictable and can change rapidly, so come prepared!

Other Outdoor Activities In Glacier National Park

While hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Glacier National Park, there are plenty of other things to do if you’re a fan of the Great Outdoors! In summer, the park is a paradise for backpacking adventures, with many multi-day trekking options in the backcountry. It’s also a good place to try your hand at road biking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, or take advantage of the many lakes and rivers to go boating or fishing (permits required). In winter, although the hiking trails are difficult to access, this is an excellent opportunity for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

How To Plan A Trip To Glacier National Park

Is Glacier National Park on your hiking bucket list? If so, take advantage of our comprehensive guide to planning a trip to Glacier National Park. You’ll find everything you need to get going, including advice about where to stay, where to eat, and all the best things to do during your trip. We’ve also got an ideal itinerary for the perfect day out in the region. We’ve fallen in love with this stunning hiking paradise, and we’re sure you will too!

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Glacier National Park

Do I need a permit to enter the park?

Yes, to hike in Glacier National Park you’ll need to purchase an entrance ticket, and you’ll need to buy a permit for activities such as backcountry camping, fishing, or boating. There can often be a lot of competition for backcountry permits in peak season so to avoid the queues, make an advance reservation well in advance to secure permits for your group.

Can you hike to a glacier in Glacier National Park?

The many glaciers that give the park its name have been retreating at a rapid pace in recent years as a result of human-induced climate change, with up to 70% loss in some areas. Many of the remaining glaciers in the park are perched high in the mountains, or obscured by the permanent snowfield. However, it is still possible to hike to some glaciers, the most popular route being the challenging hike to Grinnell Glacier.

Where should I stay when visiting Glacier National Park?

There are 13 campgrounds in Glacier National Park, all of which offer good facilities and room for both tents and RV campers. For those with an adventurous spirit, it’s also possible to camp in the backcountry, but make sure that you’ve secured a permit first. If you don’t fancy spending your nights under canvas, there are also several lodges and chalets close to the park, and plenty of hotels in the small towns of Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Somers and Bigfork.

Are there bears in Glacier National Park?

Glacier National Park is home to both grizzly bears and black bears, and it’s important to follow advice and take adequate precautions if you are hiking in the backcountry. However, bear-related incidents in the park are very rare. Occasionally the park ranges will close some trails or restrict access if it’s likely that there will be lots of bears in the vicinity (i.e., in prime fishing locations).

Is Glacier National Park dangerous?

Hiking in Glacier National Park is one of the best adventures you can have with your family and friends! However, hiking in a wilderness area does come with risks, and it’s important to be aware and to come prepared. Always follow advice from the park authorities, and check weather conditions before you embark on a hike. Make sure you are adequately kitted out for your hike, with emergency food, water, shelter, flashlights and other safety equipment.

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Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

Showing 1 to 20 of 72
    Open details for Grinnell Glacier Trail

    Grinnell Glacier Trail

    Hard
    16.1 km
    625 m
    4.5-6.5h

    Grinnell Glacier is a spectacular hike in Glacier National Park, which will take you past stunning lakes, across vertical rock faces, and through gushing waterfalls (early in the season). You’ll have plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting all along the trail, which culminates in a spectacular lake and waterfall. All of these experiences combine to make the Grinnell Glacier hike one of the best hikes in the USA.

    User Ratings
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    9.8
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Hidden Lake Overlook Trail

    Hidden Lake Overlook Trail

    Very Easy
    4.2 km
    165 m
    1-1.5h

    We can hardly think of another short hike in the world that can rival the views from the Hidden Lake Overlook in Glacier National Park, Montana. In addition to witnessing some spectacular views, you might get lucky and spot some handsome Rocky Mountain goats nearby on the trail!

    User Ratings
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    9.7
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

    Swiftcurrent Pass Trail

    Very Hard
    21.9 km
    820 m
    6-8.5h

    The Swiftcurrent Pass hike is a wonderful day out on the trails, with a route that is sure to keep you guessing. There is the option of a linear hike to Granite Park Chalet and down to the loop on Going-to-the-Sun road, but make sure tocarefully confirm transportation if you’re not doing a car shuttle.

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    9.7
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Avalanche Lake

    Avalanche Lake

    Easy
    10.1 km
    202 m
    2.5-3.5h

    Avalanche Lake is a classic hike in Glacier National Park. Setting off from Trail of the Cedars trailhead, you start your trek through a unique flora section, usually found on the Pacific coast. Continuing past roaring glacial waters of Avalanche Creek, and through a field peppered with avalanche remnants, you come to the beautiful lake cradled by snow-swept mountain peaks.

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    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for The Highline

    The Highline

    Very Hard
    21.4 km
    705 m
    5.5-8h

    The Highline is one of Glacier’s legendary hikes along the Continental Divide. Thanks to the efficient free buses along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you can take a bus back to your car from the trail – though make sure you know when the last bus is!

    User Ratings
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    9.2
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike

    Ptarmigan Tunnel Hike

    Hard
    18.2 km
    760 m
    5.5-7.5h

    A hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel is a wonderful day out in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. The stunning Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail is known for its beautiful forest, streams, lakes and sheer cliffs. The path through the Tunnel takes you into another world, with totally different, even more breathtaking views.

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    9.7
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Iceberg Lake Trail

    Iceberg Lake Trail

    Moderate
    16.4 km
    465 m
    4-6h

    Iceberg Lake is a wonderful hike in the Many Glacier area, especially early in the season when there are still icebergs that contrast the incredible blue colour of the water! The trail also includes beautiful wildflower meadows and stunning mountain views.

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    9.4
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    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Open details for Pitamakan Dawson Loop

    Pitamakan Dawson Loop

    Very Hard
    28.4 km
    958 m
    7.5-11h

    The Pitamakan Dawson Loop is a strenuous and rewarding hike on the east side of Glacier National Park. Setting out from the Two Medicine Campground, the trail takes you through many different environments in Glacier National Park. If you have the experience and fitness level to complete this hike, it is one of the best treks in the park!

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    9.5
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Swiftcurrent Creek and the Lakes

    Swiftcurrent Creek and the Lakes

    Easy
    12.4 km
    230 m
    3-4h

    The Swiftcurrent Creek hike is a wonderful day out in the Many Glacier area with great views, alpine flowers and the opportunity to see some game. Turn back anywhere along the trail, however we prefer getting to the end of the valley, just below the switchbacks up to the Pass.

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    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Scenic Point

    Scenic Point

    Moderate
    9.7 km
    635 m
    3.5-5h

    The Scenic Point trail includes beautiful mountain views, culminating with a fine viewpoint in the Two Medicine Area of Glacier Park – a must-see on any visit. The drive alone from St. Mary is exhilarating, on a narrow twisting road with great scenery.

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    9.7
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Siyeh Pass

    Siyeh Pass

    Moderate
    16.4 km
    675 m
    5-6.5h

    Siyeh Pass Loop is located on the east side of Glacier National Park and is easily considered one of the best hikes in the park. With stunning views of waterfalls, glaciers, and peaks plus a trail through meadows and forests, this is definitely a worthwhile hike in Glacier National Park.

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    9.8
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
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    Open details for Cracker Lake Trail

    Cracker Lake Trail

    Hard
    21.3 km
    616 m
    5.5-7.5h

    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 2.0 mi, 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!

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    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Piegan Pass Trail

    Piegan Pass Trail

    Moderate
    14.7 km
    550 m
    4-6h

    Piegan Pass Trail is a great day out in the Many Glacier area that will take you to a spectacular viewpoint, complete with stunning mountain scenery. If you’re adventurous, try combining this with the Siyeh Pass trail, but that’s a darn long day!

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    9.5
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for St Mary and Virginia Falls

    St Mary and Virginia Falls

    Very Easy
    5.8 km
    190 m
    1.5-2h

    St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trail is a pleasant hike near Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. These family-friendly routes include a tranquil waterfall and a more dramatic one, along with gentle climbs through a lush green forest.

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    Overall Rating
    9.6
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Bullhead Lake Hike

    Bullhead Lake Hike

    Easy
    11.1 km
    135 m
    2.5-3.5h

    Wandering through Bullhead Lake trail will reward you in more ways than one. Discover Fishercap Lake and its surrounding mountains shortly into the hike. Continuing on, you will come across Redrock Lake with stunning views of Mount Grinnell with Redrock Falls below and Swiftcurrent Glacier to the West. If you are looking to spot wildlife on your hike, Bullhead Lake trail is known for its abundance of animals roaming in their natural habitat.

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    Open details for Firebrand Pass Trail

    Firebrand Pass Trail

    Moderate
    17.2 km
    674 m
    5-7h

    The remote Firebrand Pass Trail grants hikers the opportunity to marvel at wildlife and enjoy beautiful views of Calf Robe and Red Crow mountains in solitude. In the summer months, wildflowers encompass the fields and compliment the mountains surrounding them. The layout of Firebrand Pass can produce strong winds, so a windbreaker is advised!

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    Open details for Sunrift Gorge Trail

    Sunrift Gorge Trail

    Very Easy
    1.1 km
    33 m
    0.5h

    Sunrift Gorge is a visually stunning, short hike to the narrow channels carved through the bedrock due to water melting down from Sexton Glacier. This hike is family-friendly and does not have much acceleration, so it is great for kids. Round up the family and explore this beautiful natural phenomenon right off of the Going to the Sun Road.

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    Open details for Dawson Pass Trail

    Dawson Pass Trail

    Very Hard
    27.7 km
    1,110 m
    8-11h

    Dawson Pass Trail is a beautiful hike that is quite challenging and is not for the faint of heart. While trekking through this heart-pumping trail, you will be rewarded with incredible views. Make sure to bring you bear spray as you will be hiking through prime grizzly bear habitat.

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    Open details for Grinnell Lake Trail

    Grinnell Lake Trail

    Easy
    11.4 km
    107 m
    2.5-3h

    Grinnell Lake Trail begins from Many Glacier Hotel and takes you through stunning scenery of glacier-fed lakes. As you gaze at the beautiful mountains in the distance across from Grinnell Lake, you can see the water running down creating tiny waterfalls. This hike, although somewhat long, does not entail much elevation change.

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    Open details for Lake Josephine Trail

    Lake Josephine Trail

    Moderate
    7.8 km
    30 m
    1.5-2h

    Lake Josephine Trail takes you on a circuit hike around the lake, with views of the mountains at every turn. This hike is great for people who want a relaxing journey with a chance to see some wildlife that lives along the trail. This is prime grizzly bear habitat, so keep your eyes open and remember your bear spray.

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