The scenery, trails, and lakes of Glacier National Park are in the upper echelon of destinations the United States offers. It’s America’s version of the Canadian Rockies, and it’s no surprise its nickname is the ‘Crown Jewel of the Continent.” While I’d argue the eastern side of Glacier has better views, today, we’re highlighting west Glacier hikes.
Even though the other is amazing, this area still has some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
West Glacier National Park Hikes
Bowman Lake Trail
This was our surprise for the trip. I’d never been this far north in Glacier National Park, and Bowman Lake reminded me of the Canadian Rockies. For Glacier National Park hikes, it’s mostly flat with some ups and downs and goes the entire length of the lake if you so choose. We went about 2.5 miles in and then flipped around.
This isn’t as popular and is in grizzly country. Remember to make noise, hike in groups of three or more, and carry bear spray at all times.
Avalanche Lake Trail
The Avalanche Trail is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park. You’ll hike to a stunning lake with a massive granite backdrop at a little under six miles round trip. This is perfect for sunset as the rock glows with a magical orange.
Be aware of bear activity, though. They’re common in the area, and it is wise to have your bear spray accessible.
Sperry Chalet Trail
At 13 miles round trip, this West Glacier hike will take up most of your day. But it’s worth it, though! You’ll climb 3,500 feet up that winds you through a forest up to the Sperry Chalet, starting from lake level. Unfortunately, the temperature difference and sweaty clothes mean you may be QUITE cold at the top.
So I’d recommend bringing a change of clothes for the way down. Overall, its one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
Apgar Lookout Trail
From the bottom of McDonald Lake, this seven-mile round-trip trek gets you above the lake and offers some stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges and the lake itself. This is especially great early in the season before the rest of the higher-elevation trails melt out.
Related: Best things to do in Kalispell
McDonald Creek Trail
Starting at McDonald Lake Lodge, enjoy a nice walk along McDonald Creek. This nearly 6-mile out and back is generally flat and is excellent for the family. However, keep your eyes peeled as we saw a deer hanging out in the forest just off the trail.
Honestly, I wouldn’t say this is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, but it’s a nice family hike to get fresh air and see some wildlife.
Bonus: Hangout at McDonald Lake
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing dinner and bringing it down to the Lake McDonald shoreline to watch the sunset. This lake is famous for its ‘fruity-pebble’ like rocks that glisten in the clear water and is a favorite of photographers. I highly recommend bringing camp chairs and spending an evening here. You won’t be disappointed with this Glacier National Park spot.
Related: National Parks with Glaciers
Hiking gear to bring with you to Glacier National Park
- Wool base layer to keep you warm: Men’s and Women’s
- Nice comfy fleece as a mid-layer: Men’s and Women’s
- Down Jacket for extra warmth: Men’s and Women’s
- Comfy yet durable pants: Men’s and Women’s
- Rain jacket: Men’s and Women’s
- Wool Socks: Men’s and Women’s
- Sturdy Hiking Shoes: Men’s and Women’s
- Midsized hiking backpack: 20L, 25L, 30L
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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