If you’re looking for the best hikes in Glacier National Park, you’ve come to the right place! Glacier National Park is a wilderness treasure trove, offering some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the United States. From its glacier-carved valleys and rugged peaks to its crystal-clear lakes and cascading waterfalls, this park is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.
With over 700 miles of trails, visitors can explore this incredible landscape on foot, taking in the breathtaking vistas from every angle. There’s truly nothing like Glacier National Park hiking.
Below are some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park that will blow your mind and leave you hungry for more! Just as a forewarning, most of these are moderate to challenging, which is what a lot of Glacier National Park is. To reach these vistas, you’ll want to trail before going to maximize your trip!
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How to Discover the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
What you need to know about visiting and hiking in Glacier National Park
Which side of Glacier National Park is most scenic?
I find the east side of Glacier to be more dramatic and beautiful. Of course, you also can’t discount the stunning views at Logan Pass either. But if I were planning a trip, the Many Glacier side would get my attention. Many of those hikes are listed below.
Is it better to stay in East or West Glacier National Park?
It’s easier to stay on the west side as Columbia Falls, West Glacier Village, and Whitefish are nearby for lodging. On the east side, you have fewer options as it borders the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. However, there are still places to stay on the east side to take the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
Best places to book your hotel:
- Columbia Falls
- East Glacier
- Kalispell – Check out the best things to see here
Do I need a permit to visit Glacier National Park?
A permit is required to enter Glacier National Park during the summer months. The areas with permits are Going-to-the-Sun Road, the North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier. These permits go into effect from May 26-September 10. (The east side’s permits are in effect from July 1 through September 10.)
Furthermore, these permits apply from 6 am – 3 pm. Outside this window, you can enter (though expect lines in the afternoon). Glacier National Park offers 4-month advance permits as well as 24-hour advance permits. You can book these on Recreation.gov.
How can I avoid the crowds on my trip to Glacier?
Glacier is crowded these days. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot one can do to avoid them altogether. My biggest suggestions are to hike early and late and tackle more challenging trails that see fewer people. In addition, visiting during the week vs. on the weekends can help you somewhat beat the crowds.
What is the most popular hike in Glacier National Park?
I dive into the best hikes in Glacier National Park below, but the most popular are Avalanche Lake, Grinnell Glacier, Cracker Lake, and Hidden Lake.
What is the best month to hike Glacier National Park’s best trails?
Overall, the summer months, from July through September, are the best months to hike in Glacier. The trails will have melted out by then, and you’ll have gorgeous views from wherever you hike!
But if we have to choose one month, I’d say August. The days are long, the weather is perfect, and it’s too early for wildfire season.
What not to miss in Glacier National Park?
Here are four things not to miss when visiting Glacier National Park:
- Going-to-the-Sun Road and Logan Pass
- Grinnell Glacier
- Avalanche Lake
- Bowman Lake
How many days do we need for the Glacier National Park best hikes?
In order to do as many of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, I recommend at least five days in the park – especially if you’re going to see both sides. This is the Crown Jewel of the Continent, and you should not try to rush the experience.
What is the prettiest part of Glacier National Park?
As I’ve touched on already, the Many Glacier portion of Glacier National Park is unbelievably beautiful. You have the best hikes in Glacier National Park, starting from the same area, leading to ridiculous views. I could spend all summer in this area!
The Ultimate Guide to the 13 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
One of the most famous and popular Glacier National Park hiking trails. This iconic hike takes you along a narrow ridge high, offering breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. With a length of 11 miles, this is a strenuous hike that requires a good fitness level, but the reward is well worth the effort.
If you pick just a couple of the Glacier National Park best hikes, ensure you do this one.
Find the perfect backpacking pack
Hands down my favorite hike in Glacier National Park. This hike takes you to one of the park’s most stunning glaciers, the Grinnell Glacier. The trail is 7.6 miles round trip, with a challenging ascent through alpine meadows and over creeks.
The trail ends at the base of the glacier, where you can see the blue ice and hear the creaking and cracking of the glacier as it moves. Easily one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park and one you NEED to do. I honestly think about this hike a lot, haha!
A beautiful hike takes you through the forest and along the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake to the stunning Iceberg Lake. With a length of 9.7 miles round trip, this hike is a bit of a workout, but the scenery along the way and the crystal-clear blue waters of the lake make it well worth it.
Keep a lookout for wildlife and bear grass, as both can be plentiful. Unfortunately, the lake was frozen over when I went in mid-June. Still, it was glorious and one of Glacier National Park’s best hikes.
What to bring on a backpacking trip
Two Medicine Lake
A moderate hike that takes you through lush forests and alonTwo Medicine Lake’s shore offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The trail is 3.7 miles round trip and is an excellent choice for families or anyone looking for a shorter hike. Further back, you’ll find a lovely waterfall that makes for an amazing lunch/break spot!
Lastly, it’s one of Glacier National Park’s best hikes.
There’s simply nothing like Glacier National Park hiking. Starting from Logan Pass, you’ll hike through meadows filled with wildflowers and stunning views. With a length of 6.6 miles round trip, this hike is a bit of a workout, but the reward is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks.
I highly recommend it as one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park
To note: The lake has a lot of bear activity and is usually closed at the Overlook. From Logan Pass to the Overlook is a pretty easy 1.5-mile hike.
Flat but long. The Bowman Lake trails take you along the north end of the lake, surrounded by towering peaks and dense forests. With a length of 8 miles round trip, this hike offers a peaceful escape from the busy park and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
An excellent choice for those looking for a full day of adventure and breathtaking scenery. For the west side, I think this offers the best views of the entire park and is an easy addition to best Glacier National Park hikes.
Siyeh Pass is challenging but offers fantastic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. With a length of 10.2 miles round trip, this hike is not for all, but for those who make it; you’ll be impressed. I’d highly recommend taking on this challenge and completing one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
Get your backpacking questions answered.
Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake
A moderate yet popular hike that takes you through a lush forest of Western Red Cedars and Hemlocks, offering a peaceful escape from the sun and heat. The trail is 6 miles round trip and is phenomenal. If you go at sunset, the top of the peaks will glow like in the photo below.
Add this to your must-do Glacier National Park hikes. I mean, look at it. It’s truly one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
This strenuous hike takes you over Swiftcurrent Pass, offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. This hike is formidable at 14.4 miles round trip, but breathtaking panoramic views await you on one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
Another challenging hike takes you over Gunsight Pass, offering spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. At 17.6 miles round trip, this hike is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is magnificent.
Considering how long this one is, I wouldn’t do it if you are short on time and instead focus on the other hikes.
Loop Trail at Many Glacier
This moderate hike takes you through alpine meadows and along the shores of Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes, offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers. With a length of 7.4 miles, this hike is an excellent choice for those looking for a full day of adventure and breathtaking scenery.
This is a classic and the easiest of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
This strenuous hike takes you to the stunning turquoise waters of Cracker Lake, Cracker Lake is a perfect day hi, surrounded by towering peaks and glaciers. With a length of 11 miles round trip, this hike is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is an unforgettable experience.
This is at the apex of Glacier National Park hiking trails. However, make sure it’s open as bears frequent this area, and the park will close it down.
This strenuous hike takes you to the historic Sperry Chalet, offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. With a length of 8 miles one way, this hike is not for the faint of heart. But the reward is a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful corners of the park.
The chalet, built in 1913, provides a cozy overnight stay for hikers, with a restaurant and comfortable rooms to relax in after a long day of hiking. This is a perfect choice for a multi-day adventure in the wilderness.
Considering it’s one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, it doesn’t get as much traffic comparatively speaking, even though it’s a brilliant hike.
What gear do I need for hiking in Glacier National Park?
To tackle the best hikes in Glacier National Park. With high in the 60s-70s, you will likely need warmer clothes during the morning and night, but during the day can do fine with a short sleeve shirt.
Glacier National Park Hikes – Clothes
Best Hikes in Glacier National Park – Gear
FAQ: Best hikes in Glacier National Park
When should I avoid Glacier National Park?
Honestly, never. It’s so dang good. But, the dead of winter can be a bit frigid, and a lot of the park is closed off. Also, weekends during the summer can be a bit rough in terms of crowds and parking. Still, it’s worth it, and you can still knock out a couple of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
What is the least crowded hike in Glacier National Park?
Places that are less accessible will have the least amount of crowds. If you head far north on the west side up to Bowman Lake, Quartz Lake, or Kitnla Lake, you’ll have more solitude.
What is the busiest month in Glacier National Park?
July and August are the most crowded months in Glacier. It’s also the top months to be there. All of the best hikes in Glacier are snow free and super accessible!
Is Glacier better than Yellowstone?
I would argue it is because of how much hiking there is to do in Glacier National Park, while Yellowstone is more about sightseeing. The best hikes in Glacier National Park trounce the best in Yellowstone. But I would still recommend seeing both, and you can have an awesome road trip too.
Wrapping up – Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
Hopefully, you find yourself out on these incredible Glacier National Park hiking trails this summer and experience the beauty for yourself. There’s truly nothing like the best hikes in Glacier National Park.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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