glacier national park montana

5 ‘must-do’ hikes in West Glacier National Park

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 the best West Glacier hikes.

Even though the other is amazing, this area still has some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park.

Best Hikes in West Glacier National Park

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.

bowman lake glacier national park
west glacier hikes bowman lake

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.

avalanche lake west glacier hikes glacier national park avalanche lake

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.

I recommend bringing a change of clothes for the way down. Overall, it’s one of the best West Glacier hikes.

Sperry Chalet hike west glacier glacier national park mountain goat

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 West Glacier National Park, but it’s a nice family hike to get fresh air and see some wildlife.

mcdonald creek trail glacier

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.

mcdonald lake glacier national park
mcdonald lake west glacier hikes

Related: National Parks with Glaciers

Hiking gear to bring with you to Glacier National Park

Other West Glacier Activities

If you’re looking for more fun things to do around Glacier after hitting the best West Glacier hikes, click here or see the list below!

Final Thoughts on these Best West Glacier Hikes

The west side of Glacier National Park is by far the most popular, and you can see why. The views are gorgeous, the hikes incredible, and there are plenty of other things to do in the area as well. So, as you plan your trip to Glacier, make sure you knock off a couple of these epic hikes and see what makes Montana so amazing!

Until next time, adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside