April 23, 2024
Glacier National Park

12 Best day hikes in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana, is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, with millions of visitors every year. One reason that Glacier National Park has so many visitors is because it has over 700 miles of hiking trails. With so many to choose from, I have picked our 12 best day hikes in Glacier National Park, and hopefully, by reading this, you will pick one or two of these hikes on your next visit to this beautiful park.

Here is the list of best day hikes in Glacier National Park

1 Cracker Lake Trail

best day hikes in glacier national park
Photo Source Flickr | David Taylor
  • Distance: 12.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
  • Trailhead: Many Glacier Hotel parking lot
  • Length of Time: 6 to 7 hours

The Cracker Lake Trail is located in the Many Glacier sections of the park. This hike leads to a beautiful alpine lake and offers spectacular views of Swiftcurrent Mountain and Mount Wilbur. This hike gives you plenty of opportunities for pictures along the way! You can also camp at Cracker Lake (permit needed) if you want to make a weekend out of your trip. Make sure to bring plenty of water, as there isn’t any available on the trail or at Cracker Lake itself.

2 Trail of the Cedars

hiking glacier national park
Photo Source Flickr | Lee Coursey
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 60 feet
  • Trailhead: Avalanche Creek Picnic Area
  • Length of Time: 30 minutes

It’s one of my favorite trails for several reasons: 1) it’s relatively short and easy (it can be done by most people), 2) it features some beautiful views, and 3) it offers excellent opportunities to see wildlife. If you’re looking for an easy hike that won’t take up too much time but will still offer beautiful scenery and views of wildlife, I highly recommend checking out the Trail of the Cedars!

Read More: Hardest hikes in the US

Read more: Most Famous National Parks In the US

3 Quartz Lake Loop

best day hikes in glacier national park
Photo source Flickr | Kristin Owens
  • Distance: 12.8 miles
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult 
  • Elevation Gain: 2,378 feet
  • Trailhead: Bowman Lake Campground
  • Length of Time: 6 to 7 hours

This is one of my favorite hikes to do in Glacier National Park. The trailhead for Quartz Lake Loop is just south of St Mary on Highway 89 near mile marker 73. There are no facilities available at Quartz Lake so be sure to have all your supplies before you start hiking! The best time to visit Quartz Lake Loop is during early summer when wildflowers bloom along much of its length or in mid-late fall when there are still plenty of colors left. The trail is well maintained and the bridge area is scenic.

4 Grinnell Glacier Trail

hiking in glacier national park
  • Distance: 10.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 1840 feet
  • Trailhead: Continental Divide Trail
  • Length of Time: 5.30 hours

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Grinnell Glacier Trail is an epic 10-mile trek that takes you through some of the park’s most beautiful alpine scenery. From towering waterfalls to awe-inspiring mountain views, this trail has it all. And best of all, at the end lies one of the park’s best-kept secrets: Grinnell Glacier (or “the glacier behind the lake,” as the locals call it).

5 Avalanche Lake Trail

glacier national park
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Trailhead: Trail of the Cedars
  • Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours

This short but sweet 4-mile hike takes you to one of Glacier’s most famous lakes, Avalanche Lake. Situated at the base of a towering mountain, the lake is fed by several cascading waterfalls and offers stunning views in all directions. The Avalanche Lake Trail is also one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park, so be prepared for crowds.

6 Siyeh Pass Trail

Siyeh pass trail
Pic credits Lauren Bloomenthal
  • Distance: 4.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 2,240 feet
  • Trailhead: Piegan Pass Trailhead
  • Length of Time: 5 hours

One of the best views in Glacier National Park can be found on the Siyeh Pass Trail. This hike takes you to the top of Siyeh Pass, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

7 Piegan Pass

Piegan Pass hiking
photo source Flicker | Troy smith
  • Distance: 12.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 3,506 feet
  • Trailhead: Siyeh Bend Trailhead
  • Length of Time: 6 to 7 ho

It’s just as thrilling as the Highline Trail, but it’s far less crowded. This hike takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Glacier National Park, including alpine meadows, wildflowers, and waterfalls.

8 Highline Trail to the Loop

Highline trail to the loop
Photo Source Flicker | Frank Fujimoto
  • Distance: 11.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,950 feet
  • Trailhead: Logan Pass
  • Length of Time: 6 to 7 hours

The Highline Loop in Glacier National Park starts at Logan Pass on the north side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This hike is best for experienced hikers, as it involves steep climbs and rocky paths. The views along the way are some of the best in Glacier National Park, so be sure to make this a priority on your next visit.

9 Iceberg Lake Trail

iceberg lake trail
Photo source Pixabay
  • Distance: 9.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 1,257 feet
  • Trailhead: Iceberg Ptarmigan Trailhead
  • Length of Time: 4 to 5 hours

The Iceberg Lake Trail is a long day hike, but it’s well worth it as this is one of the most scenic trails in Glacier National Park. The trail takes you through avalanche chutes and past waterfalls before reaching the lake where you’ll have great views of the surrounding mountains covered in glaciers.

This is one of Glacier’s most popular hikes. Before splitting off from Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, the trail gradually ascends through open meadows and a forested section. You’ll eventually arrive at Iceberg Lake, which gets its name from the countless icebergs that float freely on the water during the summer months. The lake is frozen in the winter. I recommend merging this trail with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail for a 15-mile all-day experience! 

10 Hidden Lake Overlook

Hidden lake overlook
Photo source Flickr | Andrew Parlette
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 460 feet
  • Trailhead: Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Length of Time: 1.5 hours

The path to Glacier National Park’s Hidden Hidden Lake Overlook starts on the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Lake Overlook is one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park, and for a good reason.

The out and back trail takes you through subalpine meadows full of wildflowers before reaching the Hidden Lake Overlook, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Hidden Lake and the surrounding mountains.

11 Firebrand Pass

Firebrand Pass
Photo source Flickr | Troy Smih
  • Distance: 10.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,861 feet
  • Trailhead: Lubec Trailhead
  • Length of Time: 5 to 6 hours

Firebrand Pass is one of the best day hikes at Glacier National Park, and it will give you an excellent insight into the raw beauty of this national park.

This hike, which starts from the Lubec Trailhead, takes you across picturesque views and a vast range of flora and fauna. You will see cascading waterfalls, thundering rivers, beautiful meadows with wildflowers, lakes full of fish (which unfortunately cannot be caught), gushing streams, and more on this hike that may take anywhere from 5 hours to a whole day.

12 Gunsight Pass Trail

glacier national park
Photo source Flickr | Doug Letterman
  • Distance: 20.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Trailhead: Jackson Glacier Overlook
  • Length of Time: 11 to 12 hours

One of the excellent day hikes in Glacier National Park is Gunsight Pass Trail. The trail begins from the Jackson Glacier Overlook. Look for the Gunsight Pass sign at the east end of the parking lot.

The trail is moderate to strenuous and takes you through an alpine forest, where you might spot cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, and black bears in their natural habitat. The views from the top provide breath-taking panoramas of the Rocky Mountains.

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