Best Trails in Glacier National Park: What you need to know

Cats love visiting Glacier National Park. The variety of nature coupled with ample opportunity for adventure is just two of the reasons this park is a slow traveling cat’s heaven. In order to really appreciate all this park has to offer, however, you must get out and explore on your paws. It’s time to get those 4 legs moving on the best trails in Glacier National Park!

With over 700 miles of trails, there is no shortage of nature to explore. So, where is a cat to start? Glad you asked! We’ve indexed the best trails in Glacier National Park by their level of difficulty. Let’s take a hike!

Let’s start easy!

Best Trails Glacier National Park - Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake

To start with, we will focus on the most accessible trails in the park. Do not let the term “easy” mislead you though. These hikes provide stunning views and will leave you feeling closer to the Rockies than you ever imagined. These trails feature smooth terrain and are family-friendly.

Running Eagle Falls Trail

One of two wheelchair-accessible hikes in the park, this is a great trail to get into nature without too much preparation. Running .6 miles, round trip, it normally takes around 15 minutes to complete this trail. The best part of this trail is a stunning waterfall just .3 miles from the parking lot! 

Trail of the Cedars

Here you’ll find the other wheelchair-accessible hike in the park. Coming in at just under one mile, this trail runs through a beautiful forest, crossing over one of the park’s famous glacier-fed streams. This is a great representation of the beautiful flora of Glacier National Park. 

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail

If you are looking for something more substantial but have limited time (or energy), you should check out the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail. This trail runs 2.3 miles and takes about an hour to complete. As a bonus, the first quarter mile is also wheelchair accessible. Just make sure to follow the path for “Swiftcurrent Nature Trail”. The trail to “Swiftcurrent Pass” is closer to 7 miles in length with a 2000 ft elevation gain!

Moderate difficulty

Our next set of recommendations will take you a little deeper into nature and provide more of a challenge for your feet and legs. These trails take roughly half a day to complete and may be challenging for visitors with a more sedentary way of life. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with taking on a bit of a challenge. Just pack plenty of water and snacks, pace yourself, and don’t hesitate to turn back if you need to. 

Avalanche Lake

Due to its relatively easy terrain and stunning views of Avalanche Lake, this is one of the more popular hikes in the park. You can expect this 4.5-mile trail to take about 3 hours to complete. You’ll start on the Trail of the Cedars and then meander up a slow incline until you hit one of the most beautiful lakes in the park. Make sure to at least dip your finger in the freezing cold glacial melt before making your trek back down to the start. 

Hidden Lake Nature Trail & Overlook

Best Trails Glacier National Park - Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald

Located by Logan’s Pass, this trail is in one of the higher-elevation areas of the park. Not only will you find stunning mountain views, but you’ll also experience Hidden Lake, one of the park’s most beloved lakes. As a bonus, this trail is flexible in length. You’ll start out on the Hidden Lake Nature Trail from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. After hiking 1.4 miles, you’ll arrive at a beautiful overlook of the lake. From here, you’ll have the option of hiking an additional 1.2 miles to see the lake up close. The entire route should take around 4 hours to complete. 

Grinnell Lake

While this trail is the longest on this list, it still ranks as moderately difficult due to almost no change in elevation. The flat path will take you past three of the park’s stunning lakes. The entire round trip runs 6.8 miles, however, if you are looking for a shorter hike, you can always just turn around. This path in particular is filled with views of multiple lakes from the onset. You will not miss out by turning back early. You can expect the entire trail to take roughly 4 hours to complete.

Onto the hard ones

There is no shortage of difficult trails at Glacier! As a matter of fact, some of the best trails in Glacier National Park would be considered difficult by even some of the most seasoned hikers. These are not for the faint of heart, but the reward is well worth the effort. You can expect these trails to take roughly a full day to complete. 

Iceberg Lake Trail

Waterfall in Glacier National Park
Waterfall in Glacier National Park

Located in the Many Glacier region of the park, Iceberg Lake is a difficult but popular hike. Roundtrip, the hike is 9.6 miles and has an elevation gain of 1200 feet. The route mostly meanders through the mountain wilderness, however, you will pass Ptarmigan Falls on the way. At the end of the path, you’ll find the secluded and stunningly beautiful Iceberg Lake. 

Highline Trail

This trail is one of the most popular in the park. It follows the Continental Divide, providing picturesque views at almost every step of the way. The roundtrip mileage is 11.8 and you’ll gain roughly 1950 feet in elevation. If you are looking to fully experience the Continental Divide, this is your best bet. 

Mount Brown Lookout

If you are looking to push your limits, Mount Brown Lookout is a steep climb, with a big reward. Roundtrip, this hike runs 10.4 miles and boasts an elevation gain of 4,325 ft. This is a very steep trail and will challenge any fit hiker. So why do it? A bird’s eye view of the park’s largest lake, Lake McDonald at the very top! Also, do it for the bragging rights. 

Gunsight Pass Trailhead

And finally, no list of difficult trails in Glacier National Park is complete without Gunsight Pass! Starting at Jackson Glacier Overlook and ending at Lake McDonald Lodge, this hike is 18.8 miles (one way) and has 3727 feet of elevation gain. Both ends of the trail can be accessed by the park’s shuttle system, so if you decide to drive, you can always catch a ride back to your car. Given the distance and elevation gain, only experienced, confident hikers should attempt to complete this trail in one day. This is also a great option for those who enjoy backpacking and are able to acquire an overnight camping permit.

Conclusion on the best trails in Glacier National Park

With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier National Park is a hiker’s paradise. If you are new to hiking, start out with the easy trails and see how you feel. One of the great things about this park is that you do not have to exert too much physical effort to feel completely surrounded by nature. 

For those travelers that like to push their limits, however, there is maybe no greater place in the US to work up a sweat. There is something about that cool mountain air that will give you that extra motivation to get to the top of some extremely beautiful mountain tops. 

No matter what kind of hiking experience you are looking for. The best trails in Glacier National Park will leave you feeling inspired and exhilarated.

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