Glacier has over 700 miles of trails in it’s beautiful, rugged terrain. If you’re visiting Glacier, you’re probably planning other activities, inside and outside of the park, and how to best use your short amount of time in the area. While we are sure there are some true butt-kicking hikes in your list (take a look at a few of our other blogs, like this one about backpacking or this one about hiking), we know there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. Here are our recommendations for short hikes, big reward in Glacier National Park
Hidden Lake Nature Trail & Overlook
We’ll start with one of the shorter hikes out there, Hidden Lake Overlook at 2.8 miles in total. If you’ve made it to this trailhead, you’ve already had the chance to see the beautiful and iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road. At the top of Logan Pass, head to the back of the visitor center to start this quick and easy hike along a paved path and boardwalk. When you reach the view, you’ll know. Hidden Lake will be seen below and surrounded by some of Glacier’s most famous peaks like Bearhat Mountain, Dragonstail, Clements and Reynolds. If this isn’t quite enough for you, there is the option of hiking all the way to the lake for an additional 1.2 miles, one way.
Lake Josephine is accessible via the Grinnel Glacier trailhead in Glacier’s amazing Many Glacier Valley. The hike begins at Swiftcurrent Lake and meanders through the woods, giving way to peek-a-boo views of both Swiftcurrent Lake and The Many Glacier Hotel. After about a mile of walking, make a left at the end of Swiftcurrent Lake and the start of Lake Josephine. Stop at the first path to the lake or explore the trail futher into the lush forest and choose one of many other paths that lead to the water. Whether you plan to stop at Lake Josephine and admire the views or keep climbing to Grinnell Glacier, it’s the perfect spot to take in Glacier’s rugged and awe-inspiring beauty.
Upper Two Medicine Lake
A quick 5-mile loop that explores the beauty of Two Medicine. Like many hikes on this list, it includes impressive peaks and views of Two Medicine Lake throughout the hike. If you didn’t know already, this is a guided day hike that we, Glacier Guides & Montana Raft, lead every single Monday. Love the idea of this hike but you’ve got young kids with you and know they won’t make it 5 miles? Don’t worry, we get it! We suggest taking a boat ride across the lake with Glacier Park Boat Company and hike about 3 miles back to the dock, visiting Twin Falls along the way. This way, you get to relax on a boat, enjoy the hike and see a waterfall – everybody wins!
(Going-to-the-Sun Road, West Side)
A great west side option, the Avalanche Lake hike has everything from creeks and cedar tree to non-stop views along the way. It’s one of Glacier’s more popular west side hikes, and for good reason. The short 5 mile out-and-back hike leads you to a pristine lake. In the distance, you’ll see rugged cliffs and cascading falls. If you’re driving Going-to-the-Sun Road to the east side of Glacier National Park, this is the perfect interlude to get those legs moving. Want something shorter? Trail of the Cedars is within the same trailhead and a great option for all ages.
St. Mary & Virginia Falls
(Glacier’s east side in St. Mary)
If you’ve got the time for a guided hike, Glacier Guides & Montana Raft heads to St. Mary and Virginia Falls every Wednesday beginning in early July. If not, and you’re just planning a quick hike with the family, these waterfalls are not to be missed. You’ll start your hike around St. Mary Lake, giving way to the awe-inspiring views of Glacier’s east side. This is a great hike for the entire family at only 6.5 miles and 775 feet of elevation gained. Plus, you get to experience not one, but two rushing falls. If it’s a hot day, you’ll get a nice cool down from the fall water’s mist.
Explore With A Guide
Have you looked into our day hikes options? We head out on a different hike every day throughout the summer, but we can also make them private. You can go with a guide on any hike mentioned above, or, we can explore other options, too! We’ve been doing eco-conscious guiding in Glacier National Park since 1983 and we’re your go-to Glacier experts. While you’re at it, take a look at our other rafting, hiking, fishing, biking and lodging adventures! There’s a lot of magic in this magnificent place and we want to show you everything.
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Where To Lay Your Head and Have A Snack
Download our Insider’s Guide to Glacier National Park for all the insider details on where to stay, eat, drink and play in and around Glacier National Park.