Best Hikes in Glacier National Park

An Insider and Flathead County resident of 22 years shares the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park to make the most of your vacation this summer.

The author hiking on a trail outside of Glacier National Park

22 years of hiking insider info:

When the peaks of Glacier National Park are visible from your house, you tend to spend a lot of time hiking in this glorious backyard. My family and friends have been hiking all throughout this park and all over Montana for over 22 years. Here is the list of my favorite 7 hikes- some are well known, others- not so much. And I’m throwing in my favorite hike outside of Glacier. 4WD is required to access the trailhead.

And remember a few basic reminders-

  • Take only photos and leave only footsteps- pack it in, pack it out
  • Stay on the trails
  • Stay at least 100 yards away from wildlife
  • Take bear spray (and bug spray hiking in Glacier Park)
  • Sometimes the best hikes are off season
The Author hiking along the Highlane trail in Glacier National park

The List:

  • 1. The Highline Trail– I prefer to hike from Logan Pass down to the Loop. It’s about a 12 mile hike. Full sun exposure. Total elevation gain of 1950 feet. Lots of steep exposures- especially the first quarter of a mile along the ledge. If you do not like heights, maybe take a minute to think about this hike. We like to stop and picnic on the overlooks about 3-4 miles out. Stop at Granite Park Chalet and use the pit toilet for a little break. (It is rustic) – Take at least 3 times as much water as your think you’ll need, sunscreen and a wide brim hat. There is no shade on most of the hike. No dogs are allowed. Expect to see mountain goats, marmots, chipmunks, big horn sheep, deer and the occasional grizzly. The last three miles are a slog. Park early at Logan Pass to catch the sunrise, hike down to the Loop, (thank the good Lord for that amazing bathroom) grab the shuttle at the Loop back up to your vehicle and zip back up to pick up your vehicle. Chances are you can grab a ride with someone who will want your parking spot at The Pass.
  • Pro- Tip– Gatorade, Gatorade, water, water and more water.
a view of the avalanche lake hike
  • 2. Avalanche Hike- Off Season – I love this trail, but I really love it off season. The photo above is from the trail in October. No one is around, you have the entire lake to yourself. If you go in the summer, take bug spray and water. It is a relatively easy 5.9 round trip hike with a 757 foot elevation gain. You are in the shade most of the hike. There is the beautiful creek along a large portion of the hike- do NOT be tempted to lean over and grab a photo from the ledges. Last year a young woman slipped and died on the rocks. There are toilets at the beginning of the hike and a very, very spider web filled pit toilet not too far from the lake.
  • Pro-tip– hike a bit down around the lake shore and picnic on the rocks away from the crowds. Take a thick blanket to sit on- those rocks are always cold and wet.
waterfalls along Piegan pass
  • 3. Apikuni Falls– A short little hike to a beautiful waterfall. Just over 700 foot elevation gain. The only thing that is a bit alarming about this hike, is the wind at the end. Kids will love it. The entire time I hiked this trail , I felt like a mountain lion was going to pounce on me, but we never even saw a chipmunk. East side of the Park on the way to Many Glacier. Only a dozen parking spots. Bear spray is always a good idea when hiking on the east Side.
a hiker along the Piegan Pass
  • 4. Piegan Pass- This is a whopper 9.2 mile hike that begins just off the Sun Road at the Siyeh Bend trailhead- just 2.2 miles east of Logan Pass. Hike up along the creek and have a picnic on the rocks, then get ready to do a bit on elevation gain- about 1850 feet total. You will hike through forests, alpine groves and then out into a big beautiful meadow filled with Glacier Lilies early in the season. The final stretch is a jaw dropping thin ledge to the Jackson Overlook. Don’t like heights- take poles or skip the last section.
two kids at Cracker lake wearing sweatshirts.
  • 5. Cracker Lake- 12. 6 miles with a 1400 foot elevation gain.
  • Honestly, this is best done on Horseback because the first 2 miles, you will be walking in the same trail as the horses coming from the Many Glacier Lodge and there is a lot of horse manure along the trail. After about 5 miles in, you will open up to incredible vistas in the canyon making the forest section worth the slog. You will cross over footbridges along creeks, see waterfalls and a few false summits before you get to the lake. Go with a crowd of people because you are in grizzly bear country and berries are thick along this trail in summer.
  • Pro- tip– take bear spray, make noise, bug spray and tons of water.
  • a bear having a peak of us from the Hidden lake trail
  • Glacier lilies in full bloom
  • mossy logs

Keep scrolling to see more of the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park.

  • 6. Hidden Lake- But let’s go all the way down to the lake.
  • Hidden Lake is one of those hikes that everyone does, but ( insider secret) hardly anyone hikes down to the lake. Yes- it’s steep- 5.4 miles plus a 1325 foot elevation gain, but just go slow, take in the views. You will be rewarded with a hike with few tourists and not many folks down at the lake. There are great spots for a picnic and fishing down at Hidden Lake, a decent pit toilet and wildlife- expect to see deer, marmots, chipmunks, Big Horn sheep and mountain goats- and perhaps grizzly. Pro-Tip- take bug spray and a big hat. Lots of sun exposure. (photo above- a small pond before you arrive at the Hidden Lake Overlook)

Photo above- a view of St. Mary’s Lake 1 year after the 2015 fire. Below- a video of Virginia Falls taken in 2023.

  • 7. Virginia Falls– 3.6 miles round trip. 525 foot elevation gain. This is one of the easiest hikes in the park with a BIG pay off. The hike has changed dramatically since the fires along St Mary’s lake in 2015. The trail begins a bit dusty, but then you begin to climb to a beautiful creek lined trail. Some hikers get tricked and stop on the bridge, but keep going all the way to the Falls.- It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the park and even novice hikers can make the entire climb.
a birch line trail on a hike in Glacier National Park

Read more about the best places to dine, picnic and places to visit in my other Glacier Park Posts:

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Favorite Hike Outside Glacier Park-

  • Without a doubt the hike to Mt Aeneas in the Jewel Basin is my favorite hike outside of the Park. It is a 6 miles hike with a 1781 elevation gain. Picnic lake is one of my favorite places to relax along the trail. Dogs are allowed, but must be leashed. This is grizzly country- so if you take your dog, be prepared. Access the trail head from Camp Misery. Incredible vistas of the entire valley.
a white mountain goat along the trail ridge in Montana

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2 Comments

  1. Absolutely breathtaking! What a beautiful hike.

    1. Thank you Carolyn- I just love Glacier Park- there is honestly, not a bad hike anywhere in Glacier.