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This is your one-stop Glacier National Park hiking guide! Find the right trails to hike, know what to bring, and what permits you’ll need to enjoy Glacier National Park to the fullest.
1. Choose your Glacier National Park Hiking Trail
There are seven major sections to Montana’s Glacier National Park, and each offers a unique view of beautiful scenery and a glimpse into history:
Visiting Goat Haunt for hiking trails is the best way to explore Glacier National Park away from the rest of the park’s visitors. You can arrive in Goat Haunt via boat from Waterton Lakes National Park, or you can walk.
Don’t forget to bring your ID if you’re visiting Goat Haunt, especially by boat: only citizens of the United States and Canada are allowed to go further south into Glacier National Park for great hiking, as it is a limited point of entry into the country. International citizens are permitted to walk a quarter of a mile to the ranger station but they may not go further. The nearest facilities are available in the Waterton Townsite.
There are many recommended Glacier National Park hikes at Lake McDonald. The Sperry Chalet is a challenging 6.4 mile hike that rewards the hiker with a chalet at the end, and stunning views. Trout Lake takes you up 2,100 feet and gives you spectacular views of Lake McDonald and Heaven’s Peak. Rocky Point is perfect for children–only 1.1 miles long and has great wildlife viewing opportunities.
One of Glacier National Park’s most popular hiking areas, Logan Pass has it all: stunning mountain views, a visitor’s centre, and excellent Rocky Mountain hiking, of course! Try hiking around Avalanche Lake along the 500-foot elevation grain, or along the Trail of Cedars, which is very popular with families.
See what’s considered the heart of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Two of the most popular hiking trails exist in the Many Glacier region, including the Grinnell Glacier trail and the Iceberg Lake trail. Spot bighorn sheep and bears on your hiking trip–remember to take the proper precautions when dealing with wildlife in the Rockies.
The North Fork is known for its whitewater rafting opportunities, its fishing, and its spectacular hikes around gorgeous lakes. See Glacier National Park at 7,000 feet from the Numa Lookout. Try hiking six miles up to Quartz Lake and do some fishing while you’re at it. A great hike for families is the Hidden Meadow, which is only 1.2 miles long.
St. Mary Valley
Wildlife and plant life abound in the St. Mary Valley region of Glacier National Park. St. Mary Valley has a rich Native American history and when you’re done hiking around Red Eagle Lake (7.6 miles one way) or visiting Sunrift Gorge, visit the St. Mary Valley Visitor Center for some local drumming and dancing entertainment.
If you’re looking for a secluded hiking getaway in Glacier National Park, look no further than to the Two Medicine Region. See waterfalls, cliffs, and of course, extensive cave systems. Glimpse waterfalls and the stunning blue of Cobalt Lake on a 5.7 mile hike that will take you 1,400 ft up. For a family outing, try visiting the Running Eagle Falls. Who knows, you might even see some wildlife on your Glacier National Park hiking adventure!
2. Be Prepared! Pack Necessary Glacier National Park Hiking Supplies
Having the necessary supplies with you on your Glacier National Park hiking trip could save you a headache or worse if you get into an emergency situation. Depending on the type of year, your must-have hiking supplies will vary, but any hiker should bring along two quarts of water, a fleece jacket, a first aid kit, a rain jacket, and a cell phone. Hiking-grade boots will help you out on slippery slopes. If you need to take a snack or any kind of food with you, be sure to place it in bear-safe containers. Don’t bring pork or any other strong-smelling foods, as this will attract bears!
3. Obtain Glacier National Park Permits
Backcountry camping in Glacier National Park is quite popular. Hiking in Montana’s Glacier National Park and staying overnight on one of the hiking trails means you need a camping permit. Camping permits in Glacier National Park can cost between $10 to more than $20 a night. Reservations are not required for most Glacier National Park campgrounds.
For hiking and camping permits in Canada’s Glacier National Park vary as well, between $15 to $22 CAN in campgrounds such as Illecillewaet. For backcountry camping, a per-person fee of about $10 is charged. This does not include the fee to actually enter Glacier National Park.
4. Check Weather & Trail Status in Glacier National Park!
The best way to check trail conditions in Glacier National Park is on the Parks Canada website. Their trail conditions page is updated daily.
For Montana’s Glacier National Park hiking trail statuses, visit the U.S. National Park Service website. Depending on weather conditions, some trails may not be available.
5. Don’t forget your Glacier National Park Map!
Glacier National Park maps can be obtained from visitor centres throughout the park. You may also want to explore Glacier National Park from your own home by using a Google map.
Bonus Tip: Before you go on your Glacier National Park hiking adventure, don’t forget: eating fragrant meats or wearing fragrances can attract unwanted animal attentions! Also remember that Glacier National Park has a “leave no trace” policy to preserve the natural beauty of the park and the functionality of the ecosystem.
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