Situated in northern Montana and adjoining the Canadian border is Glacier National Park with over 700 miles of hiking and backpacking trails. It is estimated that of all the visitors that the park sees every year, roughly 50% of them will take a day hike or an overnight backpacking excursion. The following are the top picks for the best hiking and backpacking spots in Glacier National Park.
Cracker Lake (rated Easy to Moderate)– This 6-mile hike is fairly easy to do, but there are a few spots along the way that are slightly challenging, hence the dual difficulty rating. The trail is oftentimes traveled on horseback so remember that they always have the right-of-way whether you are hiking uphill or downhill. Your ending point is the lake and Cracker Lake Campground, considered one of the best camping facilities in Glacier National Park.
Grinnell Glacier (rated Moderate)– This is probably one of the most scenic hikes in the park and is 12 miles in length. You have a choice of making it a full day or an overnighter. The trail is maintained regularly and passes some beautiful lakes and along steep hillsides. There are spectacular panoramas of glaciers and waterfalls no matter what direction you are looking. There is an abundance of wildlife along the way including Bighorn Sheep, Marmots, and Mountain Goats.
Trail of the Cedars (rated Easy)– only 1.5 miles in length, this short loop hike takes you through a prolific cedar forest until you reach Avalanche Gorge. Additionally, the trail takes you through the forest over bridges and on wooden boardwalks. This is a great hike to take children on as there are numerous signs along the route that are very informative and explain the fauna and flora that you will encounter along the way.
Highline Trail (rated Moderate)–This trail is 11.4 miles long and even offers a shuttle from Going to the Sun Road back up to where your car is parked at Logan Pass. Be sure to pace yourself so that you can hop the shuttle back to your car. The best way to enjoy this hike is by making it a full day adventure. Be sure to take your camera as there are a number of photo opportunities along the way. Just don’t stop too often or you will miss the shuttle.
Hidden Lake (rated Easy to Moderate)– From Logan Pass, you have extremely easy access to this trail. It is only 3 to 4 miles in length, but it takes in some spectacular views along the way. Along the trail, you will most likely encounter Bighorn Sheep, Marmots, and Mountain Goats so come prepared with your camera. Although this is a relatively short trail, you can venture off to Floral Park where you can make this hike into an overnight backpacking venture.
On a closing note, the primary hiking season is July through mid-October when winter and spring snows no longer restrict access to the trails in the park.