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Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park

West Glacier, Montana



4.5 miles

Elevation Gain

730 ft

Route Type



Added by Jess Howard

A gradual hike up to a breathtaking glacier lake nestled amongst the gargantuan mountains of Glacier National Park. Settle your soul at the base of the lake or take a stroll around the shore to submerge yourself in the awe inspiring views. You might even spot a few mountain goat along the cliff sides!

Starting at the Trail of the Cedars trail-head take either side of the loop alongside the creek and larger than life cedars. From what I hear this area can be a bit congested in the summer so be sure to start earlier in the day if you want to find a parking spot. We hiked this trail in the fall and crowd was very quiet and pleasant. From what I recall there was only one other car in the small lot when we started our hike around 10 a.m in mid October.

The first point of interest is located just after you split off the wooded/handicapped accessible walkway and onto the Avalanche Lake trail, it's one you wont want to miss! Just to the left of the trail you can see the creek flowing through a gorge of red rock, carved smooth by glacier run off. There are a few faint trails that lead to places where you can overlook the turquoise tinted water making it's way down to the river. From this point on the trail slowly ascends through the tall cedars. It's not a strenuous hike by any means. We even saw a few families with children pass us on our way back! The first bit of the hike is well shaded as you are making your way up the canyon and towards the bowl where the lake sits. And around the last mile/mile and half the trees start to break, showing glimpses of open meadow and cliff faces as you narrow into the mountains. Keep your eyes out for wildlife! We saw a handful of mountain goats scaling the side of the cliffs to our left on the way up. They're bright white coats are easy to spot against the dark rock once all the snow is melted! This area is one that bears frequent, as are many places in Glacier National Park, so be sure carry bear spray/make noise as you hike. Once the trail starts to level out through the trees you'll know you're almost there. The last bit of the hike is even a bit downhill.

Soon enough the trees start to open up revealing the exquisite blue/green water that reflects the massive Montana mountains behind it. There are a few benches alongside the lake nestled in the trees and near the water's edge. There is even a bathroom! The trail continues around to the very backside of the lake where you can see runoff from the suns rays melting the winter snow. They cascade down the jagged cliffs creating small waterfalls that fill Avalanche Lake. You can't help but feel small in a place so grand as this.

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