• Activities:

    Stand Up Paddle, Kayaking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

This paddle offers lots of great rock bars and banks to stop and fish, sunbathe, or just sit and take in the beauty.

Begin your trip by dropping your car (or bike) at Quarter Circle Bridge just inside Glacier Park. After dropping your shuttle vehicle, park in the Apgar Campground parking lot and walk your water craft to the shore of Lake McDonald. Paddling North, you will quickly find the outlet of scenic Lake McDonald. Don't exit the lake without snapping a few photos.

After leaving the lake, the creek is wide and mostly flat, and few small ripples can dump and unsuspecting paddler, but it's really pretty mild. The duration of the float depends on water level, but usually takes between 1-2 hours.

Your take out will be the Quarter Circle Bridge where the creek runs into the Middle Fork of the Flathead River (trip can be extended by 2 hours all the way to Blankenship Bridge if desired).

Stop by the Packer's Roost or the Glacier Distillery to wet your whistle after your trip, and swing by the Glacier Grille for some tasty grub.

Pack List

  • Water vessel: paddle board, kayak, canoe
  • Personal Flotation Device (required on board)
  • Dry bag
  • Plenty of food and snacks
  • Water filter
  • Camping gear if staying over night
  • Camera
  • Fishing pole (fishing in National Park is free)
  • Bear spray (frequently see bears along the river)
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Any suggestions on where to rent kayaks and PFDs in the park?

8 months ago
8 months ago

Hello! Just looking on some information about maybe taking a tube down the river. Is the water flow fast enough? Is the water too cold for an August trip? Any information would be helpful!! Thanks!!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

McDonald Creek is as about as pretty as it gets for a Montana creek with the addition of freezing cold water. The fishing is usually great from July-September.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We paddled from the lake to quarter circle bridge. It took less than an hour, but was BEAUTIFUL! The water was calm and was suitable for any level of paddler.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Noah Couser Explorer

I'm a professional photographer living and working in Whitefish, Montana. I travel as much as I can with my beautiful wife Megan, and am always scheming a new adventure, or a new way to do an old trip. My passion is the outdoors, and getting people excited about recreating outside. By day, I teach PE and health at the local middle school, by night, I fight crime in a spandex jumpsuit... not really, but I do enjoy taking lots of pictures and working for cool outdoor companies when not at school throwing dodge balls at 8th graders.

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