Exploring Glacier National Park's Secluded Gem, Many Glacier

Tucked away on the east side of Glacier National Park is this small gem that houses some of the most stunning hiking in the park.

By: Sonja Saxe
July 25, 2016

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The secludedness of Many Glacier makes it a destination that stands alone, nestled far from the congested thoroughfare of Going-to-the-Sun road and this pocket of land offers some of the most scenic hikes in the park. The location also has multiple lodging options so you don't have to venture far to reach your trailhead. In fact, every hike on this list is within walking distance from the Many Glacier Hotel, Many Glacier Campground, and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn so no matter where you choose to stay in this area you will be at the perfect launching point for these hikes. 

1. Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake is unlike any alpine lake I have ever seen before. Sitting in the shadows of Mt. Wilbur and Iceberg Peak this lake receives little sunlight so ice and snow remain on it year-round creating a stunning sight and thankfully it is an easy spot to reach! The hike to Iceberg Lake begins at the trailhead behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The trail is 9.7 miles round-trip but the elevation gain is gradual so the hike feels more like a nice walk through the woods and meadows. Along the open portions of the hike you will have stunning views in all directions: in front of you will lie the Ptarmigan Wall, Mt. Wilbur, and Iceberg Peak towering over your destination of Iceberg Lake, and behind you will be a valley sweeping back towards Many Glacier. You will also pass the 8,851' Mount Grinnell on the way and the rushing Ptarmigan Falls. 

This is a popular destination so I would recommend hitting the trail early if you want a piece of the shoreline to yourself. Also, budget extra time to explore the entirety of the area. There are many unique spots along the whole lakeshore that warrant a visit!

2. Cracker Lake

Cracker Lake is an impossibly blue glacial lake situated under looming 4,000' mountains. The trailhead is located at the south end of the parking lot behind Many Glacier Hotel and has ample parking so securing a spot shouldn't be a problem. While this 12.2 mile round-trip hike can be done as a day-hike I think it's more aptly done as an overnight trip simply because the campsite is unbeatable. The backcountry campground sits on a knoll, elevated above the lake and offers just three coveted, picture-perfect campsites. The limited number of campsites means that by late afternoon you will be sharing the view with few others, making the experience that much sweeter. Be on the lookout for moose, bears, and mountain goats. This is the perfect place to spot wildlife! 

3. Grinnell Glacier

No trip to Glacier National Park is complete without visiting one of the last 25 quickly disappearing glaciers in the park and the hike to Grinnell Glacier not only takes you to the foot of a glacier but also through some of the most scenic landscapes. On this 11.4 mile round-trip hike you will have commanding views of three beautiful lakes: Swiftcurrent, Josephine, and Grinnell. When you think the views can't get better the trail will set you at the shores of Upper Grinnell Lake that sits right below the famous Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier. The hike can be shortened three miles by taking the tour boat from the dock behind Many Glacier Hotel but I recommend doing the hike in its entirety from the trailhead. Taking the tour boat doesn't save that much time and the portion of hiking it saves you is flat and the views of Josephine Lake on this section are quite scenic. 

Special note: the Many Glacier area is prime bear habitat so it is important that you carry bear spray (and know how to use it), make noise, and travel in groups on any hike in this area. 


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.