Taking you step by step, you’ll know each bend of the trail and how to prepare for your adventure. If you're looking to go home with some great photographs you may want to consider starting your hike around daybreak in order to reach the lake before the sun rises above the mountains to the east, or, wait until later in the afternoon when the sun is behind you. Fish Creek Bike Path 1.2 mi (1.9 km) Elevation gain: 25 ft (7.6 m) Trailhead: Turn right 0.25 miles north of the Lower McDonald Creek Bridge on the Camas Road. Trailhead: Avalanche Picnic Area. There are two shuttles in Glacier National Park, one starting from St. Mary Visitor Center and the other from Apgar Visitor Center. The first section of the hike enjoys fine views of Avalanche Creek. You can continue the hike for 0.7 miles around to the other end of the lake. Holland Falls National Recreation Trail. Best Hiking Poles: Top 5 + How to Choose the Right Ones. For those lucky enough to be hiking the Trail of Cedars in Glacier Park, another visual treat, Avalanche Lake, is just off the trail and easily accessed within a half hour or so. Intro. It’s not a smooth trail and it does have a slow grade. There’s also a picnic area where you can relax before heading out on your hike. This is one reason why bringing bear spray is essential. The trail is 4.6 miles round trip and offers many nice views of the stream and surrounding mountains. This trail is near the Avalanche campground area which is located in one of the most popular sections of Glacier National Park west of the Continental Divide. The start of the trail is also located about five miles from the McDonald Lodge if you’re coming from the east. The hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park begins from the Trail of the Cedars Trailhead, located 5.5 miles east of the Lake McDonald Lodge. This is also where you’ll find the shuttle that drops passengers off from Apgar Visitor Center. Two popular day hikes, Trail of the Cedars, and Avalanche Lake, afford visitors spectacular scenery and glimpses of birds and wildlife that inhabit the area. Photos. From Avalanche Campground, you will take the Trail of the Cedars to its junction with Avalanche Trail, then continue two miles along Avalanche Creek to the lake. Glacier National Park--Avalanche Gorge and Lake 2008. The mountain dominating the view towards the south is 7886-foot Little Matterhorn. Trailhead: In the Avalanche Campground area, hike the Trail of the Cedars until the Avalanche Lake Trail takes off approximately halfway through. Glacier National Park, covering more than a million acres near the Canadian border, is mainly accessed by the Going-To-The-Sun Road and a half dozen shorter perimeter roads. At the very least, be sure to have at least 2 liters of water per person and a few snacks. Check ahead of time to see the most recent road status. US National Parks Bucket List (All 62 Parks By State), 25 Best Things to do in Whitefish, Montana, 6 Reasons to Stay at the Grouse Mountain Lodge When You Visit GNP, Best Hikes in the USA: 15 Stunning Trails You Cannot Miss, St George, Utah Guide (What to Do, See & Eat), 15 Amazing Hikes in Grand Teton National Park That You Cannot Miss, Tips for Hiking the Avalanche Lake Trail in GNP, 15 Glacier National Park Hikes For All Skill Levels, Ultimate Crystal Coast NC Itinerary (What to Do & See). It’s not unheard of to have these beasts of the wild wander up curiously to hikers, especially if visitors have food in their packs. ... Highline Trail - Grinnell Glacier Overlook/ 0.8 mi. You simply follow the well beaten trail that weaves through the forest before it eventually leads you to the shores of the lake. Your entire hike taking you to Avalanche Lake will continue to showcase all the beauty of the woods. Get a discount with AirBNB and learn how to maximize your savings with up to $100 in discounts.PROTECT YOUR TRIPDon’t forget your travel insurance! One of the best hikes you can take in Glacier National Park to immerse yourself in the wilderness of Montana is the Avalanche Lake Trail. Along the way, about 1.5-miles into the hike, there are … If you look to the left after you cross the bridge and begin climbing, you’ll see where the gorge starts to form and how it develops from there. We’ve visited nearly 100 countries on all 7 continents. We left at 6:15 am and arrived in the Avalanche Parking lot at 7:20 am and took the last spot. Here, travelers can either pitch their tent or park their RV to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the park overnight. When walking through areas where the brush is thick near the trail, be sure to talk with your friends or make noise so that any animals, namely bears, that may be near the trail will not be startled by your presence and can move away before you reach them. Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide), 40 Hiking Essentials That Anyone Visiting Glacier National Park Should Carry. For perhaps a little more solitude, as well as some varying perspectives of the surrounding mountains, hikers can continue on the trail as it follows along the western shoreline to the head of the lake. At almost 5 miles, it is definitely one of the most popular hikes in the park, and there is a good reason. Difficulty: Moderate. Be prepared for inclement weather and snow-covered, icy roads. In mid-December the vehicle closure is moved to Lake McDonald Lodge for the remainder of the winter. Here you'll have an up-close view of the amazing power of glacially melted water as it rushes through the narrow gorge. Projected Initial Clearing: Winter Status 10/19/2020 per 256 . While Avalanche Lake sits in the low-lying valley of the park, a hike to Hidden … If you’re short on time or think you won’t be able to complete the full hike, the Trail of Cedars is a great way to get out of the car and enjoy the great outdoors without an all-day commitment. A short distance away is a large beach area that provides plenty of space to soak-in the magnificent scenery. Cannon. While exploring the basin in June of 1895, Sperry saw and heard multiple avalanches roaring down the surrounding mountains, and agreed with his exploring party "that Avalanche Basin would be a most appropriate name for the place". Much of the old growth forest habitat in Glacier National Park resides along Lake McDonald and Avalanche Creek, on the way to the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Logan Pass—our world’s version of Middle Earth’s dark and damp Lothlórien, as compared to the airy Rivendell of … Details . No worries, we have put together a guide highlighting the Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park. The breathtaking centuries-old trees don’t stop at the Trail of Cedars. In between Sperry's two visits that summer, an unnamed local resident blazed a path to Avalanche Lake, making it, in all likelihood, the first trail to be constructed for tourists in the Glacier Park area. The first steps of your journey towards Avalanche Lake will take you through a different trail entirely. Whether you are bringing your kids along or not, the Avalanche Trail hike provides scenic views, little elevation gain, and a varied hiking experience. Park at the Avalanche Picnic area or near the Trail of Cedars trailhead . What should I bring on the hike to Avalanche Lake? We will answer all your questions in this one-stop guide! This boardwalk takes you through the woods and is only 1 mile long round trip. No matter how you get here, this is the start for the Avalanche Lake Trail. Overview Avalanche Lake has a reputation for being one of Glacier National Park's 'must-do' short hikes. To get to the trailhead, take the shuttle from Apgar. On a return trip later that summer Sperry would discover the glacier that now bears his name. During the peak summer season, you may find it difficult to find a place to park. But where can you find out if this hike is right for you and how to prepare for your trip down the Avalanche Lake Trail? The lake sits at the base of 8694-foot Bearhat Mountain, which rises almost 4800 feet above the lake towards the northeast. Read Is Travel Insurance Worth It? Avalanche Lake. *Please note that times are approximate! It starts immediately up a short incline over large granite boulders and parallels Avalanche Creek, giving you some nice views. What we heard was the roaring Avalanche Creek (apparently they use the term "creek" very differently in Montana. Avalanche Gorge from Trail of Cedars Some posts might be sponsored to support this blog. The shuttles start running at 7:00 am, and the last shuttle leaves at Avalanche Creek at 4:09 pm. I can’t tell you how many comments on Instagram I’ve seen from people that see a photo like ours above and admit they missed it. The Avalanche Lake trail has been known to close due to bears. One of the only concerns travelers have when hiking the Avalanche Lake Trail is bears. Glacier National Park, near West Glacier in Glacier Natl Park, MT. You should also check out our tips for finding cheap accommodation. Disclosure: In accordance with FTC guidelines, we disclose that we may be compensated if consumers choose to utilize links located throughout the content on this site. Don’t worry though, this glacier stream roars through the forest leading to the banks of the lake where you’ll see it again. If you look carefully, you can even see the waterfalls trickling down from the mountainside feeding into the lake. 7:30am - 8:30am: Drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Trail of the Cedars. While the 4.5 miles may be too much for elderly hikers, most people will be able to trudge their way along the path and enjoy all the beauty the trail has to offer. You can learn more about us here. Hats and sunscreen are both essential to avoid getting sunburnt. Avalanche Lake Trail is one of the best day hikes in Glacier National Park. An alternative option is taking the shuttle to Avalanche Creek. Trails Then wind upwards through the forest for 2 miles to Avalanche lake. There seemed to be quite a number of people on this trail. The campground is situated within old growth cedar and hemlock trees, keeping the area cool during the summer months. So pack your bags and lace up your boots; your journey to Montana starts here! But even in the peak season, the lake is large enough to avoid people. Avalanche Lake Trail: The Best Hike in West Glacier When we visited Glacier National Park in early July, we had no clue the Going-to-the-Sun Road would still be closed to vehicular traffic due to winter snowfalls. Avalanche Creek Gorge This is a very popular Glacier National Park hiking trail, so you won’t be hiking alone. The boardwalk along this portion of the loop encourages visitors to take their time as they pass through habitat more normally found on the Pacific Coast. With ice and snow crowning the top of mountain peaks year-round, the winter months can be quite brutal. At the Trail of Cedars/ Avalanche Creek Trailhead, you’ll find a large parking lot, perfect for pulling over and exploring the trail before you head back out onto the scenic drive. Lucky for you, the Avalanche Lake Trail is easily accessible by all visitors, no matter how old (or young) you may be. 2 miles About half an hour 500 feet Easy The most popular time of year to visit the park and hike to Avalanche Lake is from June to September. Comment document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "ad2fc39c7522d4cbe7c660e842ce79f0" );document.getElementById("g97c0059f5").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); We are David & Lina Stock, a married couple from NW Wisconsin who have been traveling together since 2001. Trail Length: 4.5 miles round trip (out and back) Elevation Gain: 730 feet. Although the western segment of the loop is slightly shorter, the eastern side is far more scenic. At 2.3 miles hikers will finally reach the foot of Avalanche Lake. The Trail of the Cedars, a wheelchair accessible trail, is a loop hike that begins and ends along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. At the crowded and well-marked trailhead, begin immediately heading uphill alongside the sounds of glacial runoff. The trail itself is one of the first trails to open in the park as well, as it's low elevation … Although no longer in direct contact, the trail continues to loosely follow the creek up to the lake. If you’ve ever been to Banff National Park in Canada, this gorge looks just like a mini Johnstone Canyon! With smaller crowds and cooler weather, you’ll be able to have some personal time with Mother Nature without having to worry about the tour groups. Above the gorge, the trail follows Avalanche Creek for about a mile and then begins to work away from the creek towards the lake. It’s also the best place to enjoy the creek before you enter the gorge and begin heading up to the lake through the cedar forest. Thanks to its incredible scenery and close proximity to the West Glacier entrance, it's also one of the park's most popular hikes. The lake is rimmed with steep cliffs on three sides with numerous cascading waterfalls. 7:00 am- 7:15 am: After we make our introductions, we will have an overview of the day’s itinerary followed by a brief training in bear safety procedures, Leave No Trace Ethics, and trail etiquette. The Trail of the Cedars, a wheelchair accessible trail, is a loop hike that begins and ends along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The trail is only one mile long and takes under 30 minutes to complete. The spur to Avalanche Lake is at the midpoint of the Trail of Cedars loop, just after you cross the bridge spanning Avalanche Creek (if you are coming from the east, as we did). Avalanche Creek runs alongside the Trail of the Cedars. Although not the most strenuous trail in Glacier National Park, you’ll probably want to do some research before you start exploring Avalanche Lake. If you are unfamiliar with Glacier National Park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is the main artery of the park. Located on the western side of Glacier National Park, the trailhead to Avalanche Lake is easily accessible while driving on the Going to the Sun Road. Just past this point is the Avalanche Lake Trail junction. My new book on the history of hiking has much more information about trail development in Glacier, as well as other anecdotal stories from the early years of the park. After leaving the gorge, the trail is fairly straight forward. Montana is known for being cold, so make sure you’re wearing long sleeves and a jacket just in case it starts getting chilly. After crossing the bridge and heading into the forest, a lot of people just put their heads down and completely miss this stunning gorge! @ document.write(new Date().getFullYear()); HikinginGlacier.com. Hikers on the eastern portion of the loop travel along a raised boardwalk as they pass through a forest of ancient western hemlocks and red cedars. Maps. Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide). In the summer, Avalanche Lake is a staple hike along Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. In less than a tenth-of-a-mile you'll arrive at the banks of Avalanche Creek. As you proceed up the rise look towards your right and you'll notice a very dense forest. The contrast of the white water and the dark red rocks is quite striking. If you’re still wanting to see the breathtaking views without so many other tourists, be sure to set off early or travel to Glacier National Park outside of summer. Divergent Travelers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. With the ice and slush gone, you can explore the park without having to worry about the weather. Cars pack tightly in this small lot between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm, so either go early or go very late. Additionally, the trail c Plant enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse species of flora. Check out 40 Hiking Essentials That Anyone Visiting Glacier National Park Should Carry. The hike to Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park, and for a good reason. The Trail of Cedars is a boardwalk loop that takes visitors through 100ft tall trees with a history stretching back nearly 500 years. Length: 3.4-mile … Avalanche Lake Trail is a half-day hike starting with the Trail of the Cedars then along the Avalanche Creek gorge. Dazzling hikers with its view of Bearhat Mountain, this is the spot where you’ll want to be sure to have your cameras ready. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open from West Glacier to Avalanche Creek, weather permitting, through mid-December. A six-mile out-and-back trail along a cascading creek. Avalanche Lake is perhaps the most heavily used backcountry lake in Glacier National Park. The campground is situated within trees keeping the area cool during summer months. Right next to the parking lot, you’ll also find the Avalanche Creek Picnic and Campgrounds. No matter what trail you are taking on in Glacier National Park you should have a good pair of hiking poles. TRY OUT AIRBNB Unlike the Avalanche Trail, the Trail of Cedars is wheelchair accessible and is an alternative for hikers unable to continue to the lake. The only drawback will be the massive crowds. At roughly 1.1 miles the trail departs from Avalanche Creek. Trailhead . Avalanche Campground in located in one of the most popular sections of Glacier National Park west of the Continental Divide. The hike to Avalanche Lake might be the best "first hike" in Glacier National Park. The gorge actually runs for quite a ways before peeling off into the thick woods. / 5.8 mi. The connection for the Avalanche Lake trail is a short distance from the bridge. Please read this Disclaimer / Privacy Policy Due to the high elevation, you’ll probably also need to bring sun protection. Use Glacier's free shuttle service at this campground … Trail Description: The hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park begins from the Trail of the Cedars Trailhead, located 5.5 miles east of the Lake McDonald Lodge. Highlighting much of the beauty of the park, you’ll be exploring the Trail of Cedars, Avalanche Creek, and finally, be treated to stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Although this trail is considered moderate, it’s still important to know that the hike will take about half the day to complete. With its bubbling streams, forests teeming with wildlife, and sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, this is an adventure you won’t want to miss. Avalanche Gorge is a small gorge cut by Avalanche Creek as it flows from Avalanche Lake. From the car or shuttle bus stop, stroll along the majestic Trail of the Cedars or warm up the legs with a short climb aside the pounding waters and carved walls of Avalanche Gorge. Gathering my gear I hoped to see other hikers on the trail. If you find yourself visiting Avalanche Lake during any time other than summer, you may want to bundle up. You'll also find several make-shift benches to rest on as well. Fish Lake 2.7 mi (4.3 km) Elevation gain: 1,000 ft (305 m) Trailhead: Sperry Trailhead. There are many hikes in Glacier National Park, such as the Highline Trail, which is far out of the experience level of your average traveler. Want to know about visiting Glacier National Park during a certain time of the year? During the summer months, expect some crowds on the beach, and tourists wandering along the edge of the water. You’ll feel some burn but overall it’s an easy trail. COVID-19 Park and Trail Closures The hike to Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park, and for a good reason. The Avalanche Lake Trail is an out and back trail that stretches a total of 4.5 miles. Located along the Going to the Sun Road, this is a popular stop for tourists traveling along the scenic drive to take in all the sights of Glacier National Park. When we visited Glacier NP, only parts of the park was open due to COVID. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/avalanche-creek-trail Location: 77.1 miles northeast of Missoula. Your adventure to Avalanche Lake starts in the humble parking lot to the Trail of Cedars. If you look closely at the cliffs and mountains that surround the lake you'll notice several long waterfalls plunging hundreds of feet as they make their way towards the shore. Length: 4.6 miles. Despite the snowstorms, sections of the Going to the Sun Road may still be open, but there’s no guarantee. From there wind upwards through the forest for 2 miles to Avalanche lake. Avalanche Lake is a popular day hike in Glacier National Park, becuase of its easy-to-reach location, gradual elevation gain, and beautiful end destination! before using any information on this site. As you hike along the boardwalk of the Trail of Cedars, you’ll eventually come across a bridge built over a bubbling creek; this is the trailhead to Avalanche Lake. The trail begins at a wheelchair accessible trail called the Trail of Cedars and starts 16 miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park along Going-To-The-Sun Road. Glacier National Park is a place where travelers can explore snow-capped mountains and alpine meadows. Situated on the eastern edge of the maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest, the Lake McDonald Valley also marks the extreme eastern limits for these trees. An easy hike up the two-mile long Avalanche Lake Trail provides the only access to the lake. Copyright Avalanche Creek Campground, West Glacier: See traveler reviews, candid photos, and great deals for Avalanche Creek Campground, ranked #14 of 14 specialty lodging in West Glacier … Protect your investment and yourself. Avalanche Lake Trail. Although the western segment of the loop is slightly shorter, the eastern side is far more scenic. Avalanche Lake Trail Avalanche Campground - Foot of Avalanche Lake/ 2.0 mi. Look closely and you'll also notice the lush green of ferns and mosses growing along the forest floor. Along the Avalanche Lake Trail, there’s only an elevation gain of about 600 feet. Required fields are marked *. Highlighting much of the beauty of the park, you’ll be exploring the Trail of Cedars, Avalanche Creek, and finally, be treated to stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. About half way along the Trail of the Cedars loop, we reached the fork that would take us to Avalanche Lake. The humidity in this valley allows the cedars to grow to heights of 100 feet, and diameters of 4 to 7 feet. Take your time to peek over the ledge and admire the colors of moss, trees and glacial water that squeezes between the rocks. Ready to fly? "that Avalanche Basin would be a most appropriate name for the place". After turning left onto the Avalanche Lake Trail hikers will immediately encounter a short, but steep climb. Roughly one-half mile from the trailhead hikers will reach a footbridge that spans Avalanche Creek and provides a commanding view of the lower Avalanche Gorge, one of the highlights along this stretch of the trail. All rights reserved. You should also note that this is an extremely popular area, which means parking can be an issue during the middle of the day, especially during peak tourist season. At Avalanche Lake you get By Lina Stock on December 22, 2020 • Last updated December 23, 2020 • Leave a CommentThis post may contain affiliate links. TRAVEL GEAR & PACKING Your email address will not be published. This trail will have plenty of exposed roots and rocks along it, so be sure to watch for that.