An early addition to the National Park Service (park #10), Glacier National Park in Montana turned 100 on May 11, 2010. The park is immense, with 1 million acres (4,047 km2), 300 lakes and a reach of 1,584 square miles (4,103 km2). The park is considered the centerpiece of a vast region of protected land that includes some 16,000 square miles (41,440 km2). The park features some 700 miles of hiking trails and supports all manner of outdoor activities, such as biking, boating, fishing, and horseback riding. There are 13 campgrounds that allow for roughly 1000 campsites. Other accommodation options include hotels, inns, lodges and motels. Part of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, this park has over 50 remaining glaciers and 130 named lakes under the tall Rocky Mountain peaks. There are historic hotels and a landmark road in this region of rapidly receding glaciers. These mountains, formed by an overthrust, have the world's best sedimentary fossils from the Proterozoic era.
This is by far one of the more challenging hikes in Glacier. BRING LOTS OF WATER!!! There is none. It is easy the first mile and a half. Once you get past Apostocki Falls, bring on the climb! Make sure to take pictures next to the ghost tree about a mile up (pretty obvious). Past that point, lots of straight up the damn ridge. You will be some snow toward the top but the last 100 ft vert is all scramble Just follow the footprints to the top. IT IS WINDY AT THE TOP so hang on but worth the 360 degrees of view you get. Please knock over the cairn at the top, it WILL get in the way of pictures and it is quite large (means it was quite the climb!)
If you prefer a quiet hike this is the trail for you. During the 14 mi hike in late July we probably ran into 10 people. It is also an equestrian trail so it might be a little stinky and hard to walk at the beginning of the trail depending on the weather. Most part of the trail is in the woods, until the end when the vista opens up for the valley behind and the lake ahead. Saw a moose, and the ground squirrels by Cracker Lake were adorable. There is an abandoned mine at the end of the lake. I watched a video after coming back from this hike - apparently there is a side trail that leads to the summits surrounding Cracker Lake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyi0NYV4qUM
It seems pretty dangerous though - but you learn not to pee out in the open in this area even if you seem to be the only hikers around. They might be 1000 ft right above you, eating crackers and watching you for entertainment.
Truly fantastic and unique experience! We saw a Grizzly in the berry bushes. The lake is an astounding beauty. Don't forget to pack your bathing suits and jump in the lake - just joking. We did see people do that, and it seemed splashing fun. Despite the heavy traffic, it is without a doubt worthwhile.
Hiked this trail in July 2014, the last during a 3-day stay at Many Glacier Campground. Among the ones we hiked (Iceberg Lake Trail on the first day, and Cracker Lake Trail on the second, Grinnell Glacier Trail on the last), this one offered the greatest diversity in landscape, wildlife, and activities. The glacial lake was sort of a combination of the former two lakes. We saw a moose, marmots, bighorn sheep (the sheep seem to hang out there all the time), rocks and wildflowers of various colors, a waterfall, three lakes with distinctive features.
Interesting geology and history, too, if you sign up for the ranger led program. I highly recommend it. Taking a boat ride to cross the Swiftcurrent and Lower Grinnell Lakes saves time and energy for more interesting landscapes to follow.
I also recommend watching some videos about the recession of the Grinnell Glacier before you go. You will appreciate the experience and beautiful scenery more.
Great hike! The wildfire burnout area only adds the the beauty of this trail. It was a bit longer than anticipated, but the view of the Rocky Mountains made it fly by. The fire lookout at the top is a great spot to stop for a snack, we were fortunate enough to run into some rangers who let us do some exploring inside.
About 13 miles round trip, but worth every step! Pretty steep elevation gain, and some rough terrain, but the views are awe inspiring. The weeping wall about halfway up is really cool to check out. Also, be prepared for dramatic weather changes. It can be 70 at the trail head, but freezing rain near the glaciers.