Avalanche Lake via the Trail of the Cedars is a 5.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Essex, Montana that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

DISTANCE
5.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
748 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

cross country skiing

hiking

nature trips

skiing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

Start south of Avalanche Gorge Footbridge on Trail of Cedars; gradual climb through old growth cedars and hemlock forest along roaring stream to glacial melt lake fed by waterfalls from the surrounding bowl, wildlife - deer, bear. May be accessible if Going to Sun road is closed. Adjacent to Avalanche campground area. Avalanche campground in located in one of the most popular sections of Glacier National Park west of the Continental Divide. The campground is situated within old growth cedar and hemlock trees, keeping the area cool during the summer months. The campground accommodate tent and RV campers, however only 50 sites will accommodate vehicle lengths up to 26 feet. Potable water is accessible in the campground, and restroom facilities are equipped with flush toilets and sinks with running water. Bring your hiking boots and binoculars if you are staying at Avalanche Campground. 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. Plant enthuisiasts will appreciate the diverse species of flora.

hiking
4 days ago

Decent views on the trail and at the lake. Water took on an amazing shade of aquamarine. It was the most underwhelming hike in Glacier NP for us. Way too crowded. Very little change in elevation, views weren't as dramatic as I hoped.

hiking
11 days ago

Our whole family ages 7-47 lived this hike. The view at the lake was amazing!

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful hike with beautiful views! Bring lots of water and enjoy lunch at the lake.

hiking
23 days ago

I got to the trail head right at 4pm and hiked at full pace and made it to the lake in about 20min even with recording video of a white tail buck crossing the trail about 40 yards ahead of me. The trail was frozen and slippery in some areas. I made it back with barely any daylight left in the forested trails(there were two groups of hikers behind me that I passed)

1 month ago

Wonderful hike in its entirety. Beautiful scenery, relaxing river ambiance with impressive rock formations (carvings) and a remarkable reward once you hit the lake.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome, easy hike through beautiful scenery.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail through the trees. Uphill on the way out to the lake. It snowed while we were there end of sept. Very popular hike. Beautiful waterfall on the trail of the cedars. The avalanche trail also runs along a creek which was very pretty.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this with two young kids. We had to carry them most of the way, but we made it to the lake in about an hour. The view at the end was well worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

Everything about this hike is perfection... but don’t cut it short. Go to both ends of the lake. You’re missing out if you don’t see the view from the opposite shore. Plus fewer people go the full distance so it’s a little more peaceful.

2 months ago

One the most beautiful trails I have hiked. Breathtaking, serene lake and heavenly waterfalls. Lots of wildlife.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful walk along the stream and lake at the end is absolutely stunning. It was quiet going up to the lake but lots of crowds as we made our way back down. Going to the sun had just closed at avalanche creek so lots of people settled on this hike when they realized they couldn't drive further. Definitely recommend going early as part of the lake's beauty is its solitude.

2 months ago

Enjoyed this trail. Great scenery along the way to the lake. Would definitely do it again in summer though and first thing in the morning to avoid crowds

hiking
2 months ago

This would be a wonderful family hike as there's no elevation gain and a well paved trail. Lake was beautiful as were the mountain peaks and waterfalls/streams on the way in.

2 months ago

Great exercise, and the view at the lake is breathtaking! Lake is freezing, but there are plenty of deer and other wildlife to be seen on the way. Running shoes worked during the summer-
Busy trail with a lot of families, but still recommend

3 months ago

Great hike. Set some time aside to enjoy all the cut outs and views of the river. Saw deer and a Bear way in the distance. Great work out.

hiking
3 months ago

As the description says, it's heavily trafficked, even fairly early in the morning. However, if you don't mind crowds, and love pristine, calm, blue mountain lakes, and a waterfall or two, it's absolutely worth seeing. Great birding, great place for kids to splash around the beaches, and plenty of fly fishing opportunities.

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Fantastic view. Lots of people though even in the late evening and little parking.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful trail, perfect for a leisurely hike.

hiking
3 months ago

Avalanche lake is a beautiful hike! The trail is built for lots of people so it is fairly wide. The river runs along the trail majority of the way! Once you get to the lake, keep going to the other side! Only one other person was there. We had a deer that came so close we could almost pet it! Very cool and quiet! Started around 7am and there were only a few others on the trail! The parking lot fills up by 8am! Passed lots of people on the way down! Lots of families! Go early if you want some peace and quiet! Definitely recommend!

hiking
3 months ago

This would be a good hike for a family that couldn't do the harder and longer hikes. But that's only if you're prepared -- it's still almost a 6 mile hike. As people are saying, it is very crowded so I'd start no later than 7-7:30 am. if you don't want to see people. (Although I don't think many people will be allowed on this trail for quite some time due to the fires in the west right now.) Still a beautiful lake and worth doing if you're in the area.

3 months ago

Beautiful. Lots of traffic. For a short hike this has exceptional views. I love the entire journey through the forest not just the view at the end :).

3 months ago

Perfect family hike— 8 year olds enjoyed. The waterfalls are beautiful.

backpacking
4 months ago

Hiked to Avalanche Lake.
This hike was tied in with the trail of Cedars hike. The old growth trees all the way to the lake are just incredible. There are three different types as you can see in the photographs. A fairly easy hike that can be used as a recovery day between the tough ones.
If you swim in the lake, check your toes when you get out for leeches. The water is not very active so they can find you very easily

4 months ago

crowded, but beautiful

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful Hike! Too crowded later in the day for my taste but stunning, just stunning!

4 months ago

This is such a stunning hike. It climbs through forest along a river with rapids and waterfalls. Eventually you pass an avalanche area and then you come to Avalanche Lake which is a true gem. The water is crystal clear and bright blue. The mountains surrounding it are stunning and there are tons of waterfalls cascading down the cliffs. Truly lovely.

You can continue past the initial viewpoint for another mile or so to see more of the lake. I recommend it. Every angle offers something new.

4 months ago

This was a very nice hike. Watched a black bear foraging across the lake. Good view at the lake of the falls. Worth the extra hike to the top of the lake for a nice view. Got to the trail head by 7:30am for parking, light traffic on the trail at that time. Very traffic heading to the lake on my return. Returned from the hike at 10:30, and the parking was full.

4 months ago

Definitely a quick and easy hike, but very, very popular and crowded. I am amazed that the trail is as wide as it is and people still do not understand the concept of treat it like a two lane US Hwy (we are in the US, so keep to your right). If it narrows, yield to the hikers coming UP. This is an easy hike, which means trail runners use it, so be aware and move out of the way. It is about courtesy.

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