Avalanche Lake via the Trail of the Cedars

MODERATE 411 reviews
#1 of 114 trails in

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

hiking

nature trips

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
21 days ago

One of the first hikes we did in the NW and we were hooked after that. Hiking through old cedar, often next to a raging river, only to be rewarded with a beautiful crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike through the old growth cedars along the creek, ending at a glacial lake with great waterfalls and thick plant life everywhere!

cross country skiing
1 month ago

a long yet if your up for the 14 mile hike and XC skiing well worth it hike! amazing views from the start to finish! We thought we would be the only people up there, but there was about 6 other people behind us. make sure to start early, it took us about 12 hours, because of the road being closed 5 miles before the trail!!!

2 months ago

First hike I completed in the park and the view you are rewarded with at the end is well worth it. Be sure to carry bear spray, even though it is a very popular hike and almost always crowded during tourist season you still have a chance at seeing a bear.

hiking
3 months ago

A short and easy hike through the woods with a spectacular lake framed with mountains at the end and a nice stream with small waterfalls at the beginning. The chipmunks and golden-mantled ground squirrels by the lake are so used to human presence, you can observe them from closer up than anywhere else I've ever been.
If you have a half-afternoon free and happen to be in the area, this hike is an absolute must! Just expect parking to be somewhat difficult at peak season, as the hike is very popular.

hiking
3 months ago

Nice shady moderate hike for our last day in Glacier after being beat up from all the other hikes of our trip. The lake is so pretty and the falls into it are breathtaking.

hiking
4 months ago

make sure you go on a clear day or you will be disappointed. the view at the end is fantastic

5 months ago

Busy trail, but the lake at the end is worth it!

hiking
5 months ago

Nice and somewhat easy hike! It was extremely busy but that did not stop us from enjoying it. Once we hit Avalanche Lake we took a little break, dipped our toes in the water and enjoyed the beautiful scenery!

hiking
5 months ago

Easy hike with great views on the beginning and end of the trail! Avalanche Lake is well worth it!

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike, fast and easy. Lake was gorgeous. Fishing was slow but successful.

6 months ago

Nice, easy trail to some really cool views. If you can go in the fall, it's quieter with less people.

7 months ago

easy trail, dusty and very overused. beautiful destination hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Very well maintained trail with some fantastic waterfall views. The uphill stretches are not too bad and I would recommend this trail for all skill levels. Views at the lake are unreal! I would suggest finding a parking spot early as it fills up pretty quick.

7 months ago

great trail

Lots of variety...big cedars, waterfall, rushing stream, beautiful tranquil lake. Enjoyed this hike with our family. Good "training" hike before trying difficult hikes. Spend some time by the lake and by the falls. Beautiful.

hiking
7 months ago

Bit crowded, but that's because it's a very accessible hike with some beautiful scenery. Highly recommended

hiking
7 months ago

stunning. I have done this trail many times and it's always gorgeous. the gorge at the start is incredible, as well as the walk through the old trees on the boardwalk.

hiking
7 months ago

It was a fairly easy hike, though a bit overcrowded. If you're seeking solitude, go elsewhere or get a very early/or late start.

hiking
7 months ago

I feel like this is one of those tourist trap style hikes where its so overhyped when you finally see it - it's not as amazing as you expected. I'd say come later in the evening but make sure you have enough time to get back before dark because it's really pitch black. Especially since parking here is a bit hard to get sometimes I ended up coming really late and hiking back in the dark with the last stragglers of the lake. It was a good hike to and from the lake since the trail is extremely well managed so that's a plus though beware of the flies at the lake, not sure what exactly they're called but they will break skin and annoy the hell out of you.

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked this trail in conjunction with the Trail of the Cedars Loop. Great views. Very heavy People Pollution!

7 months ago

Really a 4+ hike. It had a great start (loved the creek and rock formations) and end (Great Lake with waterfalls in distance) but was really busy and not much to see along the way. Kids (ages 4 and 5 years) did fine with it and it was nice to do hard part first half (which was mostly up on way out). Would recommend but try for a quieter time of day.

7 months ago

Super busy, but beautiful walk! I couldn't get over all the waterfalls at the top surrounding the lake.

hiking
8 months ago

This was an awesome hike. We did not see any bears but the trail was closed for an hour earlier that day for a sighting, according to a ranger we chatted with on the trail. It is very shady to begin with and includes a rushing river early in the hike. When you get to the lake there are plenty of logs and rocks to sit on and take in the view, although there is no shade. We could see 3 different water falls in the distance heading towards the lake. It was quite hazy from a nearby wildfire which kept the view from spectacular to really nice.

8 months ago

Just got back from a three day hiking trip, and this trail was my favorite! It's so beautiful! Also it's nice that it isn't super long. It was a great place to just chill and relax by the lake.

hiking
8 months ago

We got on this trail around 9:30am and were lucky enough to snag one of the last parking spots. Needless to say, this trail is very busy due to it's accessible nature and close proximity to campgrounds and the park entrance.

The Trail of the Cedars was a nice easy stroll, and while the foliage was very pretty, anyone who's ever seen California's sequoias and redwoods won't be very impressed by the trees here. The hike to Avalanche Lake had a good amount of up and down, meandering through the forest next to Avalanche Creek. Once we arrived at the lake, the shore was overrun by people, so we hiked around the edge a little further and found an area where we could be alone, taking in the sight of countless waterfalls flowing into the lake.

For me, the highlight of this trail was Avalanche Gorge, featuring a beautiful creek rushing through smooth, moss-covered rocks, with impossibly aqua-blue water—this is the quintessential photograph from this hike.

I'd highly recommend pairing this with another short Glacier day hike—we started our morning at Hidden Lake Overlook then made our way down to the Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake. Those two hikes put us in Apgar for a 1:30pm lunch, where most of the crowds had already moved on for the day.

hiking
8 months ago

Completed this hike on 8/14/17. Get to the trailhead by 8am to hopefully secure parking. Don't stop at the first beach - go around the lake and you will be rewarded with more stunning views and a great oppty to capture a mirror image of the mtn.

hiking
8 months ago

Completed this hike on Sunday, 8/13/17. It is a short walk to Avalanche Gorge, which is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. You'll know it when you see it--a gorge of bright blue rushing glacial water. You continue up the trail two miles from the Gorge to Avalanche Lake. You follow Avalanche Creek for the first part of the trail, but it soon disappears; however, you can hear it for most of the hike up. Avalanche Lake is a gorgeous mountain lake, and the waterfalls draining into it down the mountains in the distance are quite a majestic sight to behold.

What stops me from giving this hike 5 stars are two things: 1. This is an easy hike and so it is heavily trafficked. Trying to pass slow groups of people taking up the entire trail was fairly annoying. 2. Dogs aren't allowed on this trail, so leave your fur babies at home. I actually camped at Glacier for the weekend and was very disappointed to see that many trails at Glacier are no-dogs-allowed.

8 months ago

Was a lovely hike. We hit the trail at 8:10am, but I wish we had gone earlier to watch as the sun rose. Lake was very low and not the beautiful blue you come to expect in Glacier, but it was lovely nonetheless. Perfect for kids and those not wanting a full day hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Not too hard, families and novice hikers can pretty easily do this hike. The view of the lake is amazing, we spent close to an hour there. Along the way you will hike through a beautiful, pleasant smelling pine forest with several awesome looks at nearby peaks. The trail is well maintained and easy to hike.

Load More