Cracker Lake Trail

MODERATE 113 reviews
#7 of 120 trails in

Cracker Lake Trail is a 12 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Swiftcurrent, 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. Horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
12.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,650 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

no dogs

One of the most beautiful hikes in Glacier. It's fairly long hike and the scenery is great. You truly get to experience everything from crossing creeks on log bridges, trekking through the woods and then the final approach to cracker lake is a breeze. Make sure to plan accordingly and go the extra ~1 mile down to the lake shore. Gorgeous blue nestled below the Glacier and surrounded by mountains on all sides.

24 minutes ago

Cracker Lake trail is very different from many trails in East Glacier. The first half of the hike in is mostly forested, many switchbacks and few great views. But the last half is gorgeous. The Valley seems to continue to unfold as you get closer to the lake. Very scenic valley and nice place to camp out or picnic.

15 hours ago

Moderate incline the entire way, but nothing to shy away from. Horses had the first mile torn pretty good. Beauty of a hike with less of a crowd

2 days ago

The lake itself is beautiful! The first couple miles are highly covered in horse poop, which is a little frustrating. Once you get past that part it’s much better. The views of the lake are incredible. It’s worth going to if you don’t mind the horses and horse poop!

hiking
13 days ago

Worth every minute, mile, and sore muscle. This was only my second hike ever, but will likely be my favorite for a while to come. Definitely doable, even for those that aren't frequent hikers or aren't in marathon-shape (like me!), just requires stamina and the mental will to keep going. The hardest part (and the longest) for me was the final mile to the end on the return trip. I'm sure that's probaly the case with most hikes, but I thought the trail head was never going to appear! We spotted at mountain goat, a beaver-like animal, and a few riders on horses. Oh, and tons of adorable little chipmunks! Didn't see any bears, but definitely knew they weren't far away as evidenced by their droppings. Recommend bringing bear spray and a bell, just in case. As previously mentioned, the water is a surreal blue, and the backdrop is spectacular. We didn't swim in the water, as it was quite windy and chilly when we hiked (September), but we dipped our fingers in. Plenty of places to pitch a tent or have a picnic. Additionally, there's a little out-house at the top, which is nice! Lastly, the trail was not too crowded, which was nice, seeing as in some spots the path gets pretty narrow. I definitely recommend!

22 days ago

Beautiful hike, varied terrain. Highly recommend camping overnight thou getting a permit is not easy.

23 days ago

Cracker Lake is absolutely beautiful, it makes it well worth the 6.5 mile trek. The trail itself isn’t bad at all - there’s a slight incline the entire way up, but it’s not too steep. We completed the hike in just over 6 hours. Like many other people have mentioned, the one downside to this hike is the horse poop on the trail.

backpacking
25 days ago

If you don't mind horse poop, Cracker Lake is a beautiful and fairly easy backpacking trail. Instead of steep, steep climbs, the trail makes a gradual incline most of the way. Gorgeous river bridge crossings, marmots galore, and of course three amazing backcountry campsites with full views of Cracker Lake. Please follow the trail around the lake, around a hidden corner is an old mine, which is now home to the cutest family of hoary marmots I've encountered. Horseback riding to the lake is also an option.

hiking
1 month ago

My group thought this hike was great. On the drive to trailhead, we saw a momma black bear and two young cubs foraging in a field along the way. Perfect way to start the day!

Gang of Coloradans here, so elevation didn’t impact us. Started at 10am thinking we would run into hoards of people, but saw probably 8 groups total, maybe 20 people throughout the entire hike (not including 2 horse trail groups). First bit is wooded and covered, people are right about the horse waste; not the best but also not the worst (like, get over it, share the trail). We were excited to see some different scat at about mile 2, looked like black bear had a great lunch. Steady incline, but manageable. Some steep areas, we brought hiking poles for the day hike but found they weren’t necessary. Saw a snake along the switchbacks, small and harmless. Pretty stream in the middle of the hike, another group mentioned seeing a moose in that area. Up and up included some open areas where coverage was sparse. When you’re about a mile from lake, coverage is gone — bring a hat! Sun was brutal. As it opened up, it was really beautiful and still ascending gradually. Lake itself is surreal, so turquoise and opaque. There’s a healthy shoreline along lake, for many groups to chill and enjoy.

We’ve been a lot of places and done many hikes, and this was one of our top purely for the lake experience. Don’t listen to the party poopers saying majority of it’s boring #takeahike — Bring bear spray and enjoy! Happy trails!

backpacking
1 month ago

Hiked hard . Swim in the lake baby. Started this hike behind Many Glacier Hotel. Lots of solitude. Not one of the more popular hikes. But let me tell you it is tough. You will have solitude. And you will be so glad that you chose this hike. Most folks choose Grinnell Glacier and miss this one.

hiking
1 month ago

Planned to do ptarmigan lake today, but it was closed to bear activity. Cracker lake ended up being a great hike. The first half is pretty boring though

backpacking
1 month ago

Looking to hike out Wednesday 8/1! Will possibly camp. Anyone want to join? Feel free to call or text 3108904775

-Chris

1 month ago

We did this hike on 7/20. This was one of the best hikes we've done! About 12 miles from the trailhead. We saw a black bear that crossed the trail about 2 miles in so bring bear spray!! Wouldn't say this trail was difficult (gradual climb the whole way except the last 0.5 mi to the lake) in nature but the distance was taxing. There's an outhouse at the end for the campers there. A lengthy day hike so go early! We went around 9:15 and we saw people once every 45m-1hour.

There were a lot of horse poop like the other reviewers have said. But there were girls that worked at the park who scoops them out of the way.


The views were breathtaking. Absolutely recommend this trail!!!

hiking
1 month ago

As other reviews have stated, lots of horse droppings on the initial stretch of the hike. I didn't consider this hike to be difficult, the inclines are very gradual. There is also a lot of shade in the beginning which was nice. There was a lot of bear activity when we hiked on 7/17/18 so carrying bear spray and being bear aware is essential.

hiking
1 month ago

As other reviews have stated, lots of horse droppings on the initial stretch of the hike. I didn't consider this hike to be difficult, the inclines are very gradual. There is also a lot of shade in the beginning which was nice. There was a lot of bear activity when we hiked on 7/17/18 so carrying bear spray and being bear aware is essential.

2 months ago

Did this one 2 weeks ago. Loved this one. Great scenery. Only thing I didn’t enjoy was that it had rained the day before and the 1st km or so was walking through a mixture of mud and horse droppings.

hiking
2 months ago

Majestic experience. My favorite lake in Glacier. Saw a young Grizzly.

backpacking
2 months ago

My fiancé and I did this as a 1 night backpacking trip the first week of July. It was challenging as the hike in is mostly uphill, and the first 1.5-2 miles are frequented by horse tours which make the trail extremely muddy and difficult to traverse. However the hike is beautiful, and the view of Cracker Lake is worth it. Be forewarned that it can be EXTREMELY windy at the campsite - it was hard to get the tent up. And the weather went back and forth between sunny/pleasant to cold/windy/hail with little notice. The campsite is located right on the lake, and is secluded with Mt. Siyeh directly overhead. It was truly a beautiful site if you can handle the weather.

hiking
2 months ago

Long hike but the view at the lake is one of the best in the park

hiking
2 months ago

did this hike 6/30 - very little snow - ok to navigate.

the first 2 miles of this trail was the absolute worst trail I've ever encountered. its 2 miles of horse shit and the smell of horse shit. its so unsanitary and unsafe it isn't even funny. they had bear signs up on this trail and I couldn't even look up the first 2 miles to be aware of my surrounding because it was just constant horse crap. after these 2.1 miles its ok. if I could skip the first 2 miles i'd give a 5*

hiking
2 months ago

Trail blows in the beginning. Hard to walk along the muddy horse tracks. It's totally worth the less than ideal conditions in the beginning though, as the scenery becomes more beautiful the further you go in. The lake was not as blue as we saw in other pictures when we got there, although that was probably due to the rain the day before.

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely great hike. This is one of my top three hikes in Glacier. Trail conditions at the beginning were a little rough due to horses, horse dung, and mud. Once off the horsetrail, the conditions got better. A flooded stream crossing, and a few patches of snow were the only impediments.

2 months ago

The entire hike is beautiful and arriving at the lake was a spiritual experience for me. I also did the trail ride and the experience was enhanced by riding and sharing the trail with a horse.

hiking
3 months ago

Stop reading the reviews to figure out if you should hike this and get up there! The lake is incredible and definitely my favorite in Glacier so far!

It’s a long hike but as you can see with most other recordings, takes about 4 in a half hours of hiking. We had to walk through a lot of snow during the last mile here in early June and the lake had some crazy wind gusts, but it didn’t ruin the mood at all.

*edit - we saw a marmot

backpacking
3 months ago

My sister and I snagged a backcountry permit and backpacked to Cracker Lake two days ago. Based on other reviews/blogs we had read prior to going, we were really nervous about encountering a bear along the trail, but we made a ton of noise and luckily didn’t see a single one. The hike itself is mediocre; a couple steep parts and not a lot of views. The last mile and a half of the trail still had snowy parts, but we were fine with our hiking boots and trekking poles. Once you get to the lake, the views are phenomenal. Otherworldly; we were in such awe of this place! Camping was a breeze and waking up to the views of the lake was amazing. Definitely worth lugging 30 pounds of stuff up. It was about 70 during the day and got down to around 35 at night. This was one of our favorite parts of our roadtrip and definitely a must-see! Couldn’t recommend more.

hiking
4 months ago

Adored this hike on the most perfect day with a high of 60 degrees. Lots of wildlife. Once you reach the lake, the trot was totally worth it. We stopped for lunch and the way back was much faster. It was the perfect day hike length for my taste.

4 months ago

The trail got really long on the way back, especially for my pregnant wifey.

hiking
4 months ago

Looking to hike this in mid to late July with another person or small group. Normally would do this by myself but I’ve heard of a lot of bear and moose sightings in this area and rather not chance it. HMU if interested. 716 359 2077.

hiking
5 months ago

Lots of wildlife here - we saw a grizzly and others we ran into said they saw a Moose the same day. Had lunch at the lake.. It was spectacular!

hiking
9 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes I've done and favorite that we did in Glacier. It's a fairly long hike and the scenery is great. You truly get to experience everything from crossing creeks on log bridges, trekking through the woods and then the final approach to cracker lake is a breeze. Make sure to plan accordingly and you MUST go the extra ~1 mile down to the lake shore. Gorgeous blue that I've never seen before nestled below the Glacier and surrounded by mountains on all sides.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful hike, long, but worth it. The views are spectacular and the water is a color I've never seen before! Great spot for an engagement! ;)

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