The hike to Avalanche Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park. It is moderate in length, moderate in elevation gain, and the reward at the end is simply marvelous. The trail can be accessed from the Avalanche Creek Campground or the roadside parking areas on either side of Avalanche Creek.
From the road, the first part of the trail is along the Trail of the Cedars, an accessible and easy boardwalk route through old-growth forest. From here the trail climbs up along the small but stunning canyon carved by the creek. There are many overlooks to see the canyon, but caution is advised here due to wet rocks and loose soil. The trail continues through dense forest with practically no views until much closer to Avalanche Lake. There is one nice opening at the base of Hidden Creek, which flows out of Hidden Lake about 2,400 feet above.
Avalanche Lake is soon reached and offers many options. There is a large beach at the near end with great views. The trail continues along the south shore to the far end, where there are more great beaches and streams to explore. The scenery here is stunning in all directions, and the most difficult thing about this hike is having to leave the lake.
Parking is particularly difficult at the Avalanche Creek Trailhead, so it is advisable to either get there early or take the free park shuttle.