The hike to Sperry Chalet and Campground is one of the more popular backcountry hikes in Glacier National Park, and for good reason. Moderate but sustained elevation gain through shady forest gets you to incredible overlooks and a campground on the rim of a mountainside. Day hikes from this spot are plenty and spectacular.
There are two options for overnight stays at Sperry Chalet--the chalet itself and Sperry Chalet Campground. To stay at the chalet with food and lodging services, you will need to reserve online. To camp with your own equipment, you will need a backcountry camping permit from the national park. There are only four sites at the campground, so reserving in advance is recommended. You can also do this trail as a long day hike without a special permit, and buy lunch at the chalet if you choose.
The journey begins at Sperry Trailhead across the road from Lake McDonald Lodge. The steepest section of trail is in the first mile or so, with some switchbacks climbing alongside Snyder Creek. Every now and then you will catch a glimpse of the lake through the trees, but scenery is mostly contained within dense mixed conifer forest. Only by working for it can you earn the huge views on this trail. Eventually the forest opens up into the rugged cirque that crowns this valley. The trail maintains a gentle grade for most of the way as it climbs through tiered glacial basins that trickle with meltwater streams and burst with greenery. Soon you will see the chalet perched atop the cliff overhead. From the chalet, it is only 0.3 more miles to the campground, which is quietly tucked within trees and boulders a little higher on the mountainside.
Mountain goats love this area, and you are likely to see them poking around camp and the chalet. They will try to chew on your packs, especially sweat-covered straps and clothing, because they want the salt. Keep your belongings away from the goats, and do not feed them. Bears also frequent this area, so be sure to follow all bear safety precautions as you would elsewhere in Glacier.
You should try to save time and energy for a day hike out of Sperry Chalet. Lincoln Pass is a short climb from the campground, and the view of Lincoln Lake and Lake Ellen Wilson is worth every step. A more intrepid side hike is to continue upward through the Sprague Creek basins to Gunsight Pass and Sperry Glacier, a trek that may require snow and ice gear depending on conditions. Even as a simple out and back, however, the trail to Sperry Chalet is a worthy challenge and one of Glacier's premiere overnight trips.