Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail spans nearly 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada, traversing a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The CDT can be completed as a single thru-hike that will take 4 to 6 months, or by section-hiking smaller segments. The Montana-Idaho portion of the CDT features nearly 1,000 miles of diverse mountain terrain. You’ll pass alongside the lofty peaks of the Anaconda, Bitterroot and Beaverhead Mountains; walk through the rugged and remote Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex; and finally arrive at the “Crown of the Continent” that is Glacier National Park. In this guide we’ll take a closer look at the Grinnell Lake & Lake Josephine Alternate.

This alternate provides a slightly more scenic ending to Section 29 of the CDT than the official route which stays above the lakes and follows a well used stock trail. To begin the alternate watch for the Feather Plume Cutoff junction and turn slightly left.

You’ll follow this trail through the forest and along Cataract Creek until descending to another junction. Turning left will take you to beautiful Grinnell Lake, just a short side trip that is well worth it.

After enjoying the lake backtrack and cross Cataract Creek, where another side trip to Hidden Falls is well worth it.

From here on out it is easy walking on paths where you are sure to encounter many day hikers. You’ll come to Lake Josephine and the boat docks. It is possible to catch a ferry across the lake but, assuming you want to hike, you’ll follow the trail around the northern side of the lake.

You’ll then come to Swiftcurrent Lake, where you can see the beautiful Many Glacier Lodge across the lake. Follow the easy trail until you come to a trailhead. This marks the end of the alternate. Many Glacier Campground and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn are just down the road to the left.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Grinnell Lake. Hidden Falls. Josephine Lake.


Popular with day hikers.

Trailhead Elevation

5,214.00 ft (1,589.23 m)

Highest point

5,214.00 ft (1,589.23 m)


Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures


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