Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,181.00 ft (664.77 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
11.00 mi (17.70 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.

Are you looking to visit the Gem of Glacier National Park, without having to deal with the crowds? If you happen to find yourself near Many Glacier, then Grinnel Glacier Trail is an absolute must in order to enjoy the full experience of Glacier National Park. This part of the park is nested right just behind the Many glacier park entrance on your first right before you get the Babb. 

This trail spends a large amount of time out of the forest and exposed to the sun so if you are someone that burns easy then make sure to bring your sunscreen. Also this part of the park is know to inhabit Grizzly bears so make sure that you have your bear spray in an easy accesible place, so you can be sure to get to it in case you encounter a bear. In order to avoid an encounter make sure to make lots of noise and travel in a group. With that being said be grizzly bear attacks are very rare and are often not fatal, so be sure to remain calm and enjoy the trail. 

Grinnel Glacier Trailhead begins about a quarter of a mile past the Many Glacier Hotel which is on the back of Swiftcurrent lake, the trail has a flushable toilet with campgrounds near by, if you are looking to stay the night and get an early start in the morning. Backcountry camping reservation are also avaliable on the park website but reservations need to be made well in advance of your trip. 

After you get your pack ready to go the trail head follows the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake, and Lake Josephine for the first two miles. This section is very easy with little to no incline so make sure to save your water for the more intense sections. 

Once you clear Lake Josephine, you will begin a steady incline which allows magnificent views of Grinnel Glacier valley. Right when you finish the third mile there is a small waterfall which you have to pass that will allow you to refill those empty water bottles. Right before the waterfall offers amazing views of the valley as well as a chance to spot wildlife that are headed to the lower lakes to drink the turquoise water. 

Nearing the fourth mile there are four backcountry outhouses that are avaliable if you need to make a pit stop. As well as a beatiful picnic area that offers stunning views of the lakes down below and the surrounding mountains. 

For the last mile the incline becomes a slightly more challanging, adding in some switchbacks which take a little more time and effort so make sure you are staying hydrated.

Finally when you reach the top you are left with the stunning view of the electric blue glacial lake and the garden wall the towers above.  At the lake there is plenty of room for you to head to the shore and feel the extremely cold water. Connecting to the Garden wall you will notice part of the glacier which remains frozen year round. 

At the top make sure to enjoy the pristine wilderness and then get ready for your hike down. Make sure to leave enough daylight so you are not traveling in the dark. 

 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beautiful glacial lake.

Cons

Insects can be annoying depending on what time of year.

Trailhead Elevation

4,922.00 ft (1,500.23 m)

Highest point

6,575.00 ft (2,004.06 m)

Features

Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Near lake or river
Glacier
Backcountry camping
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Big Game Watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

Yes

Location

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