Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Trail type
9.70 mi (15.61 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.

Two of the more unique trails in Glacier National Park share the same starting section: Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel. Iceberg Lake sits at 6,094 feet and is flanked by Mount Wilbur, Iceberg Peak, and the Ptarmigan Wall. The steep mountains surrounding the lake allow snow and ice to accumulate and fall into the lake, which receives little direct sunlight as a result. This interesting geology creates a situation where the lake is known for having floating icebergs year round in most cases.

Begin the hike along the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, which branches off about halfway to the lake. The parking lot is shared with several trails and fills up early; if you can’t find a spot, you can park at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, which is just 0.2 miles further. Make sure to also carry bear spray and make lots of noise, as the first few miles are prime grizzly habitat. You’ll start by walking through the trees where there are a few open spots to look ahead and see how much of the hike remains. Many easy creek crossings will get you to the turnoff for Ptarmigan Tunnel, which makes a great extension in case you have extra time and energy on the way back. Turn left here and continue toward Iceberg Lake.

Along the final stretch of the hike to the lake, look down the valley to your left to see how far you’ve come. The forested canyon makes a great picture as the hillside is covered in wildflowers for much of the summer. Iceberg Lake itself is surrounded by fragile wildflower habitat, so take great care and obey the posted signs. If you are feeling brave, wading into the water (or diving in!) is something you’ll never forget. Come back the way you came after a well-deserved snack break while taking in the views.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Unique view. Wildflowers. Accessible.



Trailhead Elevation

4,964.00 ft (1,513.03 m)


Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Geologically significant



Would recommend taking the Shangri la trail instead of the main trail due to crowds. This trail is not recommended for beginner or even moderate hikers nor those with fears of heights.
The trailhead is a bit difficult to find but starts off the swiftcurrent lake trail. You go through heavy trees which open to a large meadow and that is when the elevation gain starts. Once you get the cliff, there is a bit of climbing to do with about 300-400 ft. in elevation gain over 1/4 mile. There are a couple of narrow passes where you need to plan out how to make it across (put your poles on the right side of your pack so you can hug the cliff). After teh climb you are rewarded with a beautiful view of Shangri La lake. This is a great place to stop, grab some food and water, and look for bears on all sides of the lake. It is quite peaceful and an amazing off the beaten path lake.
After going around the lake, you have a bit more elevation (depends on how far up Mt. Wilbur you want to cross.
Once you cross over the ridge, Iceberg lake stretches out below. Getting down isn't for the faint of heart as you need to go down scree (loose rock) and there is definitely an art to it.
This way is much more of a rewarding one to take to Iceberg lake but is worth the challenge as we only encountered 3 people and they turned back once they got to the climbing section. Once you've jumped in, take the main path back.
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