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Pets allowed
Yes
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.70 mi (2.74 km)
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The hike to Saint Mary Falls is a popular one in Glacier National Park, and with good reason: It boasts incredible lake and mountain views, beautiful wildflowers, and powerful falls. To get to the trailhead, enter the park from the west entrance station and drive 10.6 miles on the Going To The Sun Road.

You’ll want to be prepared for the limited parking situation. At the Saint Mary Falls Trailhead there is a small parking lot with a bit of space next to the main road for overflow cars to wait and prepare to pounce on vacated spots. As an alternative, the shuttle from Sun Point is an excellent option.

The trail descends initially splitting a path through wildflowers such as Indian paintbrush and bear grass. As a result of the Reynold’s Creek fire of 2015, which burned 4,800 acres, flowers, fresh ground cover, and lake views are now the main attractions as opposed to the former forest of firs, spruces, and cedars. You will notice the charred tree remnants right away.

About a quarter-mile from the parking lot you’ll find your first trail sign. As the sign indicates, you’ll turn right here to continue to Saint Mary Falls. Depending on recent rainfall, be prepared to stone-step across a creek further along the trail.

You’ll hear the falls before you see them. Once you arrive, take your time and snap photos from the footbridge of the upper tiers of the falls (there are three tiers in total), then climb along the rocks on either side of the bridge for alternative views. The blue-green pools into which the falls rush are equally mesmerizing.

Work up your energy from this point to either ascend back to the parking lot, or continue along beyond the footbridge for another mile to Virginia Falls, which are highly recommended.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Wildflowers. Waterfall. Proximity to a second waterfall. Lake views.

Cons

Can get crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

4,737.00 ft (1,443.84 m)

Net Elevation Gain

215.00 ft (65.53 m)

Address

Going-to-the-Sun Rd
Browning, MT 59417
United States

Features

Waterfalls
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers
Geologically significant
Big Game Watching

Location

Field Guide

Comments

The falls are pretty any time of day and both the trail and parking area can get relatively busy from 10:00 am through 6 pm during the summer. Understandably, since most folks want to exit the trails before the shadows get long and the bears become more active. If you follow the "crowd", unfortunately, you'll miss the wonderful light show that occurs just before sunset! The timing is right from mid-July through mid-August, the sun manages to find a low notch in the distant mountains that illuminates the mist that rises off the turbulent waters of the creek. You'll likely enjoy the view with only the last few hikers leaving Virginia Falls further up, or perhaps all by yourself. It will be dusk by the time you find your vehicle so be sure to pack your Counter assault spray. Photographed mid-July 2014. © Thomas Schoeller
07/04/2018
Lovely quick hike to a waterfall on the east side of the park. I agree with the original post - parking is very limited. Be prepared to wait or take a shuttle.
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