Grinnell Glacier Trail

MODERATE
#1 of 90 trails in Glacier National Park
Grinnell Glacier Trail is a 9.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near East Glacier Park, MT that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and fly fishing and is accessible from July until September.

9.9 miles 2024 feet Out & Back
camping fishing fly fishing hiking lake river waterfall wild flowers wildlife bugs no dogs
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Paul Morelli
1 month ago

41 Completed35 Reviews

Incredible views of placid glacial lakes, snowy peaks, and of course Grinnell Glacier itself. The trail is long, but not particularly difficult or strenuous. Grizzlies use this trail too - keep your eyes open! I saw one loping along the trail ahead of me, coming my way, and had to turn around. Eventually, it headed off the trail to eat, and I was able to walk nervously by, bear spray in hand.

ReBecca Hunt-Foster
1 month ago

19 Completed16 Reviews

One of the best hikes in Glacier. See one of the last remaining glaciers up close. Be sure to check out the awesome Billion year old stromatolite fossils at the base of the glacier as well. An amazing site! Take hiking poles as there are often snowfields to cross across the trail that last well into the summer. The views down the valley are amazing as well! Beautiful colors and wildflowers in the summer.

Dustin Derrick
2 months ago

2 Completed2 Reviews

Great hike. A bit strenuous but highly rewarding. We saw bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and a huge bull moose. The glacier itself is spectacular as well. Rainbow over the valley was the icing on the cake!

Andrea Peterson
3 months ago

42 Completed22 Reviews

This was my first serious National Park hike! When we went into it, we thought it would be a lot more casual; as other reviewers have said, it's more strenuous than advertised. Here's my blog write-up from just after I hiked it (I was more of a hiking novice then):

"When we got to the trailhead, we were surprised to see that this was not a 7-mile roundtrip hike, but over 11 miles. I was still up for it, despite having had quite the bacchanal the night previous. We set out, passing first through a small bit of forest, complete with lots of ground-covering plants. A book I flipped through before visiting said that Glacier is in a perfect meeting place of four climatic forces, one of which is the warm, moist air from the Pacific northwest coast. This accounts for the leafy green ground cover, like I’m used to seeing on western Oregon hikes, but not very much further inland.

"After we got out of the forest, we started passing along the second lake, and found ourselves in the kind of berry bramble a bear would just love! Having just seen a bear on the side of the road before our hike, that was all our group could talk about. We were… nervous. So every now and then, one of our group would yell, 'HEY BEAR!' At this point, we were on a gradual incline, so gradual that I hadn’t noticed we were going up at all until I realized we weren’t level with the lake anymore.

"Then, we started going up, it started getting hotter and dryer, and we started in on our water. This would eventually become a serious issue for us: we planned on 7 miles’ worth of water… not 11. As we got higher and higher, we started realizing how much of a problem this would be. Also, being the least fit among our group, I was a little miserable with our pace (grueling, for you Oregon Trailers). We got past the second lake and really got up into rockier territory. Fortunately, the rocks were interspersed with a few minor waterfalls, one of which had to be walked under.

"It was around this point that we started seeing all of the wildlife! Lots of big horn sheep were right alongside the trail, and we managed to get a group shot of all of us in front of one on an elevated rock, some 10 yards off the trail. We also saw mountain goats along this particular trail.

"The last major push was a fourth of a mile uphill on rocks. Although I thought I was doing badly, those who had full packs were enjoying themselves even less. Now, we were really getting dry and most of us had hit the halfway point on our water bottles/camelbaks; but we all had to dip into our limited supply at this point. Finally, after we got to the top, we saw it: a glacial lake and plenty of room to sit and eat lunch at the water’s edge.

"The water might as well have been frozen, as far as I was concerned. It was so cold! We dipped our toes in and ate lunch, which we had plenty of food for, but not enough to drink. To the far left, by several hundred feet, was the actual glacier, and in front of us at the center of the far side of the lake was a waterfall coming down what is known as the Garden Wall. On the other side of this wall is where the Going-to-the-Sun Road is, which everyone drives on to see the great sights of Glacier. After Joe managed to get calf-deep in the waters to fish out a chunk of ice (which he threw back) (catch and release style) (you know, like fish), we took a few photos, packed up and decided to leave.

"The hike back down was decidedly less my style. The others were more than willing to rush down at a great pace, so as to get to water as soon as possible. I have had tight calves since I started running, and going downhill was proving particularly difficult. Everyone rushed ahead, and I grew angry with not having water and not getting to stop often. Ultimately, what frustrated me the most was not stopping often, because the sights in Glacier are pretty fantastic and you don’t see stuff like that in everyday life; when you go downhill, you don’t really get to stop and look around, for fear of losing your footing. So I really don’t have photos of the way back.

"In the end, however, I was so glad to have had some of the experiences this hike afforded me. I’ve only been on one longer hike, when I was ten years old, so the distance was pretty awesome. I definitely got to see a glacier. They aren’t as amazing as the ones you see in pictures, especially because of their melting status, but the environs around them are perfect lakes and places for animal life. Getting to see the big horn sheep as close as we did really made the hike for me. All in all, it was a great day to be out!"

Kathy Justesen
4 months ago

3 Completed3 Reviews

Awesome trail, excellent hike fantastic views!!! Loved it!!!

Jeff Brown
6 months ago

18 Completed2 Reviews

Amazing!

Roger Chesser
7 months ago

58 Completed11 Reviews

We took the boat from Many Glacier Hotel across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. On the way back we skipped the boat and walked back along Swiftcurrent Nature Trail to the Hotel. A pretty tough little hike, but the payoff is worth it. While the destination views of Iceberg Lake are better, the views along this trail are superior. We saw a sow grizzly with her two cubs. Highlight of the trip.

Andrew Gilles
8 months ago

15 Completed9 Reviews

An incredibly scenic hike highlighted with a glacier and lake with icebergs floating in it! Plenty of waterfalls, lakes, mountain views, and big horn sheep on the way up. The climb is more strenuous than advertised. Do this hike before it melts!

Don Armenoff
8 months ago

5 Completed5 Reviews

Spectacular views. The hike was a very good mix of strenuous climbs with same flat areas for beautiful scenic views. Again as with our hike to Sperry it's very unfortunate that Grinnell will soon be gone also.

Mary Furman
8 months ago

3 Completed3 Reviews

One of the most spectacular hikes. The trail climbs along ledges and up so steep it gave me vertigo for moments. We climbed in September and still so many beautiful falls--one can only imagine it could be difficult earlier. The glacier , while beautiful is tiny compared to what it was less than 10 years ago.

Amy Perkins
8 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Spectacular views. Well worth it but quite a few people.

Meg Richardson
8 months ago

2 Completed1 Reviews

The most amazing views I have ever seen! If you love nature and hiking this is a must do!!!

Franz Elizondo
9 months ago

1 Completed1 Reviews

Andrew Olek
9 months ago

6 Completed4 Reviews

Jacqueline Divita
10 months ago

16 Completed1 Reviews

Awesome!

Trent Smith
10 months ago

19 Completed21 Reviews

One of the greatest views in the Lower 48

Bibek Ghosh
10 months ago

2 Completed3 Reviews

Bibek Ghosh
10 months ago

2 Completed3 Reviews

Beautiful.

Co Kno
1 year ago

3 Completed1 Reviews

Stunning. I fear the change in the glacier when we are able to return. Stopped and took a swim off the boat dock in the frigid waters.

Lauren M.
1 year ago

Head up early before the crowds. There was lots of people coming up the mountain as we were going down. Hiked out to grinnell lake, and it was well worth.