Wandering Pine is reader-supported. Thank you! When you buy through our links, we may earn a small portion at no additional cost to you. Learn more
LENGTH 5-10 mi
DIFFICULTY Easy and flat to Grinnell Lake, then hilly on the loop back.
DATE July 5, 2017
MAIN FEATURES The trail follows the shoreline of Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine and Grinnell Lake with views of 5 Glaciers from the Many Glacier Hotel area.
No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening – still all is Beauty!
I woke up to a text from my oldest son asking me if we felt the earthquake at 12:30am…
Earthquake??? they have those here???
After a bit of googling, I was able to see the a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Lincoln MT area with after shocks just 2-3 hours from here and were felt in East Glacier. The Scouts felt it, and ALL of the adults slept through it. Just an indication of how tired we all were I guess!
Another early start, out the door by 7:30 and on our way up the road to Many Glacier, the North East Entrance of Glacier National Park. We continued through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and Ranger Station to the Many Glacier Lodge. Right before the entrance to the park is a dam that is holding more of the turquoise glacial water we’ve become so smitten with on this trip.
The trail head to Grinnell Glacier is right off the Lodge and goes 7.5 miles around the 3 lakes. We wanted to get up to the Glacier but we had heard that it was still closed due to snow, ice and otherwise treacherous hiking conditions. The trail is a shaded flat walk for the first half, which was welcomed on this 90 degree day.
First stop, the boat launch for lunch, hammock and a swim! We didn’t take the tour boat, but we saw it on the way back and it looks like a cool option to shorten the hike or just get a different perspective from the lake.
I jumped in over my head in the cold blue water of Lake Josephine to retrieve a pair of sunglasses the Scouts spotted on the bottom of the lake from the boat dock. I gave them all first shot, no takers–so I went after them! The bottom of the lake was foot sucking silt that went past the ankles and as gross as that sounds, it felt good on my tired feet.
Dried off in the hot sun and then headed onward from Lake Josephine over a river and a crazy swinging bridge to Grinnell Lake. We are seeing water a lot more than we did on the last trip and I’m in it everyday.
Watching the white streams of water pouring out of the mountains down into the lake was mesmerizing and the overall view of the area, breathtaking. Still no comparison to Hidden Lake (mostly because we had to work a whole lot harder for that view!)
Despite the second bridge being washed out and having to crawl over a fallen tree or take your boots off and cross a stream, there were plenty of other people down at the shore of Grinnell Lake. In this crowd of people, I recognized a fellow Scoutmaster from a troop only about 10-15 miles away from us and then met a couple that lives less than a mile away from us! It is such a small world!
I took another break in my hammock and watched the Scouts skip rocks again, never tiring of it.
We crossed back onto the trail over the log this time, then over the bouncy suspension bridge up to Hidden Falls. Totally worth the hike up the hill on this spur trail to see this hidden gem. The sunlight backlit the dark canyon and gave the water a luminescent turquoise glow. Took a few more pictures and enjoyed the cool mist of the falls before heading back to complete the loop around Lake Josephine.
The West side of the lake was exposed and HOT! I drank 3L of water on this hike and could have had another one. We were glad to have the water filter along. Other hikers we ran into on this side of the trail saw bears, not us—probably too noisy.
The trail returned back into the woods and looped back to the private cabin on Swiftcurrent Lake that we crossed on our way in. I had to dunk my head in the lake quick, now that it was my thing….every lake, river, creek… It felt awesome!
By the time we got back to the Many Glacier hotel we had somehow added 2 miles to our hike making it 9.5 miles (?) Stopped at the Lodge down the road to cool off, and get MORE HUCKLEBERRY ICE CREAM. The Lodge has a section of limited camping/outdoor gear if you forget anything and was a good place to get more sunscreen.
Drove back to the Hostel, where we ordered Pizza for dinner and had even MORE HUCKLEBERRY ICE CREAM. It was definitely a two ice cream day!
Glaciers visible from the Many Glacier hotel Parking Lot and Ranger Station:
North Swiftcurrent Ice Field *
Wilbur Mountain Snowfield *
*no longer glaciers….
We also saw the Jackson Glacier from the road earlier in the week, making our total count (6). I didn’t see any Glaciers the last time I was here so I made a pretty big deal about seeing them! Scientists have thrown various predictions out there, but they will be gone and melted in my lifetime, so it was an especially sweet honor to see them while we had the chance.