4 votes

Grinnell Lake

Kalispell, Montana 59901 USA

  • Independent
  • Not Wheelchair
  • No Wifi
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“A gorgeous glacier-fed lake”

"The Grinnell Glacier Trail is one of the most scenic hikes in Glacier National Parks. When hiking the Grinnell Glacier Trail, a hiker will pass by crystal clear mountain lakes, towering mountains and will have the unique opportunity to stand on a glacier if one chooses. The trail runs for 6 miles and has a vertical gain of 1600 feet. The first two miles of the trail are essentially flat. Beyond that, the trail has a gradual incline up to its end. The trail ends at Upper Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier at the base of the continental divide. The Grinnell Glacier Trail begins in the Many Glacier Valley. The trailhead is located just down the road from the Many Glacier Hotel at a picnic area. The trail first follows the shoreline of Swiftcurrent Lake for about a half-mile. It soon emerges onto the shores of Lake Josephine. From here, the Grinnell Glacier Trail offers superb views for its entire length. The trail follows Lake Josephine on the lakes western shoreline, gradually increasing in elevation. Beautiful views of Mount Allen, Lake Josephine and Mount Gould surround the hiker on this section of the Grinnell Glacier Trail. Near the inlet to Lake Josephine, a spur trail leads down to Lake Josephine. Following this, the trail then begins a gradual but steady ascent towards Upper Grinnell Lake. The trail travels through open countryside, with no obstructions to the incredible views that surround the hiker. For the trails remaining length, a hiker is awarded with stunning views of Lower Grinnell Lake, Angel Wing, Mt. Gould, the continental divide and Grinnell Falls. Mountain goats are commonly seen and bighorn sheep can also be periodically spotted. Since the Grinnell Glacier Trail passes through excellent bear habitat, grizzly bears can frequently be seen below the trail.The Grinnell Glacier Trail has a "false ending" that some hikers take to be the end of the trail.  The trail comes up to a picnic area, complete with a pit toilet and log benches, about a half-mile from the trails end. To view the glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake, make sure you follow the trail up and over the rocky moraine beyond the picnic area. The short climb up over this rocky moraine is rather painful, as it is the steepest part of the whole hike. Thankfully, it is also just .2 miles long.Once a hiker reaches the end of the trail, they will be rewarded with beautiful views of a retreating glacier and a very cold, glacially fed high alpine lake. Upper Grinnell Lake is a relatively new lake, being formed by the melting waters of the Grinnell Glacier. The Grinnell Glacier has shrunk in size by more than 40% over the past thirty years and continues to shrink. Since Upper Grinnell Lake receives its water from melting glaciers, the water is milky white in color."

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Reviewed by
Tatiana Danger

  • Road Warrior
  • 1,169 Reviews
  • 887 Helpful
August 31, 2014
Rated 4.0

If you're not a seasoned hiker, this can be a bit challenging. But worth it, and the views are insane. I'd recommend booking the Many Glacier boat tour, if you're not up for walking the four miles.

Pro-Tip: Don't drink the water. Visitors have complained of intestinal parasites. Though I can't personally confirm that because I don't make it a habit to drink lake water from an ancient glacier.

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Donna Hull

  • Road Warrior
  • 39 Reviews
  • 22 Helpful
March 30, 2016
Rated 5.0

Although the Grinnell Glacier Trail offers a birds-eye view, you can still get your steps in by hiking to Grinnell Lake on a mostly level trail. Yes, you can take the boat, but that's cheating :-). The round-trip hike is about 6.8 miles and worth every step.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 42 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
August 22, 2018
Rated 5.0

The hike is well worth it!! Even if you have to take breaks it’s with it. We saw some 65+ year olds doing it.

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Grinnell Lake

Kalispell, Montana
59901 USA

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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