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Glacier National Park: Avalanche Lake

Hike through old-growth forests and climb 600 feet alongside a glacier-fed stream on this 4.7-mile out-and-back that ends on the shores of Avalanche Lake.

Rating

Beginning with a fully-accessible stretch of wooden boardwalks on one of Glacier’s most-popular trails, this 4.7-miler cruises a lush bottomland forest of old-growth cedar. The trail crosses Avalanche Creek—one of only a handful of glacier-fed streams in the park—and turns uphill on a more rugged path at the half-mile mark. After a series of steps, you’ll roll uphill along the edge of the creek through super dense stands of pine and rocky outcroppings. Take a few minutes to explore the some of the easy-access banks of the icy waterway.
It’s a steady climb until the forest opens up just 0.25 miles from the shores of the lake. The lake itself is 57 acres of cloudy blue water below a steep, cascade-bedecked headwall. Continue along the lake’s west side to a sandy beach at its head. There you can cast for cutthroat trout (check fishing regulations first) or hang out on log benches along the shore and just admire the view.
PERMIT: Overnight camping in Glacier National Park requires a backcountry permit. Check out the latest fees and more details at nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
MORE PARK INFO: Glacier National Park, (406) 888-7800; nps.gov/glac/.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

From the park’s west entrance, drive 1.2 miles and turn right at the T-junction with Going to the Sun Road. Drive 13.9 miles, past Lake McDonald Lodge, to the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trailhead.

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