Many Glacier Drive and Hike

Deciding to hike over in Many Glacier area is why we relocated and left our wondful river site. Headed SE to Summit campground.  That moved us 2 hours closer but was still another bumpy and bouncy 2 hour drive to make our way up into the park’s Many Glacier entrance.  We relocated in the afternoon to venture out at 8:30 am to Many Glacier. The drive included a brief stop at St. Mary’s visitor center and free WiFi.  We still needed to get an offline copy of the food allowed across the Canadian border and the Pet requirements.  Finding a couple nights worth of stops between here and Coeur d’Alene and then up to Banff also needed internet time. Got a start on all the above but unable to finish…this WiFi wasn’t as slick and fast as the Apgar center WiFi. 

Highway drive through Two Medicine Junction area

Before that was a Two Medicine river nice overlook at the river and mountains.  Followed by several smiles of new road construction made the journey slower than anticipated.

The road into Many Glacier was TERRIBLE.  The trail head parking lot was very full but we squeezed in a roadside spot, found the restrooms, and got ready to head out.  All Trails states 9.7 miles; I recorded 10.3 total. Not sure if that was just additional wandering or the 9.7 doesn’t include the short nature trail at the very beginning of the route.

Grinnell Glacier Trail

The first mile was very easy. The 2nd mile started a gradual climb but still easy.  The decision point arrived at the trail fork.  Continue onward to the hard 3.5 miles or stick to another 2 easy miles.  The level of effort usually equals the reward…so I opted to move on to the 3.5 more miles and a planned 10+ mile round trip. The distance wouldn’t be a problem, the elevation gain and climbing would.


Along the way up we caught a glimpse of small brown bear snacking but no mama bear was seen. Whew.  He was a little far and mostly hiding in the shrubs makes for lousy picture opportunity.

Saw a doe pop her head up and confirm we were non-threats.  Saw her again much later on the way back.

Doe next to trail

As we progressed into more rocky cliffs, a small crowd was watching a group of mountain goats up in a small cave.

Mountain goats watching all us hikers and wondering when we’d leave town

At the end of the trail were a pair of big horn sheep.  Mostly eating although there also a little butting going on…they were close to the trail area. Since I didn’t want to get butted I stayed out of range.

Big Horn sheep at Upper Grinnell lake

Now the coolest wildlife encounter was on the return trek.  Our early sighting of the cliff dwelling mountain goats, 2 adults and 2 babies, were blocking the trail and not too eager to mosey out of the way.   By the time a few minutes had passed we had about 4 groups of hikers backed up.  With the baby goats somewhat retreated, Steve and another man walked closer encouraging the group to move off the trail. They slowly did although completely on their terms!

Big mountain goat making sure the family dinner wasn’t getting interrupted

Cheryl’s first glacier encounter

Grinnell Glacier is a worthwhile hiking destination. The trail ends at Upper Grinnell Lake; Turquoise speckled with ice is a view I could stare at for a long time.  The trail was busy, the top at the glacier was busy but at the moment I only had eyes for the glacier lake’s beauty.

Turquoise pool & floating ice – Polar Beat plunge anyone?
Upper Grinnell Lake sitting below Grinnell Glacier

Along the way into the trailhead we drove past Sherburne Lake and followed that with hiking past Swiftcurrent Lake, Lake Josephine, and as we climbed the mountain, we passed over Grinnell Lake.

Top of the hike valley view with Grinnell Lake being nearest lake
Grinnell Lake