• Gabriella Viola

Hiking to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park (2021)

Updated: Sep 16, 2021


Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park

Summer 2021 is off to a crazy start in Glacier National Park. Due to overcrowding, the park implemented a ticketed entry system for the busiest section of the park: Going-to-the-Sun Road and the attractions accessed from it, during prime park hours between 6 am and 5 pm.


But, if you want to skip all that ticket entry drama, then consider the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park. This section of the park does not require an entry ticket. Aside from that, it's home to two of the most jaw-dropping hikes in Glacier National Park. The Grinnell Glacier Trail and the Iceberg Lake Trail. This post will cover Iceberg Lake.


If you want to try your hand at obtaining the very difficult-to-get $2 entry ticket, here is the link. Don't worry if you can't get one. You can still drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road before 6 am or after 5 pm. We did it after 5 pm from the St. Mary's entrance, and it was a great time to go in terms of the lighting.


Now, on to Iceberg Lake!

 

ICEBERG LAKE HIKE STATS

  • Distance: 9.7 miles out-and-back.

  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet (roughly).

  • Location: Many Glacier Area in Glacier National Park.

  • Trailhead: Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier.

  • Length of Time: 6 hours (roughly)

  • When to Go: Mid-June through September

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging- due to length of the trail, possible snowpack, and a river crossing if the footbridge is removed. (It was removed when we went).


Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park

 

WHAT TO PACK

  • Sunscreen.

  • A hat for added protection.

  • Bear Spray.

  • Bug Spray.

  • A raincoat- weather can change quickly.

  • Snacks and water (enough for 10-miles).

  • If you are into photography, you'll want a telephoto lens for wildlife shots ( 400mm-600mm is best ). And a wide-angle for Iceberg Lake.


OTHER TIPS

  • Dress in layers.

  • Wear comfortable hiking sneakers or boots.

  • For photos, red and yellow clothing stands out. I wore blue- big mistake! 😝

  • We went at the end of June, and there were still large icebergs over much of the lake.


Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park

 

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD


The Iceberg Lake Trailhead is located behind Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park. To be on the safe side, I recommend getting there by 9 am. If you get there after 11 am, you risk not finding parking or being turned away at the entrance station due to overcrowding. We saw this happening to people on the return of our hike.


Cell phone service is spotty to nill; I recommend entering the location in Google Maps while you still have service. Just enter Swiftcurrent Motor Inn into Google Maps. Once at the Inn, you'll see signs for the trail.


Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park

Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park
Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier
 

STARTING THE TRAIL


Though not difficult, the first section of the trail is the steepest. Once you get through that short first section, the trail opens up to a fairly flat meadow with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. When we did the hike at the end of June, the meadow was filled with wildflowers. This area of the trail is a popular spot for grizzlies and bighorn sheep. We didn't see any bighorn sheep, but we saw a grizzly bear and her cubs in the far distance.


Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national Park
First section of the trail
Wildflowers along the Iceberg Lake Trail in glacier national Park
Wildflowers along the Iceberg Lake Trail
Wildflowers along the Iceberg Lake Trail in glacier national park
Stunning views about 1 mile into the trail
Iceberg Lake Trail
Grizzly mama bear and her cubs at a far distance

The photo above was shot with a 300mm lens which was clearly not long enough. But it gives an idea of how far away the bears were. They were also very good at camouflaging themselves.

 

HALFWAY POINT


About halfway through the trail (2.6-miles), you will arrive at Ptarmigan Falls. Ptarmigan Falls is a beautiful waterfall, but it's hard to get a clear view of it, as there are trees and cliffs blocking the view. However, it's a great spot to take a break, eat a snack, and snap some photos before continuing on the trail. From there, you'll cross over a wooden bridge and hike through a forested area before the trail opens again to views of Ptarmigan Wall (Iceberg Lake sits at the bottom of Ptarmigan Wall).


Ptarmigan Falls in Glacier National park
Ptarmigan Falls on Iceberg Lake Trail
Ptarmigan Falls in Glacier National park

Wooden Bridge over Ptarmigan Falls on the Iceberg Lake hike in glacier national park
Wooden Bridge over Ptarmigan Falls
Views of Ptarmigan Wall in glacier national park
Views of Ptarmigan Wall
 

REACHING THE LAKE


The last mile or so of the trail was covered in snow. It was a bit slippery at times but very doable in hiking sneakers. For some reason, the wooden footbridge that is usually laid across the river was removed, so we had to do a river cross. We walked over a wobbly log, but I saw other people take their shoes off and get in the water (it looked freezing 🥶).


As mentioned earlier, we did this hike at the end of June. If you hike it later in the summer, you might not have to deal with snow on the trail or a missing footbridge.


Eventually, we saw Iceberg Lake in the distance, which was very encouraging! When we arrived at the lake, we saw that it was partly covered in icebergs, which was pretty cool to see.


Icebergs on iceberg lake in glacier national park
Icebergs still covering the lake in June
Iceberg lake hike in glacier national park
The water was absolutely freezing 🥶
Iceberg lake hike in glacier national park

I did bring a bathing suit, but the water was waaaay too cold to even considered jumping in. I took my sneakers off and went in up to my ankles. It might have been the coldest lake I've ever dipped my feet in.


We ate lunch, soaked in the views, and took lots of photos before making our way back down the trail. On the way back, we got rained on for a bit and saw another bear!


Iceberg lake hike in glacier national park

 

WHAT'S NEARBY


GRINNELL GLACIER HIKE


I thought the Grinnell Glacier hike was not only the prettiest hike in all of Glacier National Park but perhaps one of the most stunning hikes that I've ever done!


I would have written a post on Grinnell Glacier, but unfortunately, I couldn't complete the hike due to excessive snow about two-thirds into the trail. There was also a big sign stating that hikers have died trying to traverse the snow, so I didn't want to take a chance without the proper gear (poles and crampons).


Regardless of not being able to complete the hike, it's still absolutely worth doing. The views we did reach were breathtaking.


The trailhead is located in Many Glacier just past the Many Glacier Hotel and comes up on Google Maps as "Grinnel Glacier Trailhead"


Grinnell Glacier Hike in Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier Hike in Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier Hike in Glacier National Park

MANY GLACIER HOTEL


Many Glacier Hotel is a great spot to grab breakfast and coffee before you set off on your hike, or lunch when your return. It's the largest hotel in Glacier National Park and looks like something straight out of Switzerland.



 

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:


For current conditions in Glacier National Park click here.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what some of your favorite hikes in Glacier National Park are in the comments!



 

Please enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

Always practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

 

You Might Also Enjoy:


Lake Tahoe in the Summer: 10 Adventurous Things To Do


Kayaking to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho


My Solo Road Trip Chasing Waterfalls in Northern Califonia and Oregon



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About Gabriella Viola

ABOUT

Gabriella Viola is a photographer and outdoor enthusiast currently living in Lake Tahoe, California. 

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