On our last day in Glacier, we went up to the Many Glacier area of the park, which we had heard was fantastic. We were torn between the Grinell Glacier and Iceberg Lake hikes, and ultimately decided on the ten-mile round trip hike out to Iceberg Lake.
After the hour and a half up to Many Glacier, we parked at the historic Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and walked the short distance to the trail head. As this is a heavily trafficked bear area, we set out bear spray in tow and hoping to see some scurrying across the open fields as others have said they’ve seen.
The trail starts out with a climb of 250 feet over 0.1 miles, mostly over deep rock stairs, and we were told that this was really the only steep part of the trail.
The rest is a gradual incline that takes hikers up a total of 1200 feet over the next almost five miles. We certainly felt the incline, but if we didn’t know, we would not have thought we climbed that much! The trail is well maintained, very family friendly, and one of the busiest we saw in the park, so it conceals its climb well.
Much of the trail is out in the open, with short stretches shaded by trees. We noticed mostly because it was in the seventies the day we hiked it – probably the warmest day we had in the park. The views were worth it though!
Unfortunately, we did not spot any bears, elk, bighorn sheep, or any other animals we were told we might see in the wide open fields or running across any of the mountains. Perhaps we would have with binoculars, but again, the views were more than enough to make this trail worth it. We recognized the rocky enclosure that was to surround the lake off in the distance, so we kept feeling like we were coming right up on it, only to have several more miles to go. But the walk was enjoyable still, with the views getting more spectacular as we went along, including lots of my favorite wildflower, bear grass!
Finally, we started to catch a glimpse of the lake. It was some of the bluest, clearest water either of us had ever seen, with chunks of ice floating on top of it like little icebergs. The lake does not get too much sun, so ice remains well into the summer, and sometimes fall, after the harsh Glacier winters. We sat there for about an hour with many other families, eating lunch and sticking our toes into the freezing cold water. Two young guys were even crazy enough to dive into the water to reach one of the bigger icebergs! Overall, it was a sight to behold…
We then retraced the five miles we had come as we took in the scenery but also lamented that this would be our last day at this amazing national park. Though there is a lot in our great country we are still excited to see, we are already planning what we want to do the next time we are here…