Grinnell Glacier Hike

Glacier National Park (USA)

Day hike to the impressive Grinnell Glacier.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
19 km
Ascent
638 m
Descent
638 m
Duration
4-5 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
2 km
Gradient
Grinnell Glacier Hike Map

The trip to the Grinnell Glacier viewpoint is one of the best day trips in Glacier National Park. This route features everything: wildflowers, alpine lakes, wildlife, vistas, and much more! It is one of the best trips in the park for someone looking to get close up to a glacier, too. The terminus at Upper Grinnell Lake features outstanding views of Grinnell Glacier.

Description

The route begins in a forested area. You can shave off a few miles by taking the boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine. Taking the boat is a fun experience, although hiking around the lakes provides excellent views too.

Be bear aware on this journey as the route traverses through prime grizzly habitat. Moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are sometimes spotted in the area, too. It is a treat when you get the chance to see these incredible animals!

The forest slowly transitions to an alpine environment where wildflowers dot the landscape. Magnificent Grinnell Falls will come into view shortly thereafter. You eventually reach the viewpoint of Lower Grinnell Lake, which is one of the best views on the hike. Standing high above the lake, you get fabulous views of the surrounding peaks. The sparkling turquoise water of Lower Grinnell Lake is a sight to behold.

The route features more climbing from here, but the destination is not far off. Arriving at the viewpoint is a surreal feeling. You have now arrived at one of the most precious spots in the entire park, and the hike to get there wasn't even too strenuous!

Take some valuable time to rest here, as you will not want to leave the peaceful setting. The views of the Garden Wall from this spot are spectacular. If you dare, jumping into freezing Upper Grinnell Lake will surely chill the bones! The proximity to the glacier from here is impressive.

On a separate note, hiking to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook on the Highline Trail will provide an epic bird's eye view of this area. Being able to access both viewpoints in the park is incredible. It's highly recommended to visit the overlook in addition to this route.

Once ready, retrace your steps back to the trailhead. The descent is nice and gradual.

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area