5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park, and it greets most visitors shortly after they arrive from the western entrance.
This iconic lake is about 10 miles long, over a mile wide, and 472 feet deep, according to [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_McDonald). The lake "is a direct result of glacial carving,” according to [the NPS](https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/lakemcdonald.htm).
"High peaks surrounding the lake all show evidence of the power of glaciers to carve even the hardest of rock.
The powerful glaciers that carved the broad u-shaped valley that Lake McDonald sits in also carved smaller hanging valleys with wonderful waterfalls that are accessible by numerous hiking trails.” While you can easily enjoy views of Lake McDonald from the road, why not get out of your car and savor the experience a little bit longer? The Lake McDonald Trail runs along the northwestern bank of the lake, providing stunning views along its length.
In the grand scheme of Glacier National Park hiking, this trail is ultra-mellow.
If you hike the entire length out-and-back, you’ll cover 14 miles but only climb 1,300 vertical feet.
Hiking the entire length of the trail both directions may be a bit ambitious for the uninitiated, but since this trail is so straightforward, it’s easy to simply start at one end, hike as far as you’d like, then turn around and head back to your car whenever you’re ready.
As an added bonus, if you have access to two vehicles, you could choose to shuttle this trail as a flat point-to-point hike since there’s road access on both ends. Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_McDonald https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/lakemcdonald.htm