August 12-17, 2016 – Our preferred lodging in Glacier is Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge. We were in the older motel area, which worked out fine for us – they have ceiling and box fans, enough space for our packs, and after a day of hiking our needs are minimal (mostly a bed and running water). We also like the dining room for breakfast and dinner, and it’s nice not to have to move the car and try to find parking again. All the food was good, with hearty sides (the mac n cheese was particularly good), and local beverages. So, what trails did we do?
Iceberg Lake with a side trip to Ptarmigan Tunnel was our first hike of the trip. The trek up to the tunnel was a bit steeper than we anticipated (or maybe we weren’t yet acclimated to the elevation). However, the view from the other side was fantastic. There were still icebergs in Iceberg Lake, and wildflowers on the walk up. This hike is getting more and more crowded, so we advise an early start.
Swiftcurrent Pass is one of our favorite views in the park. This time we hiked up and down from the Many Glacier side. The trip up starts off nice and mostly flat, with a beautiful view of three lakes and rock walls. Once by the lakes there’s a bit of a river crossing, aided by a small wooden plank bridge. We saw a dipper happily fishing in the rushing water. After watching the bird it was time to begin the upward climb. The climb is definitely a trek, but the views are beautiful the whole way up. We also saw a marmot, a beautiful waterfall, and wildflowers. We decided to walk down tot he chalet since there’s a pit toilet there and water for sale. There were many people hiking across to the chalet, but fewer people going up and down our trail.
Cracker Lake is a beautiful blue lake surrounded by rock walls. The hike has a bit of an uphill midway through, but is not very strenuous overall. There are plenty of spots for photo breaks, including a little bridge over the river. The main downside of the trail is the first two miles follow a horse path; the same horse path that is used by the stables. Think 50+ horses, walking the same path daily, and doing their horse business. Pro tip – yes kids, that is not mud you’re walking through, and I’d be really careful not to lose a hiking boot in it if I were you.
The last trail we did in the park took us past Lake Josephine to Hidden Falls, Grinnell Lake, and Feather Plume Falls. We were able to beat the tour boat to Grinnell Lake and had a few moments alone (well, plus another group of three). The lake itself is beautiful, with a waterfall on the far side. Hidden Falls is also worth the small scramble up a short and steep trail (just before crossing a bouncy suspension bridge). Past the falls we turned towards Feather Plume Falls. This area of the trail was very quiet, with forest, a stream, waterfalls, and relatively fresh bear scat (though we didn’t see any bears). The final spot on the hike was an overlook of the falls, which are surrounded by cliffs.