Hiking Glacier National Park
The Iceberg Lake Trail

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

The Iceberg Lake Trail

Photo Use Guidelines

The Iceberg Lake Trail, as mentioned, begins in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier National Park. The Many Glacier Valley is located on the east side of the Continental Divide, to the north of St. Mary. As this area is located on the east side, this part of the park can get very windy at times. It is not uncommon at all to have to fight 40 mile per hour sustained winds at the base of the mountains, only to find the wind totally disappear as the hiker nears the Continental Divide.

Reaching the trailhead of the Iceberg Lake Trail is easy - just follow the Many Glacier Road (the only road that accesses this part of the park), all the way to its end. From there, the Iceberg Lake Trail makes its only true “climb” of the entire hike – a short 200 yard moderately steep hike. Once you’ve made it up this short little climb, take heart, as you’ve just put the hardest and steepest part of the hike behind you!

Photo Use Guidelines

Once on top of this little climb, the Iceberg Lake Trail runs through open terrain, above Wilbur Creek and the forests that surround it. As such, you get tremendous views on this lower section of the trail. Mt. Wilbur rises directly in front of you, while the Ptarmigan Wall makes its way down the entire western horizon. Mt. Henkel and Atlyn Peak are also an ever present sight, as it dominates over the hiker – rising directly above the trail.

After about a mile and a half, the trail begins to enter some scattered forests, although the view is in no way blocked. Soon there-after, the hiker arrives at a bridge that crosses Ptarmigan Creek. This is a nice little creek that runs all year long, fed as it is by Ptarmigan Lake. The creek marks the halfway point up to Iceberg Lake. And, as such, it is both a popular rest stop as well as being a convenient place to fill up any empty canteens or hydration systems that are running low on water.

Just beyond the Ptarmigan Creek crossing, the Iceberg Lake Trail meets up with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail. This trail leads, rather steeply, up to beautiful Ptarmigan Lake and beyond, including the unique Ptarmigan Tunnel.

Photo Use Guidelines

Beyond the junction with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail, the Iceberg Lake Trail continues very gradually increasing in elevation, makings its way through scattered forests that frequently open up to provide for some spectacular views.

The Iceberg Lake Trail continues through scattered forest terrain, very gradually increasing in elevation, for about another half mile. Then it emerges into the open, wind swept terrain, directly below the Ptarmigan Wall- which towers far above. The cliffs of the Ptarmigan Wall in this section are about 2500-3000 feet above the trail – making the hiker feel rather “insignificant.”

The trail continues to very gradually increase in elevation as it makes its way towards the lake and far below the summit of the Ptarmigan Wall. The views in this section of the trail are, quite simply, incredible. You can look to the east and see both the route you took to get up here and the whole Many Glacier Area. The Ptarmigan Wall rises directly above you, while Mt. Wilbur and Iceberg Peak lie directly in front of you – completely dominating the skyline. Also, this part of the Iceberg Lake Trail is an excellent place to view bighorn sheep.

After running for about two miles through this open terrain, the Iceberg Lake Trail at last begins to approach Iceberg Lake, with a very short, moderately steep ascent required to reach the highest elevation point on the hike. From here, it is just a simple and short walk down to the shores of the lake itself. The cliffs that flank Iceberg Lake are more than 3000 vertical feet in height – keeping the basin in shadows for virtually all of the year.

Conclusion

Overall, the Iceberg Lake Trail is a “must do” hike for anyone who wants to truly see the interior of Glacier National Park but doesn’t want to carry a heavy pack out on a multiple night backpack. The views provided by the Iceberg Lake Trail are nearly unrivaled in Glacier. Couple the awesome views with the excellent wildlife viewing possibilities available from the trail and you have the makings of a “perfect hike.”

Also View the Iceberg Lake Trail Photo Gallery


Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Boots : Buyers guide to getting the right boot for hiking
Hiking Socks : Guide to getting the right sock for hiking
Trekking Poles : Why you should use one when hiking

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