Snyder Lake lies in a basin surrounded by towering mountains. Compared
to other backcountry lakes in Glacier National Park, Snyder Lake is fairly
easy to reach. While the hike up to Snyder Lake requires some vertical,
unlike its neighbor Avalanche Lake, the trail is pretty tame for most
of its length and has a gradual vertical rise.
Snyder Lake offers easy fishing for small cutthroat trout in a scenic
environment. No lunkers will be found here. Instead, plenty of small
(8 inch range) cutthroat trout inhabit this pretty little lake. Virtually
any dry fly that is presented halfway decently will work just fine for
catching these eager little trout. Spin fishermen will have luck with
small spinners as well as live bait.
Snyder Lake receives quite a bit of use. Its location just up the trail
from the very popular Lake McDonald Lodge invites lots of hikers up to
see this scenic lake. As a result, at least during the summer, expect
to see lots of day hikers making the 4.5 mile trip up the trail. Snyder
Lake also has a small backcountry campground, 3 tenting areas, which
is generally full during the summer as well.
The trail up to Snyder Lake is 4.5 miles in length. The first 1.5 miles
of the trail is the worse. In this stretch, the trail - which is called
the Sperry Trail at this point - climbs quite steeply up and away from Lake
McDonald. It has a number of switchbacks and is not a very scenic
hike as it winds its way through dense forests up the steep slope of
the mountains. Snyder Creek, which offers poor fishing for small cutthroats,
will frequently be heard down in the canyon below.
After the first 1.5 miles, the trail levels out to a much more gradual
and pleasant gradient. Once the trail levels out, the Mt. Brown Lookout
Trail cuts off to the left. Unless you enjoy lots of vertical and numerous
switchbacks, make sure you don't end up on this trail. While the Mt.
Brown Lookout Trail is only 3.7 miles long, the trail is all up hill
with a frequently steep gradient.
Not more than a easy 3 minute walk down from the Mt. Brown Lookout Trail
origin lies the Snyder Lake Trail. The sign is easy to miss. If you end
up on a bridge crossing a nice creek (Snyder Creek), then you know you
have missed the trail by about a ¼ mile.
Snyder Lake provides for relatively easy wading, although the water
is quite cold. The hike, while not grueling, is long enough to make it
doubtful whether or not you want to pack up a float tube.
The Snyder Lake Trail itself is a pleasant, quite easy walk. It gains
about 1000 feet of vertical over the course of 2.5 miles, making for
a very gradual elevation gain. Hikers in good shape can, for the most
part, walk a normal pace up this nice trail. The hike for the first two
miles isn't the most scenic, as it cuts through very brush and forested
terrain. Once the trail nears the lake, the countryside opens up a bit,
allowing for nice views. The trail itself then dead-ends at Lower Snyder
Lake, which is where the campground is also located. For the adventurous,
some bushwhacking up a fairly steep slope alongside Snyder Creek will
take the hiker to Upper Snyder Lake.
Grizzly Bear encounters on this trail are rare, at least in comparison
to other hiking trails in Glacier National Park. Still, the trail does
cut through nice bear habitat, so it doesn't hurt any to bring your bear
spray if you have it.
Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National
Boots : Buyers guide to getting the
right boot for hiking
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