Glacier National Park
Snyder Lake

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

Snyder Lake

Snyder Lake
Photo Use Guidelines

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.

Nearing Snyder Lake
Photo Use Guidelines

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 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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