Hiking Glacier National Park
The Iceberg Lake Trail

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

The Iceberg Lake Trail

Photo Use Guidelines

The Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park is one of the “crown jewel” hiking trails in the park. To put it quite simply, the Iceberg Lake Trail offers one of the most scenic hikes you can find. And to top if off, the trail has to be one of the best designed hiking trails in Glacier National Park. While the Iceberg Lake Trail has a vertical elevation gain of 1200 feet, the trail has been designed to gain this vertical rise very gradually – almost imperceptibly – in most places. As such, hikers in even fair condition should be able to easily make the 4.5 mile hike up to Iceberg Lake.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the Iceberg Lake Trail provides some of the finest wildlife viewing opportunities in Glacier National Park. The trail passes through A+ terrain for grizzly bears. If you are in search of seeing grizzly bears, this trail is a very good one to use to find them. Other wildlife commonly seen on or around the Iceberg Lake Trail are bighorn sheep, mountain grouse, ground squirrels and the occasional mountain goat.

Photo Use Guidelines

The Iceberg Lake Trail, as it is both easy and incredibly scenic, is very popular – especially during the summer months. As such, hikers in search of solitude are not likely to find it on this trail. However, even though you may not find true solitude, the views and wildlife viewing opportunities on this trail are so great that you should not pass up a chance to take a stroll up to Iceberg Lake.

This section of Big Sky Fishing will cover the Iceberg Lake Trail in detail. The first section provides a quick overview. The second section lists items to bring on this hike. And the third section (on the next page) will detail the trail and hike itself. A photo gallery of 30 photographs is also available (See Iceberg Lake photo gallery).

Iceberg Lake Trail : Overview

The Iceberg Lake Trail begins in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier National Park. The trail is 4.5 miles long and has an elevation gain of 1200 feet. For most of its length, it passes through very open terrain, with only a few forested spots found in the middle section of the hike. Due to the open terrain, the views are unlimited.The trail itself ends at a lake called Iceberg Lake, was is fishless, by the way. The lake is named because of all the “icebergs” that float around on the lake. You see, Iceberg Lake lies deep in the shadows on the northern flank of Mt. Wilbur – receiving very little sun. As such, the lake develops a thick coat of ice during the winter that only slowly melts away during the summer. Nearby permanent snowfields also drop ice chunks into the lake, some of which can take weeks to fully melt. Thus, even in August, the lake is generally full of floating ice.

What to Take

The Iceberg Lake Trail is a very easy hike in comparison to other hiking trails in Glacier National Park. Still, due to the mountains and the Ptarmigan Wall which blocks all views to the West (thus, you can't see approaching storms), a hiker should be prepared for a few contingencies.

Photo Use Guidelines

First, any hiker should have a good rain jacket that can also double as a windbreaker. As the Iceberg Lake Trail lies on the windy east side of the park, the winds can really get howling at times. Even on moderately warm days, the wind can have a “bite” to it that requires the hiker to have something on to cut down the wind. A good rain jacket that is designed for hiking will serve this purpose.

Additionally, as the hiker will not be able to see approaching weather systems, anyone should have a rain jacket out of common sense. When it rains in Glacier National Park, the temperature can really drop. A good rain jacket can make the difference between just being “rained on” and staying dry instead of suffering from hypothermia due to exposure.

As the Iceberg Lake Trail is pretty short, two to three quarts of water is generally all that is needed. You can also refill your water supply if needed at Ptarmigan Creek, which the trail crosses about halfway up the trail. The best way to carry your water is to use a hydration system.

Other items to remember to take are bear spray (absolute must!), sunglasses (another absolute must), sunscreen, a lunch and, of course, a good camera with either lots of film or lots of memory cards for digital cameras. As the Iceberg Lake Trail can get a bit “toasty” at times during the height of summer, a dedicated pair of convertible hiking pants isn’t a bad idea, either. And, last but not least, always use a good pair of hiking boots, not sandals or sneakers, so as to save you the prospect of a long limp back to your car.

Next Page : Hiking the Iceberg Lake Trail : In Detail

Also View the Iceberg Lake Trail Photo Gallery

Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Hiking Socks : Guide to Getting the Right Sock for Hiking
Rain Jackets : What kind of rain jacket to get for hiking...and why
Trekking Poles : Why you should use a Hiking Staff when hiking

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