The Iceberg Lake Trail
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
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.
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
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
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
View the Iceberg Lake Trail Photo Gallery
Hiking Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National
What kind of rain jacket to get for hiking...and why
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