This is one of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park with its gentle climb with a lively stream in a beautiful gorge on the way through a rain forest to a high mountain lake with cliffs and waterfalls.
Mileage: 2.3 miles to the lake, 3.1 miles to the inlet, one way.
Elevation Gain: 505 feet
Maximum Elevation: 3,905 feet
Type: Out and Back
No dogs, no bikes.
How to get there: Take the Going-to-the-Sun Road to The Trail of the Cedars, it is across from the Avalanche Creek Campground. You should also note that this is an extremely popular area, which means parking can be an issue during the middle of the season of June through August.
The Trail: Begin at the Trail of the Cedars, where the path weaves through huge cedars and cottonwoods to Avalanche Creek. You will also notice the lush green of ferns and mosses growing along the forest floor. The boardwalk on this section of the loop encourages visitors to take their time as they pass through a habitat more normally found on the Pacific Coast. The humidity in this valley allows the cedars to grow to heights of 100 feet, and diameters of 4 to 7 feet. Some of the trees in this area are more than 500 years old!
From here, take the Avalanche Lake Trail which follows the creek to a stunning gorge.
This gorge was formed by the force of the stream cutting down through argillite beds, forming breathtaking bowls and chutes in the rock. The spray from the waterfalls gives the moisture needed for moss to drape the rocks.
The trail continues up the gorge, then through a forest of cedar and hemlock trees until it reaches the foot of Avalanche Lake. On three sides of the lake, you will see Bearhat Mountain to the east, Mount Brown to the west and numerous waterfalls gently cascading down from the cirque. You can enjoy the views and turn around or extend your hike a little further up the lake’s inlet along the western shore. Take care and Namaste, y’all!