Glacier National Park gets its name from glaciers and ice-carved scenery. But to see a glacier up close requires hiking. For the shortest hike, go to Grinnell Glacier.
In Many Glacier, the 11.8-mile round trip Grinnell Glacier Trail launches from Many Glacier Picnic Area. After the trail crosses Swiftcurrent Creek, it circles the west shore of Swiftcurrent Lake. Then, a rough pavement path bops over a forested moraine to Lake Josephine.
At Josephine’s west end, the real climbing begins. Through layers of red rocks, the trail gains elevation while overlooking turquoise Grinnell Lake. After crossing under a waterfall, the trail steps up a rock stairway doused with water spray. Then, it switchbacks up a steep hillside of wildflowers to reach a cluster of large trees, a good place for a quick break.
For the last pitch, the trail steepens up a rocky moraine. Then, the ice pops into view. Icebergs float in upper Grinnell Lake. Above, the remnants of Gem Glacier and Salamander Glacier perch on cliffs. Giant Mt. Gould and the jagged Continental Divide backdrop the scene.