Grinnell Lake Trail Glacier National Park ~ a slow hiker's guide™

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Grinnell Lake Trail is one of the easier trails in the Many Glacier area of Glacier Park

Many Glacier Trails Trail Map

Grinnell lake shore with view of salamander glacier

Grinnell Lake Trail


A slow hikers guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers
Available on iBooks wildflower book cover

A slow hiker's guide™ to Glacier National Park Wildflowers

Whitefish Pilot article on my Wildflower Guide.

Trail is slightly muddy in spots, teal color in lake from the lake shore is more visible this year. No more snow on the peaks across from the lake shore this year as of 7-21-13. Looks like GNP will be replacing the boardwalk in the next year or so as there are several piles of planks behind the boat house.

Trails around Josephine Lake to Grinnell Lake
North Shore Trail to Oastler Shelter / 1.7 mi.
Initial clearing scheduled for: 5/31/13
Recent storm raised creek levels over upper Josephine Board Walk 6/20/2013
Trail is clear of trees and snow, 6/19/13
So.Shore Tr. from Hotel to Oastler Shelter/ 2.0 mi.
Initial clearing scheduled for: 5/31/13
Trail is clear of trees and snow, 6/19/13
Oastler Shelter to Grinnell Lake (also Hidden Falls) 1.0 mi.
Initial clearing scheduled for: 6/14/13
Cataract Creek Suspension Bridge: Installed 6/7/13
Recent storm created flowing water over much of boardwalk area 6/20/2013
Trail is clear of trees and one snow drift remains near Grinnell Lake, 6/19/13


Trail notes are from the boat dock at the end of Lake Josephine

NPS Trail Crew Report
Trail is clear of snow and trees, 7/7/12
Oastler Shelter to Grinnell Lake (also Hidden Falls) 1.0 mi.
Clearing of downfall will begin in June 2012
Cataract Creek Suspension Bridge: Installed 6/15/12
Trail is clear of snow except a drift at Grinnell Lake, 6/23/12
Trail POSTED for bear frequenting 6/16/2012
North shore trail remains CLOSED due to bear frequenting, 6/22/12
NPS Trail Crew Report 9-30-11
Cataract Creek Suspension Bridge: Removed 9/28/11
Oastler Shelter to Grinnell Lake (also Hidden Falls) 1.0 mi. Cataract Creek Suspension Bridge: Installed 6/28/11. Trail has patchy snow. 6/28/2011

Lake Josephine Lake late summer with a view of Salamander Glacier nestled in the mountains. This is a three lake hike, it starts with Swiftcurrent Lake, the over a small ridge trail to Lake Josephine around the shore of this lake or across the lake if you are using Glacier Boat. Then into the woods for a short basically flat hike with one suspension bridge to Grinnell Lake. The first two lakes can be done as a figure eight going up one shore and returning on the other shore. With Glacier Boat as mentioned earlier being the third option. Well there really is a fourth but that is for those long range hikers coming down from Piegan Pass from Siyeh Bend to Many Glacier.

Grinnell lake shore with view of salamander glacier

You can see Salamander Glacier from Grinnell Lake but you cannot see Grinnell Glacier from Grinnell Lake. You can see all three glaciers from Apikuni Falls Trail, although you can't see all of Grinnell Glacier anywhere except for Grinnell Glacier Overlook or from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook which is a spur trail of the Highline Trail. (well you see see Grinnell Glacier from the tops of several mountains, but there are no designated trails to their summits.

The Grinnell Lake Trail is one of the easiest hikes in Glacier Park, particularly if you take Glacier Boat from Many Glacier Hotel.

For a much more challenging approach you can also reach the shore of Grinnell Lake by crossing the continental divide hiking the Piegan Pass Trail. From the current snow conditions hiking from Siyeh Bend on The Going To The Sun Road across Piegan Pass and down to Grinnell Lake won't be clear of snow until the middle of August, 2011.

NPS Trail Crew Reports changed radically for Grinnell Lake hike over a very short period of time but this trail is 2,500 feet lower then Piegan Pass. The most popular method of getting to Grinnell Lake is by way of Glacier Boat, then on to Grinnell Lake through the woods, which will most likely be wet and muddy for sometime.



I remember first seeing a print of Grinnell Lake in a photo taken from the Grinnell Glacier Trail & thinking what a poor color reproduction the print was of the color of the water in the lake. Well if you hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail you can see for yourself that glacier flur from Grinnell Glacier transforms the lake surface into an emerald color. From the shores of Grinnell Lake the emerald color of the water is not readily apparent. Cracker Lake water is a brilliant emerald color from the shore as well as from 4,000 feet above. Grinnell Lake Trail gets lots of hikers arriving in large groups by horse back and by boat. These group hikers arrive in waves and generally don't linger long at the lake shore.


Grinnell lake from grinnell glacier trail glacier national park

You can see Grinnell Lake and Gem Glacier from a short distance up the Grinnell Glacier Trail. It's well worth the extra effort to add this jaunt to the Grinnell Lake Trail. When you come back to the boat launch follow the board walk and then take the switch backs up to the Grinnell Glacier Trail. Looking at Grinnell Lake from the shore line and then from above is a very moving experience.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream.
Discover.”
    Mark Twain


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