Hiking in Glacier National Park: 19 BEST Family-Friendly Trails

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Montana’s Glacier National Park boasts over 700 miles of trails. Due to its northerly location on the Continental Divide, Glacier’s landscape consists of high rocky slopes, frigid Alpine lakes, beautiful waterfalls, dense forest, and wildflower-filled Alpine meadows. You can see all of this and more whilst hiking in Glacier National Park with your family.

Despite its mountainous landscape, you’ll have no problems finding the perfect Glacier National Park hike for your kids. There are tons of well-maintained, short hikes ideal for kids of all ages and skill levels. Glacier’s abundance of diverse natural beauty and wildlife isn’t reserved for the more challenging hikes, either! You can still see the best scenery from easier hikes.

This guide lists all of the best places for families to go hiking in Glacier National Park. All of the best hikes are listed in order of difficulty starting with easy trails for younger kids to moderate hikes for older kids. There are detailed trail descriptions for each hike including what parking and other facilities are nearby.

Keep reading until the end. You’ll find a list of the top tips for families hiking in Glacier National Park to ensure you have the best time on your family vacation in the great outdoors!

Glacier National Park sign with a rainbow abovePin

Hiking in Glacier National Park: Interactive Map

Below you’ll find an interactive map that highlights each of the trail recommendations made in this article. You’ll be able to see the relative distance to hikes, as well as other park highlights like visitor centers, etc.

How to Use This Map:

Click on any of the trail recommendations marked with the bed icon in this color. A popup will open discussing the hike in greater detail.

Clicking the star next to the name of the map will save the map to your google account. To access it later on a computer or your smartphone, open google maps and select “Your Places”.

Hiking in Glacier National Park: Trails for Younger Kids

1. Forests and Fire Nature Trail

  • Distance: 0.9-mile lollipop loop trail (approx. 30 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Camas Creek
  • Location: Forests and Fire Nature Trailhead

Some of the best hiking in Glacier National Park can be found on the many nature trails around the park. Forests and Fire Nature Trail is an easy hike near the North Fork Flathead River and Camas Creek Entrance. It cuts through forests and wildflower meadows and you can see out to the mountains in the distance.

The elevation gain on this trail is around 180 ft but it’s a gentle rather than a steep climb. There’s a small parking lot at the trailhead but if you’re looking for more facilities and bathrooms, head toward Lake McDonald.

Heather Thibodeau of NPM mom in Glacier NP sitting on a rockPin
Pic of NPM founder Heather Thibodeau exploring Glacier NP for the first time in the 1990s! You’re going to love this park, too!!

2. Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail

  • Distance: 1-mile loop trail (approx. 30 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Avalanche/Red Rock Point
  • Location: Trail of the Cedars Trailhead

This is one of two hiking trails in the park that is totally wheelchair accessible. It’s a great place if you want to use a stroller! Trail of the Cedars is a boardwalk hike with an elevation gain of only 60ft, so it’s great for kids of all ages.

hikes in Glacier National Park: boardwalk on Trail of the CedarsPin
boardwalk on Trail of the Cedars trail

This loop trail passes through giant red cedar trees and waterfalls cascading into Avalanche Creek. There’s an off-road parking lot at the trailhead and the closest public bathrooms are at Avalanche Campground.

hiking in Glacier National Park: creek in small canyon along Trail of the Cedars, Glacier National Park, Pin
small waterfall along Avalanche Creek on the Trail of the Cedars

3. Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail

  • Distance: 1.1-mile out and back trail (approx. 30 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Two Medicine
  • Location: Running Eagle Falls Nature Trailhead

Located on the west side of Two Medicine Entrance, Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail is the second hike that is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. It’s well-maintained and lined with ferns, shrubs, and dense forest.

At the end of this great hike, you can see a double waterfall pouring into Two Medicine Creek and a lovely view of the mountains nearby. The total elevation gain on this trail is only 15 ft and there is parking at the trailhead. The closest bathrooms are at the Two Medicine Ranger Station where there is also a general store.

Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
scenery along the Running Eagle Falls Nature trail

4. Piegan Pass Trail to Baring Falls

  • Distance: 1.3-mile out and back trail (approx. 30 to 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Saint Mary
  • Location: Saint Mary’s Falls Parking Lot

Piegan Pass is a 16-mile point-to-point trail climbing 1,850 ft, so that’s not a great option when hiking in Glacier National Park with your kids! The best way to enjoy some of the scenic views on Piegan Pass is to just walk until you reach Baring Falls, which only has a 78 ft elevation gain.

Hiking in Glacier National Park: st mary's lake, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
You’ll have views of St. Mary’s Lake (above) along this trail

It’s an uneven path but follows along the banks of the beautiful Saint Mary Lake. As long as you and your kids are wearing sturdy hiking boots, you’ll be fine! The path ends super close to Baring Falls so you can feel and hear the roar of the waterfall.

Park at Saint Mary’s Falls Parking Lot and if you need extra facilities, there is a public bathroom just off the road between Saint Mary’s Falls Trailhead and Jackson Glacier Overlook.

Baring Falls, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Baring Falls

5. Mount Henry Trail to Appistoki Falls

  • Distance: 1.3-mile out and back trail (approx. 30 to 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Two Medicine
  • Location: Continental Divide Trailhead or Two Medicine Ranger Station

Hiking in Glacier National Park is a good reason to visit as many waterfalls as possible! Another beautiful one is Appistoki Falls which is just over a mile down the Mount Henry Trail. Even better, there’s only a 147 ft elevation gain on this trail.

It’s a rugged trail through a forest with rocks and plants, but doable with the right footwear. Not only can you see Appistoki Falls on this trail, but and the end it opens out to a clearing where you can see fur trees and mountains. There are a few parking options and bathrooms available at Two Medicine Ranger Station.

Mount Henry and Appistoki Mountain, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Appistoki Mountain and Mount Henry (via MONGO, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

6. Paradise Point Trail

  • Distance: 1.4-mile out and back trail (approx. 30 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Two Medicine
  • Location: South Shore Trailhead

Paradise Point Trail offers great views of Two Medicine Lake for minimum effort. It’s a super easy trail with only a 161 ft elevation gain so it’s perfect for hiking in Glacier National Park with kids. You will walk through a well-maintained woodland trail that opens up on the sandy shores of a beautiful glacial lake.

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Two Medicine Lake

You’ll have to walk on part of the Two Medicine/South Shore Trail to reach Paradise Point Trail but it’s super short and flat. The best place to park is around the South Shore Trailhead area and there are bathrooms at the Two Medicine Picnic Area.

Or, you can take a boat across the lake with the Glacier Park Boat Company! Book your round-trip tickets well in advance as they do sell out.

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Two Medicine Lake

7. Sun Point Nature Trail

  • Distance: 1.9-mile out and back trail (approx. 30 – 60 minutes )
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Saint Mary
  • Location: Sun Point Nature Trailhead

Sun Point must get its name from being the best place to watch the sunrise and sunset. The nature trail has a lookout over Saint Mary Lake which gives you unobstructed views of the water from both directions.

The Sun Point Nature Trail continues along the banks of the lake, only has a 206 ft elevation gain, and is less than two miles round-trip. The end of the trail cuts through a forest with lots of trees and shrubs so there’s a lot of diversity here.

There’s a huge parking lot at the trailhead. Bathrooms and other facilities are further up the Going-to-the-Sun Road at the Saint Mary Visitor Center.

sun point on sun point nature trail, glacier national parkPin
Sun Point on Sun Point Nature Trail

8. Rocky Point Trail

  • Distance: 2-mile out and back trail (approx. 45 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Apgar
  • Location: Fish Creek Campground

Walking around Lake McDonald would be incredible, but that trail is over 10 miles which is too long for little feet. If you’re looking for alternative easy day hikes in the area, check out Rocky Point Trail instead. It’s just off the North Fork Road and follows the banks of this scenic lake to a spectacular overlook.

lake mcdonald, glacier national park, montanaPin
Lake McDonald

It has a 350 ft elevation gain and the path can be a little rocky but it’s completely doable with frequent breaks to look at the view. You can park at Fish Creek Campground where there are tons of bathrooms.

lake mcdonald, glacier national park, montanaPin
Lake McDonald

9. Johns Lake Loop Trail

  • Distance: 2-mile loop trail (approx. 45 – 60 minutes)
  • Difficulty: East
  • Area: Apgar
  • Location: Johns Lake Trailhead

Another option for hiking in Glacier National Park with your kids near Lake McDonald is Johns Lake Loop Trail. This trail is in the upper part of the lake and loops around the small and serene Johns Lake which is a popular fishing spot.

This trail only has a 190 ft elevation gain and passes through woodland, on the banks of the lake, and over bridges on McDonald Creek. There is off-road parking at the trailhead and the closest bathrooms are at Avalanche Campground.

Avalanche Creek Picnic Area Glacier NPPin
Confluence of Avalanche Creek and McDonald Creek (GlacierNPS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

10. Two Medicine/South Shore Trail to Twin Falls

  • Distance: 2.3-mile out and back trail (approx. 60 to 90 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Two Medicine
  • Location: Two Medicine Boat Dock

If you want a real adventure whilst hiking in Glacier National Park, the hike to Twin Falls is an excellent opportunity. Park your car at the Two Medicine/South Shore Dock and sail along the lake to the Two Medicine Creek Boat Dock on the west side of the lake.

Once you’ve arrived, take the easy Two Medicine/South Shore Trail to Twin Falls. Without the boat shuttle, you will need to add at least four miles onto your hike!

This trail only has a 115 ft elevation gain and you can get right up to the cascading falls. Because it’s more remote, there are usually fewer people around too.

Twin Falls, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Twin Falls (MONGO, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

11. Swiftcurrent Nature Trail

  • Distance: 2.6-mile loop trail (approx. 60 to 90 minutes)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Many Glacier
  • Location: Swiftcurrent Trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel

Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is the last nature trail where you can go hiking in Glacier National Park with your kids. It’s a loop trail that follows the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake and it’s relatively flat with almost no elevation change.

Most of the trail is through woodland but there are several jetties and overlooks where you and your kids can stop to admire the lake views. You can either park at the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead, the Many Glacier Hotel, or the Swiftcurrent Trailhead next to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. There are bathrooms at the Many Glacier Campground next to the trailhead.

Swiftcurrent Lake Glacier National ParkPin
Swiftcurrent Lake

12. Hidden Lake Overlook Trail

  • Distance: 2.7-mile out and back trail (approx. one to two hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Logan Pass
  • Location: Logan Pass Visitor Center

Logan Pass is the highest point in Glacier National Park accessible by vehicle. No matter which hiking trail you choose in this area, you’re going to get great views! There is also a small nature trail that loops around the visitor center at the trailhead which you might like to check out first.

Hidden Lake Overlook Trail has an elevation gain of 540 ft, but it’s mostly gradual. Unlike other trails where you will go hiking in Glacier National Park, this path is mainly through open meadows as opposed to woodland. There are boardwalks to help you climb over creeks and rocky parts of the path.

This trail is in a super convenient location as the trailhead is at the Logan Pass Visitor Center which has parking and lots of facilities.

Hidden Lake, Glacier National ParkPin
Hidden Lake

13. Two Medicine/South Shore Trail to Aster Falls

  • Distance: 2.8-mile out and back trail (approx. one to two hours)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Two Medicine
  • Location: South Shore Trailhead

Yet another beautiful waterfall in the Two Medicine area is Aster Falls, which you can reach via the Two Medicine/South Short Trail. It has a 320 ft elevation gain and an uneven path through woodland but it’s a gradual climb and achievable with rest stops.

Park at the South Shore Trailhead or next to the Two Medicine Ranger Station where there are also bathrooms.

Aster Falls, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Aster Falls

14. Beaver Pond Loop Trail

  • Distance: 3.5-mile out and back trail (approx. one to two hours)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Area: Saint Mary
  • Location: Beaver Pond Trailhead or Saint Mary Visitor Center

Although it sounds like this trail loops around a pond, Beaver Pond Loop Trail is actually more of a woodland loop next to Saint Mary Lake with no pond in sight. It’s still a fantastic place to go hiking in Glacier National Park with kids and the trail’s 334 ft elevation gain is gradual.

You can either park at Beaver Pond Trailhead or a little further away at Saint Mary Visitor Center. Either way, you have lots of facilities super close by when hiking this trail.

Beaver Pond Loop Trail sign, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Beaver Pond Loop Trailhead

Hiking in Glacier National Park: Trails for Older Kids

15. St. Mary Falls Trail to Virginia Falls

  • Distance: 3.8-mile out and back trail (approx. two to three hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Saint Mary
  • Location: Saint Mary’s Falls Parking Lot

Being able to see two waterfalls for the effort of one hiking trail is a good kind of math! Follow the St. Mary Falls Trail first to the waterfall this trail is named after and then carry on to Virginia Falls. Although the trail is almost four miles long and is rocky in parts, it only has a 110 ft elevation gain.

st mary's falls glacier national park, montanaPin
St. Mary’s Falls

Both of these waterfalls are amongst the most scenic in the park so it’s one of the top places to go hiking in Glacier National Park as a family. You can park at the Saint Mary Falls Parking Lot. If you need a bathroom, continue down the Going-to-the-Sun Road toward Jackson Glacier Overlook and you’ll find one at a cutoff en route.

virginia falls glacier national park, montanaPin
Virginia Falls

16. Swiftcurrent Pass Trail to Redrock Falls

  • Distance: 3.7-mile out and back trail (approx. two to three hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Many Glacier
  • Location: Swiftcurrent Trailhead

If you were to hike the entirety of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, you’d be walking for 13.7 miles! It is one of the highest-maintained trails in Glacier National Park and also one of the most popular trails for avid hikers.

Instead, choose a more family-friendly option and only follow the trail as far as Redrock Falls. It’s less than four miles and only has a 242 ft elevation gain. You’ll walk alongside Swiftcurrent Creek and around the scenic Redrock Lake too.

Park at Swiftcurrent Trailhead next to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. There are bathrooms at the Many Glacier Campground next door.

redrock falls glacier national park, montanaPin
Redrock Falls

17. Upper McDonald Creek Trail

  • Distance: 5-mile out and back trail (approx. two to three hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Apgar
  • Location: McDonald Creek Cutoff

Although five miles is perhaps too long for younger kids to hike, Upper McDonald Creek Trail still only has 213 ft of total elevation gain. This could still be an option if you have kids of various ages and abilities. It’s a rocky trail following the banks of the creek surrounded by tall fur trees which looks gorgeous in the fall.

The best place to park is at the McDonald Creek Cutoff near the bridge. The closest bathrooms are at Avalanche Campground.

trail alongside McDonald Creek, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
McDonald Creek Trail

18. Avalanche Lake Trail

  • Distance: 5.9-mile out and back trail (approx. three to four hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Avalanche/Red Rock Point
  • Location: Avalanche Campground

The last two trails to go hiking in Glacier National Park on this list are a little tougher. They’re probably better suited for teenage kids, especially Avalanche Lake Trail which has an elevation gain of 575 ft. It follows Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Lake, an incredibly scenic glacial lake. On a clear, calm day you can see the mountains reflect perfectly in the water.

You can park at Avalanche Lake Trailhead or the campground next to it to enjoy this rewarding hike. There are bathrooms in the campground and also on the trail close to the lake.

Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Avalanche Lake

19. Grinnell Lake Trail

  • Distance: 6.9-mile out and back trail (approx. three to four hours)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Area: Many Glacier
  • Location: Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel

Thanks to its vibrant turquoise color and location nestled between mountains and alpine trees, Grinnell Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Glacier! It’s the perfect place to go kayaking, paddling, and hiking. Grinnell Lake Trail has only a 60 ft elevation as you’ll be skirting the edges of Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to get to Grinnell Lake. Note: this is NOT the same as the Grinnell Glacier Hike!

You can park at Grinnell Glacier Trailhead or the Many Glacier Ranger Station. There are public bathrooms at the Many Glacier campground if you need them.

Grinnell Lake trail, Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
Grinnell Lake Trail

Hiking in Glacier National Park: Trails That Aren’t Ideal for (Most) Kids

Many people hiking in Glacier National Park want to climb the most popular hikes. Often, these are challenging peaks. It is a super mountainous area, after all! But they aren’t suitable for 99% of families.

Some of the only exceptions would be if you are visiting the park with your older, teenage kids. They’d need to be pretty active and adept at hiking at higher elevations, along ridges, and through mountain passes.

You know your kids better than anyone else. If this rings true to you, then check out the best day hikes in Glacier National Park!

  • Siyeh Pass Trail: This strenuous hike weaves 8.9 miles through the Siyeh Bend between Goat Mountain and Baring Creek. With a 2,090 ft elevation gain, it’s one of the easiest mountain pass trails which isn’t saying much!
  • Ptarmigan Trail: Running between Ptarmigan Wall and Crowfeet Tunnel, Ptarmigan Trail is a 10.5-mile out-and-back trail with switchbacks and a 2,492 ft elevation change. It passes through the Ptarmigan Tunnel, a passage through the rock face. You can also check out Iceberg Lake is down a spur trail of the same name.
  • Cracker Lake Trail: Hiking 12.6 miles up 1,400 ft is tough, but Cracker Lake is a gorgeous minty blue glacial lake which makes it all worth it. You can stay overnight at Cracker Lake Campground before heading back in the morning.
  • Quartz Lake Loop Trail: This 12.7-mile loop trail in West Glacier offers views of three Glacier National Park Lakes: Bowman Lake, Quartz Lake, and Lower Quartz Lake. With a 2,621 ft elevation gain, it’s not a walk in the park!
  • Highline Trail: This is one of, if not the, most popular and favorite hikes amongst hikers in Glacier National Park. It’s a 15-mile out-and-back trail climbing 3,600 ft. You can also take The Garden Wall spur trail to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook which has the best views of Upper Grinnell Lake. Plus, you can break up the trail by staying overnight at the Granite Park Chalet.
  • Gunsight Pass Trail: One of the most challenging trails for hiking in Glacier National Park, Gunsight Pass Trail is a 19.6-mile point-to-point trail which means you’ll need two cars or use a shuttle bus. The trailhead is at Lake McDonald Lodge and it’s the only trail that passes the scenic Gunsight Lake.
NPS Glacier National Park entrance signPin

Tips for Families Hiking in Glacier National Park

  • Stop at a Ranger Station or Visitor Center: It’s always a good idea to check in with park rangers before hiking to find out about weather conditions and trail closures. Glacier has three visitor centers (Mary Lake, Apgar Wilderness, and Logan Pass Visitor Center) and seven entrances (Camas Creek, Cut Bank, Many Glacier, Polebridge, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and West Entrance). If you want to camp overnight in Glacier, get a backcountry permit from one of the visitor centers or ranger stations.
  • Visit in the Summer Months: Glacier National Park is technically open year-round. However, heavy snowfall forces many areas of the park and main roads (including the Going-to-the-Sun Road) to close. Most of the snowplowing is completed by late June/early July, but it’s best to plan your visit from late July to September for the warmest weather.
  • Prepare for Bears and Other Wildlife: While hiking in Glacier National Park, you will no doubt see some wildlife. Thankfully, you’re more likely to see birds and insects than some of the major predators roaming the mountains! Glacier is home to mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, mountain lions, and bears including both grizzly bears and black bears. Stick to the trails, hike in a group of 3 or more, and dispose of your food safely. Carry bear spray, and learn how to use it first.
  • Pack the Family Hiking Trip Essentials: Always pack plenty of water, trail snacks, insect repellent, and sunscreen. The weather can be pretty cold in the mornings and evenings so pack lots of layers if you’re planning an early start on any of your hiking days.
  • Visit Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada: The mountains of Glacier National Park cross the Canadian Border and the area is known as Waterton Lakes National Park. You can easily explore more of North America since you’re already in Montana and turn your family vacation into an international national parks road trip!
NPM founder Heather Thibodeau in Waterton Canada just north of the parkPin
NPM founder Heather Thibodeau standing on a windy 1990’s afternoon in beautiful Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Pin this Glacier NP hiking information for later! And if you found this article helpful, leave a comment on the pin. That helps others decide whether to use this information, too!

19 BEST Family-Friendly Hikes in Glacier National Park, MontanaPin
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About Rebecca Sharp

Rebecca Sharp is a freelance writer who splits her time between Utah and the UK where she’s from. When not writing about or exploring national parks, she likes to write about and explore filming locations and film festivals on her blog, Almost Ginger.

She has a master’s in Creative Writing and her work has been featured in Hostelworld, Mashable, BBC Radio, and the Zero to Travel Podcast. Rebecca wants to encourage armchair travelers to get off the couch and turn their silver screen dreams into reality.

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