My friend Laura was coming to visit me and she had requested to see Glacier National Park during her stay, specifically to see glaciers. I obliged her, because I would be crazy to say no to revisiting this lovely park but sadly had to break the news about the glaciers. We could see them, but it would take some pretty hefty hiking to get to one.
While planning activities for us I found a moderate hike to Iceberg Lake, that could give us the opportunity to see at least an iceberg floating around a lake. Laura agreed to the hike and I put it on our to do list for our trip.
The day of our hike we could not have asked for better weather, sunshine and unbelievable blue skies. The hike started off zig-zagging up the hillside behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. The climb is a quick one as you gain 185 feet (56m) in about a ¼ mile (.40 km). The trail levels out after the initial climb and you are granted far seeing views of the mountains, lush scenery and Ptarmigam Falls. The trail is located in known bear country and bears have been spotted frequently so it is recommended to carry bear spray and make lots of noise. We did not have bear spray but I had my bear bell rattling away as we made our way up the hillside. We did not see any bear along the trail but we did spot a black and brown bear near Many Glacier Hotel, which is close enough!
The trail is heavily traveled and well maintained for the most part. There were a few patches of snow still on the trail, in July, which added some difficulty as we traversed across the hillside. It was slightly traumatic for Laura as she is afraid of heights. I on the other hand do not have that problem, as long as my feet are firmly planted on the ground I am not afraid. Now if I’m in a helicopter, then I’m afraid!
As we made our final approach to Iceberg Lake I noticed that the icebergs were, much like the glaciers, not apparent. There was still a sheet of ice covering the lake, but I would not really consider that an iceberg. Nonetheless the lake is still beautiful and well worth the hike in.
We scouted out a spot to eat our lunch and watched the other hikers enjoying the lake along with the sunshine. We even witnessed some brave souls taking a swim in the chilly water. It may have been a warm sunny alpine day but it was too cold for this girl to dive in!
We found a spot near the lake to tear into our lunch. It’s just over a 4.5 miles (7.25 km) hike in so we were extra hungry. So hungry that I was not willing to share my lunch with our new friends, who apparently had been informed that we would be sharing our lunch with them!
It was now time to make our decent down to the parking lot. Luckily for us the scenery is somewhat unbelievable on this trail and kept us distracted while we completed an almost 10 mile hike (16 km) for the day. And for two people who aren’t avid hikers I think we did quite well considering!
If you would like to hike to Iceberg Lake you can find the trailhead behind the cabins at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. You will want to be sure to pay attention to the trail signs as there are a few different trails that branch off from this trailhead. The highest elevation on the trail is 6160 feet (1877 m) and gains 263 feet per mile (80 km) for a total 1275 feet (388 m) of elevation gain.