Our second stop along our Glacier National Park journey was the Many Glacier Valley. Leaving Two Medicine, you drive north and west for a little over an hour following Swiftcurrent Creek and Sherburne Lake, until you arrive at Swiftcurrent Lake and the Many Glacier Hotel. This is the jumping off point for the second leg on our trip.
Many Glacier Hotel sits right on Swiftcurrent Lake which makes it very convenient to photograph sunrise and sunset here. Both are good. The hotel is quite nice with newer comfortable rooms. There was food, but the pandemic procedures only allowed take out. Be warned, the parking lot is above the hotel and gives you a great view, but walking up and down 5 flights of stairs in altitude is hard, but it is a good preparation for your hiking lungs.
There are several waterfalls close by: Apikuni Falls, Swiftcurrent Falls, and Redrock Falls. Here is where the crowds and parking issues started to come into play. There is some parking near the trail heads, but the overflow parking is the hotel parking lot which will add a mile or more to any of the popular hikes. The key is to start as early as possible and get on the trails.
You can also cut off miles of the hike to Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier by taking the boat across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, but you need reservations and they fill up weeks ahead of time. So you hike.
Grinnell Glacier is 10.5 miles round-trip from the hotel with a 1,600 foot elevation gain. You will pass Grinnell Lake and end up at Upper Grinnell Lake which is at the foot of the glacier. It will take 4-6 hours depending on your ability. This may be the most popular hike in the park and it seems like there are a 1,000 of people on the trail.
At least when you get to the Upper Lake, there is plenty of room to spread out and enjoy a drink and a lunch.
The other great glacier and lake hike in the area is Iceberg Lake. The parking lot for the trail head is behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge and it is much less crowded than the Grinnell Lake trailhead. The hike is 9.3 miles with a 1,450 foot elevation gain and takes 4-5 hours to complete. Though this hike does not have the multiple lakes as does the Grinnell hike, it has some great views, creeks, and the Iceberg Lake is spectacular.
After a few days in Many Glacier, we are off to St. Mary and the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun road.
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