Post Summary: Everything To Know About Iceberg Lake Trail in Glacier National Park
Floating ice chunks on the lake in the summer? Only in Glacier National Park!
Iceberg Lake Trail is one of the best hikes in Glacier National Park for its sweeping views, trail interest, and a high potential for bear sightings!
If you’re looking for a Glacier day hike to stretch your endurance and skill (it’s nearly 10 miles total!) you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, we’re sharing all the details of our epic hike on Iceberg Lake trail, and how you can prepare for this amazing Glacier hike too.
Let’s get outside!
Iceberg Lake Trail: Glacier National Park
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Iceberg Lake Trail Details
- Distance: 9.7 miles out-and-back
- Elevation Gain: 1,275 feet
- Location: Many Glacier Area in Glacier National Park
- Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (not a technical trail, just very long!)
Getting To The Iceberg Lake Trailhead
Iceberg Lake Trail is located in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park.
If you’re using Google Maps (first, read this post on how to download offline maps and find other helpful road trip planner tools!), you’ll want to put in directions to Ptarmigan Tunnel trailhead. Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel share the same trailhead.
Arrived and found the lot full? Go ahead and park in the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot. It will only add 0.2 miles to your trip.
Take a little bit of time before your Iceberg Lake hike and make sure to pack your bag properly. Keep water and bear spray where you can easily reach it and a hat and sunscreen at the top of your bag.
Looking to camp nearby the Iceberg Lake trailhead?
It’s no surprise that Glacier campsites fill up FAST.
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Some Other Essentials To Pack For Your Iceberg Lake Hike:
- Plenty of water. We use Nalgene bottles because they are virtually indestructible.
- Sun Protection. Sunglasses, a hat, and even a bandana for your neck.
- Consider long sleeves! A lightweight, long sleeve shirt can actually be more cooling than a short sleeve shirt in the sun.
- Sturdy hiking shoes.
- Day Pack full of the best hiking snacks out there!
Beginning The Iceberg Lake Trail
The steepest part of this hike is right away, gaining 200 feet in less than a quarter of a mile. Once you climb that elevation though, you are rewarded with stunning views almost immediately afterward.
The views are not in short supply, either! You will have this view for the majority of the hike, with small covered sections weaving in and out of the forest (more of that below).
Here are the peaks you’ll be encountering:
- 8851-foot Mount Grinnell
- 8436-foot Swiftcurrent Mountain (southwest view)
- 9321-foot Mount Wilbur (the tallest one)
- Ptarmigan Wall (northwest section of the trail, it looks like a jagged set of teeth)
Important Note: The first part of the trail is a prime location for bears!
We saw one within the first quarter-mile of our hike (we were talking loud and it was spooked. It scampered off before it could get close enough to us!) so it’s extremely important to pack bear spray with you.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask the ranger’s station about recent bear sightings. Better safe than sorry!
Halfway on The Trail (Ptarmigan Falls)
Once you reach nearly halfway to Iceberg Lake, you’ll spend some time walking under a canopy of pine trees.
You’ll also get a partial view of Ptarmigan Falls, although you don’t get quite as clear of a view as you’d expect. The trail wraps around to the top of the falls where you’ll cross a bridge from the stream that feeds Ptarmigan Falls.
This is a common place to stop for a break and even sit by the shore of the creek if you want.
Continue on the Iceberg Lake trail and out of the trees, you’ll begin to get a view of the towering cliff edges (Ptarmigan Wall) and the Gatorade-blue water below. It’s a motivating sight for sure!
Reaching Iceberg Lake – Glacier National Park
The trail will begin to descend to the lake at about mile 3, and you’ll spend some time walking through a lush meadow known for its brilliant summer wildflowers.
We came in the late summer/early fall, so many of the flowers were already gone, but we’ll have to do this trail again to see them in the springtime!
Once you walk about 1.5 miles from the forest opening, you’ll come to a fork in the path. Turn right for the victorious walk down to Iceberg Lake and turn left for the pit toilets.
The final steps of Iceberg Lake trail really does feel like a finish line at a marathon – the trail looks like it descends right into the lake! Similar to Hidden Lake trail, you get to see the view before you even reach the end!
Read About Another Amazing Glacier View: Hidden Lake Lookout
Jumping In Iceberg Lake
Fancy a dip in the water? Here are a few things you should know about Iceberg Lake!
The Continental Divide is to the west of the lake and Mt. Wilbur to the south, casting the lake in shade for the majority of the year. Some parts don’t even get sunlight at all!
The lake also sits at 6094 feet, but with the cliff walls extending even 3000 feet higher than that, the lake and its surrounding walls can be seen with accumulated ice year round.
Coming so late in the season, however, we just missed seeing ice chunks on the lake! We overheard other hikers saying we missed the last piece of ice on the lake by two weeks.
Come earlier in the season (June or early July) if you want to see those icebergs – it’s one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Glacier National Park.
Final Thoughts On Iceberg Lake Trail
Iceberg Lake Trail was one of the longest day hikes we’ve done, and it was a great introduction to and training for extended day hikes and overnight trips in Glacier National Park.
If you’re hoping to improve your hiking experience, we highly recommend Iceberg Lake hike. Sometimes we forgot that it was nearly 10 miles because we were having so much fun!
Love Hitting The Trails? Discover More Hikes In Glacier National Park Here!