Post Summary: Sun Point Nature Trail and St Mary Falls Trail
Crystal blue lake, towering peaks, and even some lake jumps? Sign us up!
If you’re looking for the quintessential summer hike in Glacier, you’ve found it here at Sun Point Nature Trail.
Not only is this Glacier hike easily accessible, but it’s also short, beautiful, and has several options for extending the trail and seeing more of the park.
We’re sharing everything we know about Sun Point Nature Trail is this post, as well as a detailed description of extending it to St Mary Falls Trail, Baring Falls, and even Virginia Falls too.
Let’s go exploring!
Hiking Sun Point Nature Trail (+ The Extended Route To St Mary Falls Trail)
Where is Sun Point Nature Trail?
Sun Point Nature Trail is located just off of the Going-To-The-Sun Road, in the Rising Sun area of Glacier National Park. This part of the park is known as the area “where the mountains meet the prairie“.
And driving along St Mary Lake, you’ll quickly see why. Tall golden grass blanket the surroundings, with incredible glacial-carved mountains in the distance.
Nearby attractions are Siyeh Bend to the west and Sunrift Gorge directly to the east. It’s easiest to reach if you are coming from the east entrance of Glacier National Park, which is via the St Mary Visitor Center.
Getting To The Trailhead
Sun Point Nature Trail is an excellent place to park and explore the St Mary Lake area because it connects to several other hikes in the area.
The parking lot is large, which is a nice relief from some of the other locations in Glacier! There are also bathrooms, benches, and places to sit down and take a break.
Here are the coordinates for the Sun Point Parking Lot: 48.676746, -113.5824579
From the parking lot, walk towards the southwest corner of the lot and you’ll see signs for Sun Point, St Mary Falls, Baring Falls, and Virginia Falls.
If you walk towards the southeast corner, you’ll see another trailhead for Sun Point Nature Trail. Either way will take you about the same amount of time and distance to Sun Point.
Distance From Sun Point Parking Lot: 0.2 miles, >50 feet elevation gain.
Distance From Sunrift Gorge Parking Lot: 1.6-miles round trip, 250 feet elevation gain.
The (Very Short) Sun Point Nature Trail
Technically, the trail to Sun Point is only 0.1 miles long. You’ll find yourself walking on an established dirt trail for a hot second, and before you know it, you’ve arrived!
Sun Point is a small peninsula on St Mary Lake that provides hikers with a spectacular panoramic view of the lake and the mountain range in the distance.
Really, you get more than 270-degrees of lake views, so make sure to pack that camera!
Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
Extending Your Hike To St Mary Falls Trail
Not ready to hike back and get back in the car?
Sun Point isn’t the only place you can explore from the trailhead!
There are several trails that connect to Sun Point, and in this post, we’re sharing an extension to the trail – all the way to St Mary Falls along the shore of St Mary Lake.
While there are shorter ways to reach St Mary Falls, we actually think that the extended version provides better views, and it passes one of our all-time favorite places in Glacier (hint: it’s a lake access and we’ll tell you more about it later on!).
(If you want the separate, shorter trail to St Mary Falls, click here for the official St Mary Trailhead)
If you decide to continue to St Mary Falls, you’ll be hiking among acres of burned trees that still stand tall and straight. It’s a bit spooky, but also beautiful at the same time!
In 2015, a wildfire burned through the area and cleared out nearly all of this part of the northern shoreline of St Mary Lake.
That being said, you’ll be talking the St Mary Falls Trail through tall dead trees, but thriving new underbrush will soon fill the forest once again!
The first major stop on St Mary Falls Trail is Baring Falls. Cross a very skinny bridge over Baring Creek and you’ll find a flat-ish area to view the falls. This is a popular place for hikers to rest and grab a quick drink of water.
Baring Falls is a pretty stocky falls, just about 30 feet high. Here, you can actually traverse climb on a pretty wide path and get up close next to the falls.
You can find that path on the left side of the falls (viewing it from straight on), and you can’t miss it. Many people like to walk on this path and take photos!
Continuing on after Baring Falls, the views are almost instantaneous. It reminded us of Iceberg Lake Trail, with beautiful mountain perspectives for a very large majority of our hike.
You will continue to weave in and out of the burned trees, but you’ll do it along the shores of St Mary Lake for a while.
After 2 miles on the trail, you’ll reach a section of the trail that intersects with other paths. You’ll see a sign that shows the distances to locations like St Mary Falls Parking Lot, Sun Point Parking Lot, and the falls itself.
Continuing to St Mary Falls from this point, you are on the official St Mary Falls Trail (rather than the Sun Point extension trail along the shores of St Mary). From here, walk a little less than a mile to St Mary Falls!
This part of St Mary Falls Trail is green and lush, lower in elevation and much cooler. You can tell you are walking out of the area affected by the wildfire, so you’ll find more shade and taller foliage.
Arriving at St Mary Falls
You’ll know you’ve arrived because you’ll turn a corner and hear the roar of St Mary Falls up ahead!
St Mary Falls is a 35-foot tall waterfall with a three-tier drop. It’s pretty tricky to spot the highest tier, but the lower two are clearly visible from the viewing area.
In the afternoon, the rock nearby provided ample shade, so we sat down among other hikers to take a rest and enjoy the sound of the rushing water.
Jump in St Mary Lake
Okay, the best part of taking the long route to St Mary Falls? THE LAKE JUMPS!
On our route to the falls, we noticed that there was an empty dock on the shores of St Mary. We took a mental note to return this way and feel the water, as it was a hot day and a lake jump sounded heavenly.
We were unsure what this dock is used for and when it’s used, but we saw no sign of commotion…so we decided to take a dip!
The water was shockingly cold at first, but we quickly got used to it as we jumped in over and over again. Being the end of the season, it felt like this was the epitome of summertime, wrapped up into a magical lake jumping session.
Do we recommend jumping into lakes in Glacier National Park? Absolutely.
Make sure you always swim with a buddy (safety first, this water can be shockingly cold), steer clear of boats on the water, and have fun!
Love Lake Jumps? Check Out Bowman Lake In Glacier National Park Too!
What To Pack On Your Hike To Sun Point Nature Trail / St Mary Falls Trail in Glacier National Park
When swimming in the mountains, we like to wear swimsuits that can be sporty, and also feel comfy under hiking clothes.
We saw a bear on Sun Point Nature Trail when we visited Glacier National Park. This is a prime place to eat and forage for berries, so you better believe you might see bears on this trail!
Always pack a can of bear spray and keep it available to use at all times.
Sun Point Nature Trail isn’t a technical Glacier hike. You’re wandering along a relatively flat path the whole way, and even taking off your shoes to jump in the lake!
Wear a comfy pair of trail runners like these ones from Teva, and you’re good to go!
There are several spots along this hike that are simply too beautiful for words. Convince your friends to do this hike next time they visit Glacier and snap some pics for solid proof.
Read More: 8 Genius Ways To Take Awesome Travel Photos
Sunscreen + Sun Protection
They don’t call it Sun Point for no reason! This trail to Sun Point and the extension trail to St Mary Falls trails the north shore of St Mary Lake, which gets ample sun exposure on those sunny summer days.
Protect yourself by wearing a lightweight, long sleeve shirt, slathering on lots of sunscreen, and packing a good hiking hat!
More Hikes In Glacier National Park
Want more trails to explore in Glacier National Park? Click below to see more photos and trail tips from some of our favorite hikes in Glacier!