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St. Mary Lake Trail

Easy
 4.0 (1)

A varied trail featuring waterfalls, big mountains, a gorgeous lake and a mix of old and burn forest


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Map Key

10.5

Miles

16.9

KM

Point to Point

4,854' 1,480 m

High

4,495' 1,370 m

Low

1,410' 430 m

Up

1,521' 464 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

29%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly The first section with St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls is great for the family.

Bring bear spray.

Description

This trail starts at the St. Mary Falls Trailhead. Parking here is limited, so it's better to park at the St. Mary Visitor Center and take the shuttle to the trailhead.

The mostly level trail starts out in the recent burn from the Reynolds Fire with broader views of fantastic peaks due to reduced trees. The trail then drops, intersecting the Piegan Pass trail and continuing on down to the St. Mary River. You follow the river up and get a great view of Virginia Falls with the bridge that goes over the river. Crossing the river, you stand right in front of the multi-pooled waterfall.

Continuing on, the trail meets up with Virginia Creek and follows it upstream in a series of wonderful cascades. After a couple of switchbacks, it passes by the Virginia Falls Viewpoint Trail. After taking that trail to get a close up of the falls, the trail continues with a distant view of the falls as a bridge takes you over the creek.

From here, the trail follows along the base of the mountains occasionally going over seasonal feeder streams racing down to St. Mary Lake. Intermittent, but plentiful views looking down on the lake are fantastic. The trail continues along bouncing back and forth gaining and losing a little bit of elevation.

About two-thirds of the way down the shoreline, a wonderful feature called Silver Dollar Beach comes into view jutting out to a narrowing of the lake. From there, the trail wraps around the northeast flank of Red Eagle Mountain. It climbs up through a burn area as it goes over a lower section of the ridge and drops to the Red Eagle Creek drainage, eventually joining up with the Red Eagle Trail.

This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to hike.

Flora & Fauna

Forest flowers such as fleabane and yellow columbine lead to geranium and asters in the burned meadows. Whitetail deer and bears may be seen along the trail in addition to squirrels and chipmunks.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jake Bramante

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#15

in St. Mary

#11255

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#15

in St. Mary

#238

in Montana

#11,255

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33 Views Last Month
1,322 Since Sep 3, 2015
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Photos

St Mary's Falls.
Jan 21, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
The trail as it crosses over St. Mary River.  There are beautiful views of the mountains through the burnt trees.
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
Virginia Falls.
Jun 2, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Trip video from Red Eagle Trailhead along the south shore of St. Mary Lake, past Virginia Falls and St. Mary Falls to the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Jun 13, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
St. Mary's Falls in the morning.
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
Looking down on Silver Dollar Beach from the St. Mary Lake Trail.
Jun 13, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT

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Check-Ins

Sep 7, 2019
David Swartwout
Aug 2, 2018
Eric Antonson
Jul 14, 2017
Jeff rardin
Jul 10, 2017
43 Joe
Aug 3, 2016
Kim Parker
4.5mi
Jun 20, 2016
Colin Pepper
Ably went as far as the lake for a nice dip. The water was so cold, and the view was hazed by smoke from the fires. A black bear walked by us, lol. 1mi
Mar 9, 2016
Lisarodg Marie
Beautiful.