“An out-and-back hike to Iceberg Lake with ample opportunity to see a variety of Glacier's megafauna!
— Jake Bramante
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
With icebergs drifting on an emerald lake surrounded by cliffs rising more than 2,000 feet above the water, this hike is a visitor favorite for a very good reason.
Need to Know
The trail is very busy in the summer, so an early start is recommended. Always bring a warm hat and gloves as well as a rain jacket as travel through this area, even on a hot summer day, can change quickly. Make sure that you either purchase or rent bear spray. It can be rented in Apgar Village.
To access this route, take the Many Glacier Road to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking area. Turn right just after the inn and follow the road to the Iceberg Lake/Ptarmigan Tunnel
trailhead. (Parking at the trailhead is limited, so you may have to park at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn parking lot and follow the road to the trailhead on foot).
Although the first two-tenths of a mile climb at a fairly steep grade, the trail quickly flattens out, becoming a nice, gradual incline taking you to broad meadows. Keep an eye on the meadows along the slopes above and below the trail, as this area is frequented by bighorn sheep and grizzlies. Occasionally you can see mountain goats in the rockier cliffs higher up.
The trail heads into the forest with scattered views as you go by Ptarmigan Falls at mile 2.6, which you can see through the vegetation. Beyond the waterfall, continue past the Ptarmigan Tunnel
Trail which breaks off to the right, to the Iceberg Lake Trail
From here, the trail eventually breaks out of the trees and heads through avalanche chutes and meadows. Wilbur Creek creates a waterfall at the head of the drainage and flows below the trail. As you head into the basin, you pass a beautiful small pond surrounded by flowering meadows in early to mid-summer. Continue on over the rise. As you drop towards the towering rock walls, Iceberg Lake becomes visible. In the cooler, earlier months much of the lake is frozen, with scattered icebergs throughout.
As summer months begin to get warmer, the icebergs will separate and float freely on the top of the water. During rare years with higher-than-normal temperatures, the icebergs can become completely melted.
From Iceberg Lake, head back the way you came to your vehicle.
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
Meadows house numerous flowers while the forest is dotted with others. Near the lake, glacier lilies, fleabane and a wide variety of other flowers create a stunning display. Moose can be seen in the drainages below feeding on willows while grizzlies and bighorn sheep graze in the meadows. Mountain goats can be seen on the cliffs above.
History & Background
The beginning of the trail is very steep compared to the rest of the trail as this is a cutoff trail. The trail originally started at the Many Glacier Hotel
. While that trail still exists, it is closed much of the season for bears to forage for the abundant food sources in that area.