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St. Mary / Virginia Falls

Intermediate
 4.5 (74) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A highly-visited hike to a pair of powerful, rushing falls that make for a nice out-and-back route.


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Map Key

3.1

Miles

5.0

KM

Out and Back

4,841' 1,476 m

High

4,555' 1,388 m

Low

467' 142 m

Up

467' 142 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

44%

Max Grade (24°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Family Friendly While both falls are very popular with families, the trip to St. Mary Falls itself is wonderful and an easy outing.

Bring bear spray.

Overview

This is one of the more popular day hikes in the St. Mary Valley. The route starts with a descent before meandering on level ground to St. Mary Falls, then up Virginia Creek to the taller Virginia Falls. Both falls are great spots to take pictures and to let the mist cool you down on a hot day.

Need to Know

This trail is very popular during the summer, so plan on either coming early in the morning or in the evening or taking the park's shuttle.

Description

To access this hike, if driving, park at the signed parking lot just east of the shuttle stop. Follow the signs down the horse trail cutoff to the Piegan Pass Trail and head west until you meet up with the St. Mary Lake Trail. If using the park shuttle, take it to the St. Mary Falls Trailhead. Head southwest on the St. Mary Lake Trail, descending through the forest.

After strolling through the recent burn with new views for just under a mile from the St. Mary Falls trailhead, you'll join up alongside the St. Mary River and follow it up to St. Mary Falls with a bridge over the river. All of the falls and cascading pools make for a wonderful water feature that is intricate and fascinating.

From here, continue on the trail for another two-thirds of a mile up Virginia Creek to see more small falls that lead up to Virginia Falls. It is a fairly tall waterfall that plummets with great energy. Look for the viewing platform that can be accessed using a small spur trail that is worth the short stroll. An outhouse on the other side of Virginia Creek across the bridge is available as well.

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

Due to the recent burn, the forest has been replaced by wonderful forest flowers. Birding is great in this area and deer, bear, or moose may be seen.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jake Bramante

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 74 votes

#3

in St. Mary

#78

Overall
  4.5 from 74 votes
5 Star
59%
4 Star
34%
3 Star
5%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
1%
Recommended Route Rankings

#3

in St. Mary

#5

in Montana

#78

Overall
70 Views Last Month
3,623 Since Jun 14, 2016
Intermediate

16%
6%
75%
1%
1%
0%

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
St. Mary's Falls in the morning.
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
Virginia Falls from the viewpoint.  A lot of mist kicks up, so be prepared to get wet!
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
The trail as it passes through an area of new growth as the area recovers from old fire damage.
Sep 2, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT

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Check-Ins

Jun 15, 2021
matt lazio
May 2, 2021
Breck Tuttle
Oct 8, 2020
Betsy Munson
Sep 18, 2020
Katie Fitzgerald
Sep 15, 2020
Taylor Screws
Parked far away, saw two moose wading in St. Mary's lake 5mi — 2h 17m
Sep 11, 2020
Andrew Whitson
so glad to find parking. with the east side of the park closed it has been almost impossible. — 12h 00m
Sep 10, 2020
John Corbin
Sep 1, 2020
Matthew Silver