The Florence Falls
hike starts from the Going to the Sun Road at the Gunsight Pass Trailhead and leads to Florence Falls
. The trail starts from the Jackson Glacier Overlook, where stunning views spread out before you. Take a few minutes to enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains and Jackson Glacier. The trail drops over 500 feet from the Going to the Sun Road to the St. Mary River Valley. Along the way, you'll navigate a lush forest and hike beside Reynolds Creek. You'll encounter Deadwood Falls, a ten foot waterfall, before you cross over a suspension bridge that crosses the creek and travel through a shaded forest until you emerge close to the tranquil St. Mary River.
As you follow the river, views of Dusty Star and Citadel Mountain spread out before you. Take a moment to sit and listen to wind blowing through the trees, the water flowing past, and the birds singing in the trees around you. Animals can be seen throughout this area, including moose along the river, deer on the trails, and bears feeding in the vegetation along the trail. Make sure that you practice good bear safety techniques (traveling in groups, making noise, carrying bear spray). At roughly 4.75 miles, the trail to Florence Falls
breaks off to the right and winds through the woods until it climbs to the falls where you can enjoy a bite to eat. The views of the falls are great, and if you turn around, the views of the surrounding mountains are outstanding. From here, you can follow the trail back to the Going to the Sun Road or continue exploring the Gunsight Pass Trail
and the beautiful views of Glacier National Park.
In order to access the trailhead, you can park at the pullout for the Jackson Glacier Overlook or you can catch the park shuttle and have it drop you off at the same pullout.
The trail starts at the Jackson Glacier Overlook on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. There is a fairly large parking area where you can leave your car. Before hitting the Gunsight Pass Trail
, take a few minutes to enjoy the stunning views of Jackson Glacier and the surrounding mountains.
The trail drops down from the parking area and follows the road for a short distance before the trail starts to move away from the road. While you can still hear the cars for the first half mile or so, you can't see it due to the dense vegetation that surrounds the trail. The trail moves through the woods, which provide good cover during the day from the sun above.
Around 0.7 miles, the trail begins to near Reynolds Creek, and you hear it before it comes into views. The trail begins to open up at this point, and shortly after a mile, you come to Deadwood Falls, a 10-foot waterfall where you can sit and enjoy a snack before continuing your hike. Shortly after the waterfalls, you come to a split, and you take the right fork and use a suspension bridge to cross Reynolds Creek. You pass the Reynolds Creek Campground shortly after crossing the bridge.
The trail rolls gently over the next mile as you make your way toward the St. Mary River. The forest is not dense, but bears have been known to frequent the area so make sure to carry bear spray, make noise so that you don't sneak up on a bear, and travel in groups. Around the 2-mile mark, the trail comes close to the St. Mary River, where great views of the river and Citadel Mountain are in front of you. Moose have been seen along the river, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled.
The trail enters the woods again before coming back toward the river. Around the 3-mile mark, the trail moves back into the woods for another 1.0 mile to 1.25 miles. Here, the Gunsight Pass Trail
continues off to the left while the trail to Florence Falls
breaks off to the right. The vegetation becomes dense again, as the trail is not heavily traveled. The trail begins to climb and the rush of the falls can be heard.
As you climb the last hill, there, is a log at the bottom of the falls that you can sit on and enjoy the view of the falls. If you turn around, views of the mountains that you went past spread out before you. It is a great place to eat lunch. From here, you can go back to the junction with the Gunsight Pass Trail
and continue back to your car of continue out to Gunsight Pass
While not the most picturesque hike in the park, it does have several great views along the way. The Deadwood Falls at 1 mile and Florence Falls
at the end offer great waterfall views. Due to the length of the trail, while the Gunsight Pass Trail
may be slightly busy, the day we went, we encountered maybe 10 people over the course of the 10-mile trip. It's a great trail to get away from the Glacier crowds and enjoy a nice hike in the woods.
Bears, moose, and deer have been seen along the trail, so be aware of what is going on around you. Most of the trail is in the forest, so the trees provide a good amount of shade. Reeds and lily pads can be seen close to the river as the trail nears it.