Climbing up from Many Glacier in Glacier National Park, Iceburg Lake is a stunning destination. The 9.6 mile hike, with sweeping views is one of the best hikes in Glacier. Hike in the early summer for fields of wildflowers and Icebergs floating in the lake.
In this post, we’ll share 5 things you need to know for the Iceberg Lake hike as well as complete details on our experience hiking this trail in July of 2023.
Overview of the Iceberg Lake Hike
Distance: 9.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet Difficulty: Moderate trail (challenging only due to the length)
The Iceberg Lake Hike is in the Many Glacier area and you will need to pay a fee to enter Glacier National Park and will also need a reservation to get into Many Glacier.
The hike to Iceberg lake is moderate as the trail is never steep or challenging with the exception of the first 10 minutes, where it is slightly steeper. The trail steadily climbs about 1500 feet over the entire distance of the hike and offers incredible views of the valleys and peaks of glacier and gets better and better as you hike.
5 Things You Need to Know about the Iceburg Lake Hike
1. You need a reservation to get into Many Glacier and to access the Many Glacier Trailhead
In addition to the fee to enter Glacier National Park, you will also need to get a reservation to enter Many Glacier. Reservations are competive and limited. Most of them go on sale 4 months in advance and the rest are release the day before. You can see complete details on the Many Glacier Reservation System on the NPS site.
The fee to book a reservation is only $2. You will also need to pay the park entrance fee.
If you are unable to get a reservation, there are a few ways to still enter Many Glacier and enjoy the hike to Iceburg Lake. First, you can book a reservation within Many Glacier such as lodging, camping or a tour.
The other option is to arrive in Many Glacier prior to 6 am. At this point, the gates are not yet open and you can simply drive in. This is what we did on the day we hikes to Iceburg Lake. In addition to getting in the park without a reservation, this also gives you the best opportunity to avoid the crowds and find parking.
2. Bear and moose are common on this trail so carry bear spray and make noise
This trail is a popular place for moose and bear. We saw a moose during our hike and many people on the trail saw bear. Many sure to carry bear spray with you and talk while hiking. Be aware and watchful for animals on the trail.
It is also not uncommon for trails in Glacier National Park to be temporarily closed due to bear activity.
3. The Iceberg Lake hike is stunning
This is a stunning hike and in addition to the beautiful Iceburg Lake at the end of the hike, you also get sweeping views the Many Glacier area of the park. The trail traverses along a hillside for a majority of the hike and you have almost constant views out across the landscape.
The trail end directly at Iceberg Lake. The lake is surrounded by cliffs and you will likely see chunks of bright blue ice floating in the lake.
4. Iceberg Lake is a great alternative to the Grinnel Glacier Hike
Both the Grinnel Glacier and Iceberg Lake are beautiful and offer a long hike to a stunning lake. The hike to Grinnel Glacier is slightly more challenging but the views many be just a tad better.
Grinnel Glacier was closed during our visit due to bear activity so Iceburg Lake was a fantastic alternative.
If you still want to see Grinnel Glacier and the lake, you can also hike the Highline Trail and do the Grinnel Glacier overlook.
5. You can Swim in Iceburg Lake
This is a popular thing to do at this stunning lake, but as you would expect, Iceburg Lake is COLD. If you are visiting on a cold day, be aware that you will still need to hike back to the trailhead and it may be difficult to warm up.
Map of Iceburg Lake Hike
Below you can see a map of the Iceburg Lake Trail.
Other Things to Know about Hiking to Iceberg Lake
Below you can see some more general information to help you plan your hike to Glacier National Park.
Where is the Iceberg Lake Trailhead
To access the Iceberg Lake Trailhead, you will enter Many Glacier. The drive into Many Glacier is lovely, but the dirt road can be dry and bumpy.
Once you get to Many Glacier – continue straight to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. There’s enough parking for roughly 10-15 in the small parking lot behind the Inn, or you can park in the larger parking lot in front of the Inn and walk a short distance to the trailhead.
You can not access the trailhead to Iceberg Lake from the Going to the Sun Road. You will need to leave this part of the park and re-enter at Many Glacier.
What to Pack for your Iceberg Lake Hike
You can find a list of the best gear for hiking in our day hike gear guide and below are a few critical items to bring with you on your hike to Iceberg Lake.
- Plenty of Water – at least 2 liters/person
- Bear Spray
- Hiking Boots/Shoes
Full Description of the Iceberg Lake Hike
We did the Iceburg Lake hike in early July of 2023. After spending the day before in Many Glacier with a park reservation, we didn’t have a reservation for our final day.
We entered the park around 5:45 before reservation started and were at the parking lot and ready to hike by 6 am. There were several other hikers getting ready to head out on various trails but we were ultimately the second people on the trail in the morning.
The first section of the trail is the steepest part of the entire hike. Just after the trailhead, you will turn right to take the short connector trail to the Ptarmigan Trail. Once you reach the Ptarmigan Trail, turn left and the trail become much more gradual.
From here you continue on the trail towards that towering Ptarmigan Wall in the distance. The trail begins to pass through fields of flowers and small wooded areas. This is the most likely area to see a bear, so be prepared and continue making noise as you walk. We saw a moose about 1 mile into the hike – it came quickly across the trail just a short distance in front of us startling us a bit.
At 2.5 miles you will reach Ptarmigan Falls. Due to the steep terrain it is difficult to get a full view of the falls. In about 1 more mile, the trail reaches a junction and you will continue straight on the Iceberg Lake Trail.
This was our favorite section of the trail as you pass through incredible fields of wildflowers and can see the approaching cliffs above the lake in the distance. You can see Ptarmigan Wall with snow along the base.
The Ptarmigan Wall, is an arête – or thin ridge of rock between two glacial valleys.
You can see the wall in the image below and see the snow just above the lake. The trail passes through the wooded section in the center of the photo and descends very slightly to the lake.
After catching up with the hiker in front of use we walked together for the last few miles of the hike since she had seen several bears and we arrived at the lake at the same time. The early morning is a great time to take in the calmness and colors of the lake and see the reflections of the rock walls and ice.
We spent about 20 minutes enjoying the lake and snapping some photos before heading back down the way we came. We saw significantly more people on the way down and by 9:30 when we finished the hike there was a line of people coming up the trail.
We strongly recommend starting this hike early to enjoy the views without all the crowds.
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