One of the most beautiful lakes that we visited in Glacier National Park was Grinnell Lake. It is tucked away in the mountains below a glacier, and the turquoise water is amazing. We rode the Many Glacier boat across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine, which shaves 5 miles off this hike. This makes Grinnell Lake doable for families, otherwise it is a 7.0 mile hike.
- Rating: Easy
- Distance: 2.2 miles RT from the boat dock
- Elevation: 40 feet
- Fees: Glacier National Park fee
- Tips: We recommend taking the boat across the lakes. Then the hike is flat and only 1.0 mile to the lake.
We will be sharing about this hike via the boat ride. For more pictures and info about the boat ride visit our post on Many Glacier Boat Rides. We boarded the boat next to the Many Glacier hotel and rode across Swiftcurrent Lake. There is a short 0.2 mile hike between boats, so we hiked over to Lake Josephine and rode the second boat. The trail began after this ride.
After exiting the boat, it is one mile over to Grinnell Lake, and the trail is very easy. There isn’t much elevation change and you walk in and out of the trees. Most of the trail is shaded and there are good spots for seeing moose or other wildlife along the hike. We were lucky and spotted a moose on our way back.
The trail arrives at a small suspension bridge. From the bridge you can turn up the trail to see Hidden Falls. We recommend doing this on the way to the lake when you still have some energy. It is a very steep climb to the overlook of Hidden Falls even though it’s only 1/4 of a mile. Hidden Falls is definitely hidden. You cannot see the waterfall until you get to the overlook although you can hear it the entire way.
After returning down the hill from the waterfall, cross the bridge and continue to Grinnell Lake. We had fun crossing through the water as we got close to the lake. There is even one place where we used large stumps to jump across the shallow creek. Our boys thought it was really fun to leap from stump to stump.
Soon the trail arrives at Grinnell Lake. It is surrounded by large mountains and is a beautiful turquoise glacier color. Take your shoes off and wade in, but be careful. The water was ice cold because it is obviously fed by a glacier. We found the lake was warmer than the stream water flowing into the lake. No one was swimming, but most people were wading a few feet and then running back to dry land to unthaw their toes.
When you have finished enjoying your time at Grinnell Lake, return the way that you came. If you took the boat over, make sure you are aware of return times and options. If you miss the boat, the hike back is flat, but it’s 2.5 miles from the boat dock. We loved Grinnell Lake and were so glad that we had the chance to visit.
Be sure to check out all of our Glacier National Park Kid Hikes to help you plan your trip!
Grinnell Lake is located in the Many Glacier Area. Park near the Many Glacier Hotel, and take the boat ride from behind the hotel. If you are hiking the full 7.0 miles, the trailhead begins at the Many Glacier Picnic area which is just slightly past the turnoff for the Many Glacier Hotel.
Tips for Families
- Bring a towel to dry off after dipping your toes in Grinnell Lake.
- Schedule your boat ride as early as possible.
- Pack a snack or lunch to enjoy by the lake.