Glacier-fed Avalanche Lake is one of the most spectacular attractions inside the Glacier National Park of Montana. It impresses visitors with its incredible clear water and majestic snow-capped mountain scenery. This lake is truly a stunning attraction that is worth checking out for anyone visiting the national park. While here, take the opportunity to dip into the lake at the height of summer; or simply be still, enjoy the serenity and watch the spectacular mountain and waterfall landscape unfold before your eyes.
The most common way to reach Avalanche Lake is on foot, following a designated trail. The hike can be completed in about 2 hours. The Avalanche Lake Trail is just one of the many splendid trails found within the Glacier National Park; but it has proven to be one of the most popular. If you are not a hardcore hiking enthusiast then you are in luck, as Avalanche Lake is a moderately easy hike, which offers you a wonderful backcountry experience in the wilderness.
The trail is located close of the parking lot of the Trail of the Cedars loop. To reach this parking lot, you will need to drive through the west entrance of the park. The first part of the Avalanche Lake hike takes you along the Trail of the Cedars, a boardwalk that is known for its accessibility. From the boardwalk, you will be crossing Avalanche Creek. When you reach the junction of the creek trail, you will need to turn left to reach the gorgeous head of the lake. Some hikers who have reached the head of the lake opt to continue the trail all the way along its western shoreline. Doing so allows you to get varied perspectives of the surrounding landscape which also makes for some great photos. This part of the lake is also considered more serene and isolated and provides the perfect place for relaxation and contemplation.
The elevation gain along the Avalanche Lake Trail is approximately 500 feet. The 4-mile round-trip hike takes you through a gorge and into a hemlock and cedar forest. One of the most striking features of the lake is the towering steep cliffs bordering three sides. Avalanche Lake sits at the base of the Bearhat Mountain, which rises to more than 8500 feet and is situated northeast of the lake.
If you look towards the south, you will see the Little Matterhorn, which is not really that little as it towers to 7886 feet. If you look closely up the mountains and cliffs, you will notice numerous waterfalls cascading down from the valley created by the Sperry Glacier. This Glacier area was named after Dr. Lyman Sperry. It was also Sperry who gave the lake its name after he observed avalanches coming down the surrounding mountains.
One of the best times to begin your hike to Avalanche Lake is during daybreak. By doing so, you will reach the lake before the sun rises above the mountains. This dramatic scenery can give incredible photos. Another ideal time for photos is during late afternoon when the light exposure is soft. Take note that Avalanche Lake is a very popular area, so during peak tourist season, parking space may be hard to secure; so either go quite early or a little late during the day.