Features: Birding — Lake — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
A great trail run featuring big views, well maintained and relatively level.
Just east of the St. Mary Entrance to Glacier, and outside of the park, follow the signs for the old 1913 Ranger Station. The trail starts at the south end of the parking lot.
Follow the trail through open meadows at the foot of St. Mary Lake. The history here is great, but mostly hidden as you take an old road through meadows and trees to the shore of St. Mary Lake. This location is the site of the old St. Mary Chalet and boat dock where park visitors would set out on boats to Going-to-the-Sun Point Chalets (what is now Sun Point
) before the Going-to-the-Sun Road was constructed.
From here, the trail veers away from the lake and into the forest. Wonderful pocket meadows interrupt the trees with eruptions of wildflowers in the spring and early summer. While primarily an evergreen forest at the beginning, it transitions to more of an aspen forest and a recent burn area. The stands of silver trees make for fantastic flowers and birding. The meadows open up with a stunning panorama of flowers and rocky mountains.
The trail then alternates between burned forest and open meadows, then descends to Red Eagle Creek where it crosses over on a swinging bridge. More burned forest where it steeply climbs up the ridge, then back down to cross over the creek again.
From here to the lake, the trail goes gently up and down through the burned forest. Wildflowers vary depending upon time of year. Woodpeckers and forest birds are abundant. The trail climbs a bit right before the lake with a wonderful overlook, then leads down to the campground at the foot of the lake, right along its shores. Looking across the lake is a real treat of tall mountain peaks in this crystal blue lake full of waterfowl and frequented by moose at the head.
This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com
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Wildflowers abound with lupine, arrowleaf balsamroot, geraniums, fireweed, and hollyhock all along the trail. Warblers, woodpeckers, chickadees, hawks, waterfowl, wrens, and a host of other birds are seen along this trail. Moose can be spotted at the head of the lake. Less frequent are elk and bear.