St. Mary Lake Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,410' 430 m
Descent: -1,521' -464 m
High: 4,854' 1,480 m
Low: 4,495' 1,370 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 29% (16°)
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“A varied trail featuring waterfalls, big mountains, a gorgeous lake and a mix of old and burn forest”— Jake Bramante
Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The mostly level trail starts out in the recent burn from the Reynolds Fire with broader views of fantastic peaks due to reduced trees. The trail then drops, intersecting the Piegan Pass trail and continuing on down to the St. Mary River. You follow the river up and get a great view of Virginia Falls with the bridge that goes over the river. Crossing the river, you stand right in front of the multi-pooled waterfall.
Continuing on, the trail meets up with Virginia Creek and follows it upstream in a series of wonderful cascades. After a couple of switchbacks, it passes by the Virginia Falls Viewpoint Trail. After taking that trail to get a close up of the falls, the trail continues with a distant view of the falls as a bridge takes you over the creek.
From here, the trail follows along the base of the mountains occasionally going over seasonal feeder streams racing down to St. Mary Lake. Intermittent, but plentiful views looking down on the lake are fantastic. The trail continues along bouncing back and forth gaining and losing a little bit of elevation.
About two-thirds of the way down the shoreline, a wonderful feature called Silver Dollar Beach comes into view jutting out to a narrowing of the lake. From there, the trail wraps around the northeast flank of Red Eagle Mountain. It climbs up through a burn area as it goes over a lower section of the ridge and drops to the Red Eagle Creek drainage, eventually joining up with the Red Eagle Trail.
This content was created by Jake Bramante of Hike 734. Visit hike734.com for more expert Glacier content and maps that help you decide which trail to run.
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Land Manager: NPS - Glacier National Park