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St. Mary Lake Trail

Easy

Trail

10.5 mile 16.9 kilometer point to point
91% Runnable
Easy

Elevation

Ascent: 1,410' 430 m
Descent: -1,521' -464 m
High: 4,854' 1,480 m
Low: 4,495' 1,370 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 29% (16°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Jake Bramante

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

Bring bear spray.

Description

This trail starts at the St. Mary Falls Trailhead. Parking here is limited, so it's better to park at the St. Mary Visitor Center and take the shuttle to the trailhead.

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.

Flora & Fauna

Forest flowers such as fleabane and yellow columbine lead to geranium and asters in the burned meadows. Whitetail deer and bears may be seen along the trail in addition to squirrels and chipmunks.

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#14

in St. Mary

#10656

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#14

in St. Mary

#223

in Montana

#10,656

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18 Views Last Month
1,244 Since Sep 3, 2015
Easy

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Photos

St Mary's Falls.
Jan 21, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
Virginia Falls.
Jun 2, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
St. Mary's Falls in the morning.
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
Looking down on Silver Dollar Beach from the St. Mary Lake Trail.
Jun 13, 2016 near Rising Sun, MT
The trail as it passes through an area of new growth as the area recovers from old fire damage.
Sep 2, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT
Virginia Falls from below the falls.  It's beautiful in the morning, and there are a lot fewer people if you get there early.
Sep 3, 2018 near Rising Sun, MT

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