Hiking (The Other) Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail

Glacier National Park, Montana

Jill at the Grinnell Glacier Overlook from Highline Trail

On one sunny day last July, we found ourselves at the Grinnell Glacier Overlook grinning happily and slightly out of breath. Beneath us lies the reason for our happy state of mind, an expansive view of a valley that starts with a glacier followed by a string of turquoise lakes.

Sitting in the middle of the glacier was a baby-blue pool of water where melted glacial ice has collected. It was so bright against the white of the glacier.

Right then and there we decided that the view was worth the effort lugging myself up the trail to this overlook.

Grinnell Glacier

The ‘Other’ Overlook (aka The Grinnell Glacier Overlook from the Highline Trail)

In theory, this overlook doesn’t exist. Earlier that morning, we were told that Grinnell Glacier Overlook was actually located somewhere else in Glacier National Park. When I insisted that there was supposed to be another overlook, “I swear, I read it on the Internet!” the park ranger at Logan Pass Visitor Center looked confused.

Does this other overlook that’s not marked on the park map actually exist? Should we trust some random people on the Internet over a park ranger? In the end, we decided yes…and drove to the trailhead.

The 4.5 mile trail called ‘The Loop’ trail that we took to get there was no easy picnic. It was steep with no shades and with no interesting view to distract us from our slow uphill slog. Most people reach the overlook through the Highline Trail, but it was closed at the time due to ice cover.

After a gazillion hours and a gallon of sweat, we finally arrived the Granite Park Chalet. We rejoiced!

Err, a cold drink after a hot uphill hike?

It was a big relief to finally get to the Chalet. Not only because it meant we were close to our final destination, but also because they sold cold drinks out of a well-stocked fridge there.

Jack and I were like…

After a quick break of Snickers and cold drinks (did I mention the Chalet also sells candy bars?), we continued on the overlook trail proper.

Jack starting out on the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trail proper
Jack starting out on the Grinnell Glacier Overlook trail proper
Looking back at the Granite Park Chalet from the trail
Looking back at the Granite Park Chalet from the trail

The turnoff to the notch trail was slightly after the Chalet. This was the steepest part of the hike (about 1000 ft in elevation in 0.6 mile) but fresh from our previous cold drink and candy bar party, we powered through and we were rewarded with the this view.

View from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook, Glacier NP

We scrambled up further to get a better look at the string of lakes below us: Grinnell Lake, Lake Josephine, and Sherburne Lake.

A string of lakes seen from Grinnell Glacier Overlook

Yep, this hike is definitely worth the sweat.

The Grinnell Glacier Overlook from Highline Trail

The notch and the highline trail seen from Granite Park Chalet

map of Grinnell Glacier Overlook

If you’re looking for one moderate hike to do in Glacier National Park, I don’t think you can go wrong with Grinnell Glacier Overlook from the Highline Trail.

Mileage (one-way): 5 miles if done from The Loop. About 8 miles if done from the Highline Trail.

If we had to do this hike all over again
We’d take the Highline Trail start from Logan Pass Visitor Center instead of The Loop (this was our original plan until we learned about Highline Trail closure). It’s longer (7 miles) but it’s flatter and we could see that it would be far more scenic.

Do the loop
See lower map.
What’s nice about this hike is the loop possibility. You can backtrack the way you came from, or start at Logan Pass Visitor Center and finish at The Loop trailhead and take a shuttle.

OR you can finish back at the Many Glacier trailhead (I recommend AGAINST taking the Swiftcurrent trail to the Chalet. It’s very steep!)

Bring a windbreaker. It gets very windy at the notch.

8 Replies to “Hiking (The Other) Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail”

  1. So cool! We were in the USA (WY, UT and CO) last summer and after visiting we got so many awesome travel advice from fellow campers … now we desperately want to visit Montana (and Oregon and Washington) … jealous you live so close to all this beauty. Hopefully Yosemite next summer … we'll see. I'll keep on following you as I really enjoy your blog!
    My recent post Park Post #4: The Grand Canyon

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