Best time to travel to Glacier National Park, MT

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park, MT

The alpine lake surrounded by cliffs is fed by multiple waterfalls

Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake is a popular hiking destination in Glacier National Park, which can be accessed via Going-to-the-Sun Road near Lake McDonald. The view of the lake, located southwest of the beautiful Bearhat Mountain, is framed by picturesque cliffs with several waterfalls, filling the lake with crystal clear meltwater coming from Sperry Glacier. The lake received its name due to frequent avalanches rolling down the mountains into the lake.

Avalanche Lake Hike

Avalanche Lake can be reached by a relatively easy 2-mile (3-km) hike with an elevation gain of 730 feet (222 m). This trail opens for hikers in late May and closes in October. Avalanche Lake Trail starts at Avalanche Campground, about 5 miles east of Lake McDonald. The same trailhead is used for the Trail of the Cedars. Hikers cross a footbridge and pass an old cedar and hemlock forest. Soon you will reach the foot of the lake. In the late summer season, you'll be amazed by the sound of cascading water from numerous waterfalls. In early fall, beautiful foliage frames the lake, adding color. In late spring, you can still see one of those famous avalanches. This is a perfect half-day hike that has all the best things Glacier National Park has to offer.


Despite really cold water and high elevation, fish thrives in Avalanche Lake. Fantastic views attract many anglers. Don't set high expectations for a catch though. Cutthroat trout, which is native to the lake, is quite small. You also have to follow the fishing regulations of the Glacier National Park, according to which all native fish caught have to be released.

Where to stay

Avalanche Campground is one of the best and most popular in Glacier National Park. It's a perfect base to explore glacier lakes in the area. The campground is shaded by cedar and hemlock forest, providing cover from the sun and privacy. It has water and restrooms with flush toilets and sinks. Sites are occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Practical info

When is the best time to hike to Avalanche Lake?

Hikers can trek to the picturesque Avalanche Lake within the timings of June to October. The Glacier National Park commonly opens the hiking trail towards the latter portion of May. The serene cascading waterfalls can be experienced by visitors during the late summer. The attractively hued foliage around the lake is visually pleasing during early fall. Late spring visitors can witness mountainsides unleashing avalanches into the lake. Show more

Where is Avalanche Lake located within Glacier National Park?

The Bearhat Mountain adjacent Avalanche Lake is located within Glacier National Park's southwest region. Situated near Lake McDonald, the Lake can be reached by taking a 2-mile round trip hike through the Avalanche Campground. Moreover, the trailhead is used for the Trail of the Cedars, which is a well-known attraction of the park. Show more

How long does it take to hike to Avalanche Lake?

A relatively easy trek of around 2-miles, with an elevation gain of 730 feet, can take hikers through the popular nature trail to Avalanche Lake within Glacier National Park. The hiking time for this picturesque Lake is approximately 2-4 hours along the round trip, as per hiking pace and time spent appreciating nature's beauty. This hike will be a delightful half-day way to get closer to nature and witness its magnificent views. Show more

Are there any fishing regulations to follow at Avalanche Lake?

Fishing enthusiasts can catch the native cutthroat trout at Avalanche Lake within Glacier National Park, but they will have to mandatorily comply with the park's fishing rules. Keeping of native fish caught is strictly prohibited. Moreover, these cutthroat trout are unfit for consumption due to their small size, but visitors do not require a fishing license to catch fish. It is of utmost importance to verify the fishing season as it is often identical to Canada's fishing season. Show more

What can visitors expect to see from the Avalanche Campground?

The cozy Avalanche Campground situated at the base of the popular Lake trailhead within Glacier National Park offers an ideal camping location surrounded by cedar and hemlock forest that provides abundant shade and privacy. The campground is equipped with basic amenities like water, restrooms with sinks and flush toilets. The sites are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors can expect a serene and tranquil camping experience that is brimming with beautiful views of the surroundings. Show more

Ask a question

Find hotels and airbnbs near Avalanche Lake (Map)

Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen