We had less than one week to spend on the east side of Glacier National Park, and we certainly weren’t going to let a little inclement weather dampen our exploration. While the kids weren’t exactly thrilled about having their fingers and noses bitten by driving sleet, fortunately the beauty of Glacier is such that it makes it all worthwhile as the trails twist and turn to reveal breathtaking mountain vistas.
We focused our four days in the Many Glacier section of the park. Our formula for ensuring a pleasant family hike was simple: find trails that follow water. Giving the kids frequent chances to splash around and throw rocks into the icy water can be the difference between a satisfying hike and a endless foot-dragging march of “Can we go home now?” We found three trails in Many Glacier that we found ideal for hiking with young children.
Grinnell Lake Trail
While we knew the 11 mile round trip to see Grinnell Lake and Grinnell Glacier would be out of our sights, this trail offers plenty of scenery in just the first few miles. After a bridge and some great views, the trail winds along Swiftcurrent Lake, which offers a nice view back toward the Many Glacier Hotel. The Younger Fives especially liked dropping stones from the dock on the far side of the lake and watching them sink through the crystal clear water to the bottom. We then continued the short way to Lake Josephine, which was simply beautiful as well.
Apikuni Falls Trail
While this somewhat steep, 2 mile trail didn’t offer much distraction along the way, the waterfall at the end was worth the trip. We felt like we were walking along the moon as we traversed the barren rocks leading to the waterfall itself. Five of Hearts enjoyed scrambling up the rocks along side the falls, and Five Ball and High Five found plenty of stones to plunk into the water. The return trip flew by as we raced down the slope, and we were pleased to find we were back at the car in no time.
Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
Although the 4 mile return trip to Redrock Falls is only a portion of the larger 13 mile trail to Swiftcurrent Pass, we found the trip spectacular. On our first outing we were all in less than pleasant moods, and combined with the cold, rainy weather we cut our hike a bit short. However, we still enjoyed a side trail to a lake at the beginning of the hike and also a trip up the horse trail to an unnamed falls.
While on the second day the weather was not much improved, we were in a much better place for a hike. The driving rain and occasional sleet produced many sizeable puddles on the trail, which kept the Younger Fives busy splashing away in their rubber boots. We pressed on past our turnout spot from the previous day and after an uphill climb emerged from the tree cover to some wide open views of the surrounding peaks. We soon spotted the falls from a distance and found ourselves at the base in no time at all. If the cold sleet had not been pelting us from above we would have enjoyed spending some time exploring. With the weather conditions being what they were, we limited ourselves to huddling under a large tree and eating some peanut butter spread over granola bars. We soon headed back, and although it took us some time to warm up and dry out back at the car, we couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon of hiking.