4-Day Guide to East Glacier National Park


Bradee Felton

April 8, 2024

Alright, so you’ve made it over to the eastern half of Glacier National Park and are looking for the ultimate 4-day guide to want to make the most of your time – I’ve got you. The entire park is filled with spectacular views, but the east side truly is a playground for hikers in my opinion. In this article, I’ll cover the Going-To-The-Sun-Road East of Logan Visitor Center, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine areas. If you are looking for visuals of the area click on the main header of each section, or check out the National Parks Site linked here for maps divided by area. Before we start, if you haven’t already checked out the 3-Day Guide to West Glacier National Park, be sure to do so since both are absolutely worth exploring!

You can mix and match any of the hikes in each area, but I will list two options in each  – one for the more easy going adventurer, and one for the challenge seeker.

A few things to note before diving in, there is a timed entry reservation system for certain entrances of the park. The Many Glacier Entrance being the one covered in this article. For reservation and shuttle information be sure to visit the Glacier National Park Website linked HERE, and to book your vehicle reservations in advance, visit linked HERE. A portion of vehicle reservations will be available 120 days or approximately four months in advance, starting on January 25, 2024, at 8 am MST on a daily rolling basis. Next Day vehicle reservations will be available at 7 pm MDT for next-day entry starting on May 23, 2024 on a daily rolling basis. (Note* if you enter the park prior to 6am or after 3pm, you do not need a timed vehicle reservation.)

Pro tips and things to expect:

-Parking lots fill up QUICKLY – especially the Many Glacier area so if you want to ensure parking opportunities, try to get there by 8am.

-Trail closures due to wildlife activity in the area happen frequently, so just be prepared with a Plan B option in case the trail you want to do is not available. 

-Be aware and considerate of wildlife – be sure to take bear spray with you, and make noise as you hike. 

-As always, be prepared with the ten essentials – especially proper clothing, sun protection, water, food, and shoes. 

-Expect little to no cell service during your time in the park.

St. Mary/Going To The Sun Road East

Siyeh Pass (shown below) is a challenging and scenic 10 mile point-to-point trail. You’ll need to arrange a ride at the other end of the hike, which is easily done by using the park’s free shuttle service on Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s a good idea to use the park’s shuttles anyway during the popular months of July and August since parking lots and roads get so congested. This is an exposed trail so be prepared with sun protection and plenty of water, and don’t forget your bear spray!

glacier national park with wildflowers in the foreground of photo

St. Mary & Virginia Falls is a great easier option if you are looking for a kid-friendly hike or just a nice stroll without the leg burn. It is an out-and-back 3 mile long hike with only 452 ft of elevation gain. St. Mary falls is a two level waterfall with teal blue water, and Virginia Falls is a bit taller and absolutely worth continuing along the trail to. 

Sun Point Nature Trail + Baring Falls these are some more easy options for shorter meandering hikes along St. Mary Lake. If you time it right, Sun Point Nature Trail is a great option for sunrise and sunset. 

Gunsight Lake + Florence Falls is a truly underrated lake hike with incredible views, plenty of gorgeous waterfalls, and a good chance of seeing wildlife like goats and moose. It’s a 14 mile round trip cruisy out and back with about 1,900 ft elevation gain.

Honorable Mention for a good view during your trip: Wild Goose Island Lookout (shown below) is on the Going-To-The-sun-Road along St. Mary Lake

expansive view of glacier national park

St. Mary/Going To The Sun Road West Itinerary Options:

Ideal active day: Start the day off with Siyeh Pass then hit St. Mary’s Falls + Virginia Falls for a midday cool off swim if weather permits, then end your day with sunset at Wild Goose Island Lookout or Sun Point Nature Trail.

Ideal chill day: Start the day early with a long but easier hike into Gunsight Lake. Hang there for lunch and then head back to the St. Mary Lake area and if you are up to it head to St. Mary Falls + Virginia Falls. Then cap your day at Wild Goose Island Lookout for sunset!

Many Glacier  (Plan for 2 days)

Grinnell Glacier or Grinnell Lake (shown below) is one of Glacier’s most iconic hikes and for good reason. Not only do you get incredible views looking down on Grinnell Lake, you get to hike up to Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake! The views are incredible the whole hike in, and getting to see the glacier up close is such a cool experience. If you time it out right, you can also shorten the hike by about 4 miles round trip if you take the boat ride across Josephine Lake. In total, without the boat ride, the hike to Grinnell Glacier is a 10 mile out and back hike with just over 2,000ft elevation gain. Be sure to wear sun protection and carry water on this one!

turquoise alpine lake surrounded by mountains

Iceberg Lake is another great option in the area! With the iconic blue water and floating icebergs this hike is another unique experience found in the park. It’s about a 9.5 mile round trip hike with just under 1,500ft of elevation gain. 

Bullhead Lake (shown below) is a majorly underrated hiking option in the Many Glacier area! The hike is gorgeous with good chances of seeing moose and you will also see Red Rock Falls along the way! It is an easy 7 mile round trip out and back with just under 500 ft of elevation gain – so a great option if you aren’t feeling up to a leg burner!

bullhead lake

Ptarmigan Tunnel (shown below) has a unique twist – at the top it is a 250 ft tunnel passageway through the mountain that allows you views of a less traveled and gorgeous valley in Glacier including Elizabeth Lake. You’ll gain about 2,300 ft of elevation during this 10.5 mile out and back. If you are up for the challenge, it is a gorgeous option!

Cracker Lake (shown below) is another iconic hike in Glacier. Cracker Lake is an opaque robin-egg-blue lake surrounded by mountains and gorgeous views! You’ll gain about 1,700 ft in a roughly 13 mile out and back trek. This is a trail that is shared with livestock, so be prepared for a bit of manure along the trail.

Cracker Lake

Many Glacier Day 1 Itinerary Options:

Ideal active day: Stretch your legs and warm up with a hike to Bullhead Lake, then choose between either Cracker Lake or Ptarmigan Tunnel + Iceberg Lake offshoot option for a challenging rest of the day.

Ideal chill day: Take a boat ride across Swiftwater and Josephine Lake, then hike to Grinnell Lake (lower). Follow it up with a nice afternoon hike into Bullhead Lake.

Many Glacier Day 2 Itinerary Options:

Ideal active day: Start your day with an early morning hike to Grinnell Glacier, then follow it up with a cruisy hike into Cracker Lake.

Ideal chill day: Start your day with a hike into Iceberg Lake then rent a kayak or canoe for a fun afternoon on Swiftwater Lake!

Two Medicine

Scenic Point (Steep) is a hike that definitely lives up to its name, but is a bit of a leg burner getting there. If you are up for it, it’s a great option to see Glacier from a breathtaking vantage point. It is an 8 mile out and back with just under 2,500 ft of elevation gain.

Pitamakan – Dawson Loop is such an incredible and challenging hike if you are up for it. You get incredible lake and mountain views and hike through two different mountain passes. It’s a longer option, coming in at about 19 miles and 3,800 ft elevation gain. If you have the time and stamina, I highly highly recommend this loop!

Running Eagle Falls (shown below) is a super easy walk to a really cool waterfall. Depending on the time of year you go, you will either see a two-tier style waterfall or a single-tier with a tricky view that looks like it’s coming out from behind the rock wall. 

Running Eagle Falls

Medicine Grizzly Lake is another one that is underrated and an easier hike in terms of elevation gain. You’ll gain just under 900 ft during the 13 mile out and back trail.

Upper Two Medicine Lake (shown below) is an 11 mile out and back with right around 1,000 ft elevation gain as well. The hike along Two-Medicine Lake is gorgeous, and the trek to Upper Two Medicine Lake ends with beautiful lake views.

Two Medicine Itinerary Options:

Ideal active day: Start with an early hike up to Scenic Point and then either a hike into Upper Two Medicine Lake or Medicine Grizzly Lake. Or take on the Pitamakan – Dawson Loop for an insanely adventurous and beautiful day!

Ideal chill day: Kick off your day with an early hike into either Medicine Grizzly or Upper Two Medicine Lake then check out Running Eagle Falls for an evening outing. 

I hope this guide helps you plan the most epic trip to East Glacier National Park. Let me know if you found it helpful for your trip planning! If you are looking for a way to ensure feeling strong and prepared for any hike you take on, be sure to check out our 1:1 Mountain Metabolic Coaching Program, or the Fit For Hiking Guides. Whatever hikes you end up choosing, you are bound to have an incredible time in Glacier National Park!

Happy + Healthy Trails,


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