Iceberg Lake Trail Glacier National Park ~ a slow hiker's guide™


Iceberg Lake Trail is one of the most popular trails in Glacier Park

Many Glacier Trail Map
Topo Map Iceberg Lake Trail

Trail frequently closed due to bears

May 23, 2015

Trail clear of all snow until Ptarmigan Falls.

Ptarmigan Falls picnic area clear of snow.

Wildflowers on lower section of trail are in full bloom.

Iceberg lake frozen, last 3/4 mile of trail 100% snow covered.

Screen shot of Altitude Profile from my iPhone from maping program GAIAGPS.
Image of profile used with permission from GAIAGPS.

Altitude Pofile Iceberg Lake Trail

June 8, 2014
Info from GNP web site "Iceberg Lake Trail posted for hazardous travel conditions near Ptarmigan Bridge"

The trailhead is behind the Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge, take the last right hand turn before the end of Many Glacier Road.
There is a small parking area for Iceberg Trail at the trailhead.

Unless you are at the trailhead early in the morning you will need to park in the main parking lot. Swiftcurrent Restaurant opens at 6:30 am for breakfast. Drinking water available in Many Glacier Campground along with flush toilets. Last toilet before Ptarmigan Falls. There is a second pit toilet on the trail just before Iceberg Lake. This trail is through bear country! Bear Bells DO NOT WORK and are an annoyance to other hikers. Bear Spray does work. When hiking in bear country make noise when going around blind corners. During the main hiking season there are free Ranger Led Hikes. Depending on the Ranger you will learn about the geology or plant life in the area. Hike schedules change during the summer so pick up a current copy when you enter the park.

If you are not an experienced back country hiker I highly recommend these hikes.

Ptarmigan/ Iceberg Trail
Motel parking lot to jct. above Ptarmigan Falls/ 2.4 mi.
Trail clear of trees for first 3.1 miles.
Mostly clear of snow until Ptarmigan Falls. A few drifts beyond Ptarmigan Falls for next .6 miles. Consistent snow beyond that point. 6/4/2013
Jct. above Ptarmigan Falls to Iceberg Lake/ 2.1 mi. Initial clearing scheduled for: 6/28/13
Footbridge scheduled to be installed 6/28/13
Trail is snow-free for the first 3/4 mile beyond the falls.
The last 1.5 miles is mostly snow covered with some potentially hazardous snow field crossings, 6/12/13

NPS Trail Crew Report
Trail is POSTED for bear frequenting, 7/21/12
Jct. above Ptarmigan Falls to Iceberg Lake/ 2.1 mi. Clearing of downfall will begin in June 2012
bridge installed 7/6/12
100% clear of snow to bridge
from the bridge to the lake 100% snow covered 7/6/12
60% snow cover with 5 steep snow slopes, ice Axe recommended.
Water crossing right before lake is running swift at 1-2 ft deep. 6/16/2012
90% snow covered to Iceberg Lake, 6/8/2012

The steepest portion of this trail is the start which is a series of switchbacks. Once you have finished the switchbacks the trail makes a very gradual ascent hugging the side of Henkel Mountain. During the start of the 2013 hiking season Many Glacier received 3 inches of rain in two hours. This is the same storm system that caused massive damage to Calgary and Banff. Luckily for the Many Glacier area the focus of the storm was basically limited to Henkel Mountain. As mentioned elsewhere I hiked the Iceberg Trail three days after this deluge. Swiftcurrent Lake was a muddy brown. At the start of the Iceberg Trail there was no noticeable damage until I reached Henkel Creek which in the past was not even noticeable as I can find no photos from all of my previous hikes of the Iceberg Lake Trail. After making my way across the gouged out creek bed I encountered tall piles of scree that had been dumped onto the trail. I will hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel next year which shares the first have of the Iceberg Trail to record the repair work done by Glacier Parks hard working, unsung heroes. (well my regular readers will know that I sing praise for the trail crews on a regular basis!)

footbridge iceberg lake

Unless you are an experienced winter hiker I'd think twice before crossing this creek when it is covered by an unstable snow bridge.
See photo of creek crossing in early September on the right side of this page.

NPS Trail crew report from 5-7-12 Motel parking lot to jct. above Ptarmigan Falls/ 2.4 mi. Initial clearing scheduled for: CLOSED due to bear. 5/4/12
NPS Trail crew report from 9-30-11
Iceberg Plank Bridge: Bridge removed 9/29/11
Motel parking lot to jct. above Ptarmigan Falls/ 2.4 mi.
Jct. above Ptarmigan Falls to Iceberg Lake/ 2.1 mi.

Trail OPEN but POSTED: for bear frequenting 9/5/2011
Trail CLOSED: for bear frequenting 8/30/2011

TRAIL POSTED: for bear frequenting 8/17/2011
TRAIL has been REOPENED: 8/16/2011
TRAIL CLOSED: for bear frequenting 8/10/11
TRAIL POSTED: for bear frequenting 7/24/11

Iceberg Plank Bridge: Bridge installed 7/11/11
Trail clear of trees.
Snow: Snow slopes have been treaded, patchy snow becoming 100% last 5/8 mile.
Trail has been "flagged" with orange posts. 7/12/11
Initial clearing completed: 6/23/11
Trail is 50% snow covered for 1/2 mile approaching Ptarmigan Falls. 6/29/11
Jct. above Ptarmigan Falls to Iceberg Lake/ 2.1 mi.
Iceberg Plank Bridge: Install rescheduled for 7/8/11
per conversation with 851 as depth of snow banks 5+ft on bridge banks 6/29/11
Trail 80% snow covered. 6/23/11

Red Rock Falls on the Swiftcurrent Trail is an easy hike with great views.

Iceberg Lake Trail is one of the more popular trails in Glacier Park. Iceberg Lake Trail is usually a very crowded trail. Wildflowers are spectacular this year, 2013, on this trail. Iceberg Lake Trail is very frequently closed because of bear activity. This is a very active grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) corridor.

On most trails in Glacier Park bugs aren't a problem. Iceberg Lake Trail is usually a very buggy trail.

The steepest part of Iceberg Lake Trail is at the trailhead, after the initial climb the trail ascends to Iceberg Lake very gradually.

Bugs along with snowfall were setting new 'records' in Glacier Park 2011!

2010/2011 was a record breaking heavy snowfall year!
Don't expect this trail to be clear of all snow until early August 2011!

2009/2010 was a light snow year.
2008/2009 was a heavy snow year. This trail wasn't completely clear of snow until mid July.

Iceberg  Lake 2005 Glacier National Park © Shawn Coggins

© Shawn Coggins 2005 Glacier National Park, Montana.
Iceberg Lake, no glacier. July 20, 2005.
by mid August there were no icebergs

iceberg lake 1911 usgs

USGS photo Glacier National Park, Montana.
August 13, 1911.

iceberg glacier 1911 Glacier National Park

USGS photo Glacier National Park, Montana.
Front of glacier at Iceberg Lake, showing crevasses.
August 13, 1911. Alden, W.C. 551

There is no longer a glacier at Iceberg Lake. Barely a permanent snow field.

iceberg on iceberg lake glacier national park © Shawn Coggins 2005

Small Iceberg on Iceberg Lake, July 2005, compared to the icebergs in Upper Grinnell Lake these guys are ice cubes! Of all the trails I've hiked in Glacier Park this is the buggiest.

Drowning is the NUMBER 1 cause of visitor deaths in Glacier National Park.
Ten times as many people have drowned then have been killed by bears.
The water in Iceberg Lake is very, very cold.

iceberg 1920

USGS photo August 25, 1920 Alden, W.C. 1040 Glacier National Park Montana.
View of southern part of the front of glacier at Iceberg Glacier, Glacier National Park Montana.
Showing vertical ice cliff, upturned dirt bands, and rock debris on surface.

wildflowers iceberg lake trail glacier national park

Iceberg Lake July 2005 was for me the year of the flowers. The wildflowers below were taken on the meadow next to Iceberg Lake. The amount of wildflowers blooming varies greatly from year to year.

These flowers were taken on the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail a few days before. I've lost track of how many times I've hiked the Iceberg Lake Trail.

blue flowers ptarmigin lake 2005 glacier national park  © Shawn Coggins 2005

Iceberg Lake Trail Damage

Will put together a web page on storm damage this winter. All reports that I get from hikers is that the trail is fixed.