The Avalanche Lake trail in Glacier National park is a hiking trail leading to spectacular views of Avalanche Lake.
The trail begins following the Trail of the Cedars, a wheelchair accessible loop (Adaptive level 1-2) through an old growth cedar forest and along Avalanche Creek. Near Avalanche Gorge the Avalanche Lake trail splits, ascending a series of rock steps (Adaptive level 10 with assistance needed for all levels of riders) cut into the hillside. The steps are high enough and closely spaced together so that assistance from an able-bodied companion will be needed.
Shortly after the steps, one encounters a stretch of extreme off-camber ledges (Adaptive level 10 with assistance needed) with Avalanche Creek on one side and a rock wall on the other. Spotting will be required here to avoid tipping.
After the off-camber section the trail follows Avalanche Creek for about a mile with gradual ups and downs (Adaptive level 5-6) with occasional steps caused by tree roots or runoff barriers (Adaptive level 8-9).
The trail then begins a steady climb towards Avalanche Lake. While no more significant barriers are present here, the trail does climb a total of approximately 600 feet in the 2.3 miles to the lake so it is a workout for the arms of any wheelchair / off-road handcycle. Due to this climb, only rear wheel driven handcycles are recommended.
Additional Notes: This is probably the busiest trail in all of Glacier National park so I suggest avoiding any mid-day riding so as not to cause bottlenecks on the trail.
Trail Name: Avalanche Lake Trail
Location: West Glacier, Montana |
Type: Wide trail (≥ 30″), Start and end at the same point (Out-and-Back)
Rating: Adaptive Level 10
Steepest Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Most Off-Camber Section: Difficult – over 30º
Terrain: Mostly hardpack, minimal loose sections
Obstacles: Root exposure, Deep ruts and erosion, Ravines, drop-ins, Drops, ledges, jumps
Help Needed? Yes, a little
Directions to Trailhead
The Avalanche Lake Trail splits from the Trail of the Cedars (a wheelchair accessible trail) located at the Avalanche area along Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park.