St Mary Falls Trail: 1.8 Miles Roundtrip (approx.)
St Mary Falls + Virginia Falls: 3.2 Miles Roundtrip (approx.)
Glacier National Park has some incredible lakes, but this trail of waterfalls is an absolutely lovely change of pace among them all. The trail is fairly easy (overall), and it’s filled with lovely wildflowers during the summer as well as streams and small cascades along the way. And, of course, the color of the water is aaaa-mazing.
Location of the Trail
- The quickest way to access the trail (depending on where you are) is from East Glacier–the Saint Mary Visitor Center Entrance. From there, it’s not terribly far. If you’re not familiar with the main highway running through Glacier National Park, it’s worth knowing that it takes a while to get from one end to the other. We stayed on the west side, and even during June, the middle of the main highway (around Logan Pass) was closed because of snow; therefore, in order to get to the Saint Mary entrance, we had to drive AROUND the outskirts of the park–it took about two hours. It was so worth it though! Just be prepared for that sort of situation.
- You’ll find the trailhead on your left right as Saint Mary Lake has ended, and it’s worth noting that viewing this lake alone makes the two-hour trip worth it. The colors will simply blow you away. (Note: Currently, if you want to kayak or canoe this lake, you’ll have to bring your own).
- After you have parked (hopefully you’ve found a place in the small parking area), you’ll head straight down into the woods from there, and after a little ways, you’ll come to this sign:
- We headed right and thought we might backtrack for Baring Falls (we did not, due to some Bear situations).
- As we moved along toward Saint Mary Falls, the trail consisted of a few small inclines but was overall fairly flat. And despite (or because of?) the bare, blackened trees, the scenery was utterly bewitching.
Saint Mary Falls
- There is a bridge that runs along the front of the falls, and it’s an enchanting little spot–but it can get crowded fairly quickly! I wanted to stay for quite some time, but it was difficult to do so without being in the way of others. We were able to stop for a bit on our way back through though–which you should do also because you’ll want to take some time to stare in awe of the water.
- The view looking out from the falls is pretty incredible as well!
The Trail Continued
- To continue on, just keep heading past the falls around the bend. Whereas Saint Mary Falls pours into the lake directly, Virginia Falls rests up in the mountains a bit, so there is more of an incline–but again, nothing overly strenuous. And again, the scenery is wonderful.
- You see Virginia Falls from the base first–if you veer left off the path at a bridge crossing. This was a great place to just sit, eat a snack, and take in the view, as there’s actually some space to do so. It’s also not nearly as cold as it is up top right by the falls.
- Once we were done here, we headed back up to the path and continued up just a little ways to the top. Viriginia Falls is such a simple, lovely waterfall, and standing at its base offers some incredible views of the surrounding area.
- It filled up with several people quickly, so we weren’t able to stay too long. I’d say if you went pretty early though, you might be able to be alone up here–because in comparison with other places at this time of day, it wasn’t as bad.
- The trail is out & back so you do have to continue out the way you came in. It’s a pretty simple hike back though!
I loved this hike so much. It offered so much of what makes Glacier National Park so absolutely incredible: incredible views of the mountains, a vastly gorgeous lake, water with unreal bluish hues, and waterfalls. Not to mention, the drive out this way offers a great opportunity for you to capture a photo of the most photographed spot in the park: Goose Island, which resides in the middle of Saint Mary Lake. As it was later in the day and beginning to rain when I took this photo, the lake had taken on a darker hue at this point–still though, PICTURE PERFECT.
PS: If you’re planning a trip to Glacier National Park, consider reading my post about another great hike in the park–Avalanche Lake Trail!
Another Image to PIN! <3