A forested trail starts at Fish Creek Campground and follows a ridge along the west bank of Lake McDonald, eventually looping around the muddy head of the lake and ending up at the lodge. It’s 6.7 miles from the campground to the lodge; a mile-long walk from the campground goes to Rocky Point, yielding good views of the lake and the mountains.
Hike from the Lake McDonald Lodge up to Sperry Chalet (6.2 miles one-way) or three steep miles farther to Lake Ellen Wilson or, on another spur, to Sperry Glacier. The trail continues on another 10 miles from Lake Ellen Wilson (which has a backcountry campground) over Gunsight Pass and returns to Going-to-the-Sun Road at the Jackson Glacier viewpoint, five miles east of Logan Pass. From this point, it’s another long day’s hike over Piegan Pass and down the other side of the Continental Divide to the Many Glacier Hotel.
From the same trailhead near the lodge, paths branch off to shallow Fish Lake (six miles round-trip), the Mt. Brown Lookout (a steep, arduous 10-mile round-trip), and Snyder Lake (4.5 miles in to a campground beside an emerald lake nestled in the mountains).
One of the park’s easiest and most popular hikes takes in the western red cedar and hemlock forest near Avalanche Campground. The 0.7-mile-long, wheelchair-accessible Trail of the Cedars follows a boardwalk over the floor of the old-growth forest, past Avalanche Gorge, and returns via the campground. It’s a splendid trail, even with crowds; solitude seekers will like it even better in the winter, when cross-country skiers may share the trail with moose.
The trail to Avalanche Lake starts near Avalanche Campground and the Trail of the Cedars and follows Avalanche Creek two miles through forest to the lake. Waterfalls draining Sperry Glacier tumble over the 1,500-foot wall, which encloses a cirque, and pour the glacial water into Avalanche Lake.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition