It never surprises me to hear Iceberg Lake is someone’s favorite hike because it is one of the most stunning hikes in Glacier National Park! The glacial colored lake sits in an enormous mountain cirque – it’s so big you almost can’t capture it. The above shot was taken from a little way above the lake, just so I could get most of it in, (it’s also a great place to stop for lunch).
We decided to combine Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel because they share the same trailhead, and we weren’t the only ones with that idea. We chatted with several people in both locations and swapped traveling tips, (one of my favorite parts of traveling). Iceberg Lake is 10 miles alone, and Ptarmigan Tunnel will add another 5 miles (and a whopping 2,300 feet elevation gain). It was way too tempting to do both on the same day because otherwise they’re each 10 miles, however I think it was a lot to handle especially because we no longer pack light with all the camera gear!
As we sat above the lake for lunch, we watched a group of climber’s start up Iceberg Notch – which is the tallest point in the above photo (travel upwards from the grassy green knoll in the the impossible rock face, and that’s where they were). Someone at the lake asked us if they were crazy fools, but I told them it’s real climb and they must be serious to have made it that far!
This is the view you’ll see when you sit at the lake, (most people lunch here). The ice was still a big mass at the other side of the lake, but once it breaks up there are icebergs floating right next to shore! This shot was taken on a full frame camera with a 16-35 wide angle lens, and I still couldn’t capture more than half of this amazing lake and it’s cirque!
Some of the trail takes you through red rock, which creates a stunning view all around. The best time to go to Iceberg Lake in in late July or early August. Earlier in July the lake can be completely frozen over, and sometimes by September the icebergs have melted in the lake. I’ve actually been to Iceberg Lake 2 times in the past, but I was always too late to see the icebergs.
Iceberg Lake is in the Many Glacier region which is known to be bear country. You’ll definitely want to be prepared and make plenty of noise when you’re walking up the trail. The day we hiked it was a Saturday, which is always a good bet for lots of people on the trail. There were a total of 4 bear sightings on the trail just that day alone – 3 grizzlies, and 1 black bear (we only saw the black bear). There are signs everywhere telling you the wildlife is dangerous, but people constantly disregard their own safety and that of others for a picture. On this trip we saw a grandfather posing his granddaughter right next to a mama mountain goat and her kid – wildlife is extremely protective of their young and even mountain goats can kill people.
This is the view you’ll get when you’re approaching the lake, you can see the cirque in the distance, and late July through the first part of August the trail will be lined with wildflowers.
I’ll leave you with a couple shots of the lake from the trail just before you get to the lake’s edge. See you soon for and adventure to Ptarmigan Tunnel!