Snyder Lake in Glacier National Park is a great option for the spring and fall seasons when the Going to the Sun Road is closed at the Lake McDonald Lodge. There aren’t a ton of options when the road is closed, and this makes for a great hike that’s not as long as other hikes in this area.
I’m not going to sugar coat it though, this doesn’t even come close to making it into my top 10, and I wouldn’t bother with it if you only have a couple of days in Glacier. But on the other hand if you come during the off season, it might be one of the only hikes available, and it is a worthy objective when the higher elevation areas are closed.
The trailhead starts off across the road from Lake McDonald Lodge, and it shares it’s first couple of miles with the Sperry Trail. If you’re up to 10+ miles of hiking with significant elevation Sperry Chalet and Mount Brown are also available from this trail.
The trail weaves through the sun dappled trees and climbs steadily all the way to the lake. Roundtrip it’s just under 9 miles and gains about 2,000 feet of elevation. There’s backcountry camping at the lake and fishing opportunities as well.
In the springtime the trail is surrounded by an almost jungle of green color, and in the fall you’re surrounded by yellows and oranges.
The lake sits in a bit of a mountain cirque, and there’s a climber’s trail through the headwall to the upper Snyder Lake if you have a bit more time, energy, and route finding skills.
Some other hiking options in Glacier National Park when the Going to the Sun Road is closed are:
Both John’s Lake Loop and Avalanche Lake are available from the connecting trail that starts from the Sperry Trail and leads off to the left through the woods paralleling the road, but it makes the roundtrip from Avalanche something like 16 miles, so these aren’t small undertakings.
Before the snow flies you can also ride your bike up the Going to the Sun Road as well, but be sure to check for times and closures in case of construction.