Lake Sherburne is located on the east side of Montana’s Glacier National Park in the highly picturesque Many Glacier Valley. Named after one of the first settlers in the region, this 6-mile-long manmade reservoir was formed from efforts to regulate the Swiftcurrent Creek flow between 1914 and 1921.
The lake has plenty of shorelines to offer and is set just inside the east entrance point to Many Glacier. If you are approaching from the direction of Babb along Highway 89, you will head about 7 miles along Many Glacier Road in a westerly direction to get to the lake.
Available road access to Many Glacier is the main factor likely to affect potential visits at some times of the year. Thus the best time to visit Lake Sherburne is throughout the warmer months when the outdoor recreation can be enjoyed to its utmost.
Early autumn is a great time to catch vibrant colors of the surrounding flora, and tall mountains provide beautiful backdrops for this scenic lake, which has reasonably easy road access in good weather by simply pulling in off the main road.
Needless to say, the lake is a prime spot for water sports including boating and fishing. All kinds of boats are allowed here although there is a spot of difficulty with access in that there are no boat ramps—so traffic is limited to some degree to canoes and kayaks.
The entire area is part of a wildlife corridor in Glacier National Park, thus visitors have a high likelihood of spotting the odd moose or bear.
Lake Sherburne Stats
- 6-mile long lake
- National Park campground
- Open year-round
Main Attractions at Lake Sherburne
It’s more than fair to say that most visitors to Lake Sherburne are passing through the vicinity by way of one or more of the many trails in and around the lake.
They are usually either hiking or horseback riding or they come for specific lake recreation of some form or other that could take the direction of fishing or boating.
As we said before the lack of boat ramp access does put something of a limit on the number of larger boats in the water.
Things to do at Lake Sherburne
This is an easy one–Many Glacier Campground is just down the road from the eastern shores of Lake Sherburne.
The seasonal 110-site campground usually opens in late May until mid-September, with more primitive options being available after that until the end of October.
The lake is ideal for boating activity, and motorboats are permitted. But there are no boat launches to speak of–in which case the lake is really most suited to canoes and kayaks.
Due to the size of the lake, logic dictates that a boat is necessary to have any chance of fishing this lake properly. There isn’t actually a boat dock on Sherburne though, which does limit the options somewhat.
The choice of vessel for many depends largely on whatever they can get down to the lake from the nearby Many Glacier Road. With that in mind, it’s fair to say that for the majority of anglers inflatable rafts, canoes or pontoon boats are the best option for this lake, with the wind being consistently too aggressive for a float tube.
The fishing experience on the lake is limited to hand-held rods only, and that adds to the challenge of landing a decent-sized brook trout or northern pike, although the fluctuating levels of the lake hamper the brook trout fishing already to some degree.
Another restriction is on bait–artificial only is allowed here, and many anglers report having the best success with nymphs, larvae, or dry flies mimicking local hatches. There are also keep limits of 5 fish per day.
The region is surrounded by wetlands, which means that various species of wildlife treat it as something of a thoroughfare.
It’s common to catch glimpses of moose and bears—some of the surrounding regions are prime grizzly habitats–and there could also likely be glimpses of bighorn sheep and trumpeter swans.
If you want to start nearby there are many local outfitters including the Many Glacier Corral behind the main parking lot in Many Glacier Valley, just above the hotel.
You can imagine some of the views available around these parts from the back of a horse, and rides are conducted from the corral, usually only at a walking pace.
Hiking Trails at Lake Sherburne
This is a part of the state where you can immerse yourself in the amazing mountain scenery—and what better way to do that than by hiking one of the many trails close to Lake Sherburne.
You can take your pick from various trails in and around the incredibly scenic region according to their length, terrain, and level of difficulty.
The hike to Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park covers a 12.6-mile round trip containing elevation gains in excess of 1400 feet.
The route is generally considered moderately challenging and sets out from the Piegan Pass/Cracker Lake Trailhead at the parking lot’s southern end. The lot is just above the Many Glacier Hotel. This is a popular area for hiking and backpacking so there is a high likelihood of encountering others along the way.
After heading out on this hike you’ll reach a split in the trail pretty soon, and Cracker Lake hikers should go left at this junction.
For the first couple of miles on this trail, you’ll be sharing it with horses, and this section can get extremely muddy at certain points throughout the year—either that or it will be dusty and deeply rutted.
You also pass through a thick forest that opens out into the canopy that provides some outstanding views of the Cracker Flats area after about one mile. The trail does have something of a reputation for bear sightings, which is not surprising in prime grizzly habitat.
An old mine that remains a historic point of interest tourism-wise is close to the end of the trail, which finally reaches the shore of the lake’s far end just beyond the old mine. There is a side trail leading down from here that culminates at the backcountry-style, 3-site campground.
The peak times to use this trail are May through October—and with its trees, meadows, possibly snow-capped mountain scenes, and vibrant blue lake at the end—you’ll be more than glad that you did!
The Swiftcurrent Pass Trail
If you are a fan of these longer trails you might want to stretch out towards Babb and pick up this 15-mile, out-and-back trail that is generally considered a challenging route.
The trail takes the best of them around 7 hours to top off, but nevertheless is a popular route for backpacking and hiking, as well as birding.
It is possible to find some solitude along here during quieter periods, and the best times to use this trail are March through October.
Check out some of the other trails in the Many Glacier Valley HERE.