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Akaiyan Falls, Montana

There are over 200 beautiful cascading waterfalls riddled throughout the 1-million preserved acres of Glacier National Park.

Some of these waterfalls, such as Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls, have become iconic destinations for visitors to the park. Others have remained tucked away in the park’s backcountry, preserved for only the most intrepid visitors to explore.

One such hidden gem is the Akaiyan Falls, located in the Flathead County portion of the National Park.

Featuring a series of cascading falls along a tributary of Sprague Creek, the Akaiyan Falls is only accessible via the Sperry Trail, but the falls themselves can be spotted from vantage points along Gunsight Pass and from the Sperry Chalets.

Akaiyan Falls, Flathead County Stats

akaiyan falls stats

  • Elevation: 6898 feet
  • Latitude: 61393
  • Longitude: -113.78577
  • How to Get There: The lookout point by Sperry Chalets can be reached via Gunsight Pass, while the falls are only accessible along the Sperry Trail.

Recreation Activities

Hiking

Hiking shoes are essential when visiting Akaiyan Falls, Montana. The viewpoint of Sperry Chalets alone is a rigorous 6.2-mile hike from the Sperry Trailhead across the street from the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Those that wish to receive a closer view of the falls can expect to hike the additional 8.9-mile trail to Akaiyan Lake via Gunsight Pass and Sperry Lake.

While the entirety of the path is a beautiful hike, the falls are about halfway to Akaiyan Lake. Therefore, visitors do not need to complete the entire trail if the waterfall is their goal destination.

Of course, these are just a fraction of the hiking trails weaving through Glacier National Park. When visiting Akaiyan Falls, be sure to venture along other paths and explore the many more wonderous attractions of the park.

Horseback Riding

Not up for the mile-long hike to the waterfalls? Don’t worry. While bikes and vehicles are not allowed along the trails, horses are more than welcome. And luckily, there are plenty of local outfitters and tour operators willing to rent out their steads.

Located by the Sperry Trailhead, Swan Mountain Outfitters offers horseback trail rides to Sperry Chalets starting from their Lake McDonald Corral. Entering at the Sperry Trailhead, the ride follows the 6.2-mile path through Gunsight Pass and requires a full day’s ride to arrive at the chalets.

The Swan Mountain Outfitters do not offer trail rides along the Sperry Lake Trail to Akaiyan Lake. For this part of the journey, visitors will have to travel on foot. It is advised to rest at the Chalets before proceeding to the falls.

Camping

While the Sperry Chalets offer rooms to passing visitors, guests to the park are also invited to partake in backcountry camping. Unfortunately, dispersed camping is operated through the National Park Service and requires a permit.

Be sure to visit the Glacier National Park website for more information on camping regulations and apply for a license.

Trail Routes

Sperry Via Gunsight Pass Trail

sperry via gunsight pass trail

The first step in visiting the Akaiyan Falls is getting to the observation point at Sperry Chalets. To do so, visitors will have to take the Sperry Via Gunsight Pass Trail.

Starting at the Lake McDonald Lodge, the path is a moderate to strenuous 12.4 miles out and back trail with an elevation gain of 3,360 feet.

The hike guides visitors along a continuous incline through the park’s forest before changing into an open landscape terrain for the final 2.2 miles.

The out and back trail culminates at the Sperry Chalets, where visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the waterfalls from their vantage point along Gunsight Mountain. For many hikers, this marks the end of their journey to the waterfalls and will begin their 6.2-mile journey back to the trailhead.

However, those seeking a closer view of the falls will continue their adventure along the nearby Akaiyan Lake Via Sperry Lake Trail.

Akaiyan Lake Via Sperry Lake Trail

The total length of the Akaiyan Lake Via Sperry Lake Trail is about 3.5 miles out and back and features an elevation gain of about 1,578 feet.

However, since the waterfalls are about halfway between Sperry Chalets and Akaiyan Lake, visitors will only have to hike about 1.7 miles to reach their destination.

With that said, Akaiyan Lake is a beautiful destination in itself, and visitors willing to venture the entire trail’s length will not be disappointed with the myriad of natural wonders the lake features.

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