Also known as Diamond Falls and Lincoln Falls, the Beaver Chief Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Glacier National Park.
However, thanks to its remote location in the Flathead County region of the park, the falls are heavily under traveled compared to some of the preserve’s more popular attractions.
Despite the 7-mile minimum hike required to reach them, the approximately 1344-foot waterfall is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Glacier National Park.
Beaver Chief Falls, Flathead County Stats
- Elevation: 5880 feet
- Latitude: 48.5944
- Longitude: -113.7622
- How to Get There: The best view of the falls is from Lincoln Lake, while the top of the falls is accessible along Lake Ellen Wilson. Both are accessible via the Lake McDonald Trailhead.
With no road access, the only way to Beaver Chief Falls is on foot. Be sure to bring your hiking shoes since the shortest trail leading to the falls is a 7-mile endeavor from the Lake McDonald Trailhead and follows the Lincoln Lake Trail through the rigorous landscape to the foot of the waterfall.
Alternatively, visitors can take the longer trail to the top of the falls via Gunsight Pass. While the view of the falls is not as spectacular, Lake Ellen Wilson features one of the park’s best campgrounds and offers idyllic views of the landscape below.
The Lake Ellen Wilson Trail offers a better vantage point for multi-day hikers as several trails can be followed, branching to other regions of the park.
The Lincoln Lake Trail, on the other hand, does require significant backtracking before offering additional trail access.
Beaver Chief Falls, Montana, offers fantastic fishing opportunities in both lakes servicing the landmark. In Lincoln Lake, wranglers can expect to find indigenous species of Brook Trout, Bull Trout, and Westslope Cutthroat Trout.
Meanwhile, Lake Ellen Wilson feeds the falls and offers superb fishing opportunities for Brook Trout but not much else. Still, the spot provides a tranquil location for casting a line while enjoying the breathtaking views of Lincoln Lake below.
Backcountry campsites at either end of the falls offer great resting points to spend the night after a long day of hiking.
Those visiting the top of the cascading cliff will pitch their tents at the Lake Ellen Wilson Campgrounds, while those seated below will camp at the Lincoln Lake Campground.
Also located nearby are the Gunsight Lake Campgrounds and the Sperry Chalet Campgrounds. Both offer great alternatives for those who would prefer to look elsewhere for a spot to spend the night visiting the higher lake.
Permits are required when camping in Glacier National Park’s backcountry. So be sure to apply before visiting.
Guided horseback riding trails are operated throughout the park by Swan Mountain Outfitters. While no riding trails bring guests directly to the falls, the service can significantly decrease walking time.
From their Lake McDonald Corral, Swan Mountain Outfitters offers their riding trail to Sperry Chalet. The whole ride requires a day to complete starting at 8:00 am.
Upon arriving at their destination, guests should plan to spend the night at the nearby campground before completing the final 3 miles on foot to Lake Ellen Wilson.
Unfortunately, there are no riding trails leading to Lincoln Lake, and those looking to explore the bottom of the falls will have to stick to reaching it on foot.
Lincoln Lake Trail
Starting at the Trailhead by Sprague Creek Campground along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Lincoln Lake Trail is a 7-mile out and back path that leads directly to the falls.
There are only two intersecting paths along the hike. After about 1.4 miles along the trail, visitors will reach the first crossroads, at which point they will take the path going straight,
After an additional 2.4 miles, the path will again fork, with the falls located along the way leading to the left. Continuing for another 3 miles, hikers will finally emerge at the foot of Lincoln Lake, where they will be rewarded with amazing views of the falls in all their glory.
At this point, visitors can either spend the night at the campground or return along the 7-mile path back to the trailhead.
Ellen Wilson Via Gunsight Pass
To reach Lake Ellen Wilson, visitors must first pass through the Sperry Chalets.
From the Lake McDonald Lodge Trailhead, visitors will either venture on foot or by horse along the 6-mile trail.
From the chalets, hikers will continue on foot along the trail for another 3 miles until they reach a fork in the road.
On the path to the right, hikers only have a short jaunt down the trail until they reach the lake and the upper viewpoint of Beaver Chief Falls.