Glacier National Park is known for its stunning mountain vistas, roaring rivers, and pristine lakes. Carving their way through these magnificent wonders are incredible waterfalls that help to shape the terrain.
One such waterfall in Glacier is Hidden Falls, a beautiful waterfall accessible on foot near Lake Josephine, one of the most accessible and most popular locales within the park.
Details About Hidden Falls
One of the most accessible waterfalls in the park, Hidden Falls is a beautiful choice for families and people looking for just a short nature trail to enjoy while in the park.
- Location: Glacier National Park, Glacier County, Montana
- Website: https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/hiddenfalls.htm
- Longitude: W113.69569°
- Latitude: N48.76595°
- Elevation: 4967 feet
- Nearby Features: Lake Josephine, Grinnell Glacier Trail, Swiftcurrent Lake, Cataract Creek, Many Glacier Hotel
- Pets: Not allowed on trail
Can I Drive to Hidden Falls?
Hidden Falls is not accessible directly via vehicle. Instead, you may drive to Many Glacier Hotel and join either the lake shuttle or take the hiking trail from the trailhead located there.
Are There Trails to Hidden Falls?
According to the folks at Hiking Glacier, the Hidden Falls trail is an easy, moderately short trail that most folks can enjoy comfortably while visiting Glacier National Park. The trail begins near Swiftcurrent Lake at the south end of Many Glacier Hotel.
The hike itself is about 7.5 miles if you strictly go on foot. However, if you’d rather save yourself some energy, grab one of the shuttle boats at Swiftcurrent Lake and shave off 5 miles of the hike. Continue on at the Lake Josephine shuttle boat and then begin the hike on the other side.
From the south end of Lake Josephine, take the trail that heads off to the right. Follow the trail until you hit the Grinnell Glacier Trail a short distance away. Follow that trail straight on until you come to Hidden Falls.
Most of the trail meanders through a quiet forest with a few small streams and thimbleberry patches. For your pit stops, be sure to look out for the pit toilets about 2/3 mile from the boat dock.
Continue straight at this juncture to continue to Hidden Falls. Then, you’ll come to the suspension bridge that crosses Cataract Creek. Shortly after the bright, there’s a side trail. Take that side trail to Hidden Falls.
Beware of the short, steep ascent just before the falls after this trail junction.
- Distance taking shuttle boats: 2.5 miles roundtrip
- Distance without taking shuttle boats: 7.5+ miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Challenge rating: Easy
- Fees: There are fees for both entering Glacier National Park and for the shuttle boats
Are There Lakes Near Hidden Falls?
As mentioned, there are two large lakes on the way to Hidden Falls, including Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake. You may hike around the lakes or take a boat, shuttle, or tour across the lakes to continue on toward Hidden Falls.
Additionally, throughout Glacier National Park, there are many more lakes and rivers, streams, and creeks for your enjoyment.
Lake Grinnell is further down the trail to hike toward Hidden Falls and within the park, there are around 40 other lakes you can visit while you’re Glacier.
Some are hiking access only, while others may be reached by vehicle and a short walk.
What Can I Do at Hidden Falls?
Because Hidden Falls is comfortably nestled into Glacier National Park, there are many, many activities you and your travel companions can enjoy in and around Hidden Falls. The park is known for being one of the most wonderful regions of the country for outdoor activities, backcountry adventures, wildlife spotting, and fishing.
Whether you opt to take the shuttle boats across Lake Josephine and Swiftcreek Lake or not, there are many other boating opportunities nearby and beyond throughout the park. At Many Glacier Hotel, there are vendors with rentals of canoes, kayaks, and other boats.
You may bring your own boat with you, as well, or rent from a local company outside the park and bring in boats of various types for use on the many lakes and streams within the boundaries of Glacier.
Swimming is a popular activity throughout the park, though it’s recommended never to swim in waterfalls here, due to the strong currents and potential danger.
Instead, visit one of the lakes for a swim. Just be prepared for some cold water! Many of the lakes and streams are fed by glacier runoff.
Throughout Glacier, there are many campsites for all sorts of camping. Bring your RV, pitch a tent, or hike it to a backcountry spot for a truly wild experience.
Many campsites in the park are reservable, but many are first-come, first-serve, so plan ahead and arrive early to make sure you’ll have a spot!
Be sure to use appropriate precautions as you camp, though, including protecting your food from bears with tamper-proof containers and keep emergency supplies on hand.
Many wild animals live in Glacier National Park and are often seen along the hiking trails around Lake Josephine, Grinnell Lake, Hidden Falls, and nearby.
Some of the wildlife you might spot could include grizzlies, mountain goats, elk, marmots, deer, moose, eagles, hummingbirds, and pikas.
In the many streams, rivers, and lakes throughout Glacier, there are fabulous fishing holes. Many outfitters in the area are prepared to take you to the best spots in the park, or you can go on your own.
Scenic Drives and Vistas
Hidden Falls isn’t accessible by car, but there are many scenic vistas throughout the park that dot the roads throughout.
Take a long drive to enjoy the splendid beauty or pull off at one of the many overlooks that offer incredible views of the mountains, lakes, and even waterfalls throughout Glacier.
Many trails throughout Glacier are suitable for biking. It’s recommended you bring a mountain bike or hybrid bike for these trails, however, and keep the road bikes (with the skinny, smooth tires) to the paved roads.
Several outfitters can provide horseback riding throughout the park. The designated trails suitable for riding can be accessed by horse owners as well, with two campgrounds nearby at Arrowhead Ranch, 11 miles east of Babb, and Johnson’s Campground and RV Park near Saint Mary.
Some of the outfitters that bring trail rides into the park include:
Visiting Hidden Falls in Glacier County, Montana
Hidden Falls is a beautiful waterfall that most folks can access within Glacier National Park. The stunning Falls are accessible by hiking (or a boat ride and then short hike) via the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
The trail is easy enough for families with kids to enjoy, with the lovely boat ride across Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake to get you to the shorter portion of the trail.
As you head over for the afternoon, be sure to:
- Wear appropriate footwear – comfortable, closed toes, with ankle and sole support
- Wear weather-appropriate attire – likely needing layers to shed as the day passes
- Bring snacks or meals, depending on how long you plan to hike
- Bring plenty of water
- Do not hike alone
- Bring emergency gear – a first aid kit, cellphone, or other means of contacting people, matches, etc.
- Wear sunblock, sunglasses, and other sun protection
Do you know this trail and waterfall? Tell us more in the comments!