Hiking to Stanton Lake, near West Glacier, Montana
Stanton Lake is a pretty lake found between West Glacier and East Glacier on the outskirts of Glacier National Park. It is almost as if this little lake is still fairly undiscovered – and the short hike to get here is worth the effort for the beauty and serenity.
We hiked to Stanton Lake this weekend, and we had a great time. This is a popular hike for locals with kids who can do short hikes on their own. What a gorgeous view there is! There are mountain views from both ends of the lake. We carried a green inflatable alligator up to the lake (mostly for the Instagram weekly hashtag project, #whpforeveryoung), but the alligator ended up being really fun to use to float around this lake. This lake is the perfect temperature for a swim!!
A lot of sources state that this is an easy hike. It is easy because it is not long. However, you do hike up a steep hill (that goes for longer than you expect!) and then you drop down a hill to get to the lake. This means you have to hike up on your way in, and hike up on your way out. The hike is not difficult, but be prepared that it is not flat and easy as I read some places. You will be going uphill.
To get here: Follow Highway 2 through West Glacier. You will drive until you see the Stanton Lodge, and you will take your first right into an unmarked parking lot just after the lodge. This is found between mile markers 169 and 170. Park your car in this lot, and follow the trail. The trail will go uphill, and then you will see a wooden sign that says the Great Bear Wilderness on it on a tree pointing to the right. Stay to the right. The trail will then fork again at the bottom of the hill near the lake. This fork is marked to show you to stay right to head to Stanton Lake, or stay left to go to Grant Ridge. We stayed right of course and walked down to the lake.
This hike is 3-4 miles round-trip, depending on what source you quote. I don’t think the hike felt like 2 miles each way, so my guess is that 3 miles round-trip is probably close to being right. There are many trails leading from the main trail down to various beaches on the lake. You can’t go wrong with where you choose to go here. There is not a lot of shade, as the beach is pretty exposed to the sun throughout the day on this side. The beaches are rocky and are nice to wade right into the lake for a swim. Farther down the lake there is a small island you can swim out to.
You can also get to this lake in the winter using snowshoes. I hope to do that this coming winter. Horses are also allowed, and dogs are allowed as well. We took one of our dogs on this hike the day we did it. I love the hike to Stanton Lake because there are few people and it is a very pleasant lake. After you are finished there, stop by the Middle Fork of the Flathead River for more swimming!
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill Montana Vacation Blog