Saint Mary Falls Trail Glacier National Park Montana St. Mary Falls Waterfall Saint Mary Lake Trail

This 3-mile hike on the east side of Glacier National Park presents intimate views of two waterfalls on creeks flowing into Saint Mary Lake. Before the Mississippi-bound water from the Continental Divide reaches the grand lake, it spills over Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls, two easy-to-reach gushers that can be picked up as a pair. The trail descends 200 feet to Saint Mary Falls and then climbs 250 feet to Virginia Falls. Reverse that up and down on the return of this scenic out-and-back hike past cascades and two waterfalls.

From the Saint Mary Falls Trailhead on Going-to-the-Sun Road, hike downhill on Saint Mary Falls Cutoff Trail through a forest of firs, spruces, and cedars gracing the west end of Saint Mary Lake. A stretch of exposed rock near the top of the trail deliver broad westward views toward Gunsight Pass, Reynolds Mountain, and more peaks along the Continental Divide.

Glacier National Park Trail
Reynolds Mountain towers over the start of the trail

A third of a mile from the top, hit a junction and make a right and an immediate left, heading west on Saint Mary Lake Trail toward Saint Mary Falls. After 0.8 miles of hiking, you will cross a wooden bridge spanning a rocky gorge just below the waterfall. Saint Mary Falls gushes through a rocky channel, dropping fifty thunderous feet over two tiers. Have a seat on the open rock and watch the water churn out of the gorge and down the mountain toward the lake. This is the shorter, more powerful of the two waterfalls. This impressive setting would make a satisfying turnaround point, but there is a second waterfall just ahead, so keep hiking.

Saint Mary Falls Glacier National Park
Saint Mary Falls

Continue south, dipping past a small brook before climbing to an area of exposed granite and a string of cascades. Though Virginia Falls is further upstream, this is a nice place to sit down for a snack. The bare rock offers views across the forest toward Saint Mary Lake.

Progress up the trail, leaving the creek for a tranquil forest. Climb a switchback up to a junction just below Virginia Falls. Turn left on Saint Mary Lake Trail, crossing a footbridge for a view up the creek toward the waterfall. Virginal Falls tumbles 100 feet down a string of tiers. Explore upstream from the bridge for even better views of the waterfall. Hikers may also continue straight at the junction up to Virinia Falls View Point at the top of the Virginia Falls.

Virginia Falls Glacier National Park
Virginia Falls

Once you’ve seen both waterfalls, return the way you came. There is no fee to hike to Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls, but there is an entrance fee for Glacier National Park.

To get to the trailhead: The trail begins from a pullout on the south side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, 6.8 miles east of the Continental Divide at Logan Pass and 10.7 miles west of the Saint Mary Visitor Center. The trailhead for Saint Mary Falls is well marked and includes the Saint Mary Falls Shuttle Stop.

Trailhead address: Going-To-The-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Browning, MT 59417
Trailhead coordinates: 48.674307, -113.608719

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkSaint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkVirginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkVirginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkVirginia Falls Trail in Glacier National ParkVirginia Falls Trail in Glacier National Park

These photos were taken in September of 2011. Click to enlarge.
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One Comment on Saint Mary Falls and Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park

  1. Josh says:

    Epic pictures and recap! I would love to get myself up here!

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