McDonald Creek Trail

McDonald Creek

The McDonald Creek trailhead in Glacier National Park is located at the head of Lake McDonald where you turn onto N. Lake McDonald Road, cross the creek and see the trailhead sign. This is a great early season hike when not much else is open as well as a great short hike to be done by people of all skill levels.

The trail from the trailhead wanders through the dense wet forest of the McDonald Creek valley and joins a spur trail by a nice log park bench that goes left up the creek or right along the creek to the road past some great falls (which I recommend heading that way on your way back to your car).

Heading up left, you continue on up the creek and have the opportunity to see all the stops that the automobile folks get, but much closer. Be careful getting too close to the creek as drowning is the number one cause of death in the park. By Sacred Dancing Falls, you can walk over a horse bridge to get a great view of the creek and the falls.

Continuing upstream, you’ll have ample opportunity to see Harlequin Ducks which migrate here in the spring to nest as well as some other waterfowl. You’ll pass a beaver pond, a feeder creek that can either be a real creek or a dried up bed depending upon the time of season and amount of snowpack.

While the trail used to head all the way up McDonald Creek, today it just kind of ends at some cool rapids where you can head on back to your car.

The first hike of many led me down McDonald Creek with a few friends from the Glacier National Park Fund. I stuck around longer to get some extra footage and had a bit of adventure with some water covering the trail. I’m guessing that’s going to be par for the course with an above average snowpack this year.

For more information about the Glacier National Park Fund, click here

McDonald Creek Trip
Mossy forest

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6 responses to “McDonald Creek”

  1. Love this short little hike, and when it puts you out across from the observation deck on the Sun Road, it really gives you a different view of McDonald Creek. People on the observation deck may just ask you how you got over there. The beaver dams are pretty cool as well.

    1. hike734 Avatar

      I agree! The big rock outcropping by the observation deck is great for pictures and to get a sense for how much water is going through there. I also just loved the lushness of the forest.

  2. Merry Lynn Avatar
    Merry Lynn

    Great job, Jake! Looking forward to see where you are going next.

    1. hike734 Avatar


  3. Mike Kinsella Avatar
    Mike Kinsella

    Awesome video of dippers and harlequins- two of my favorite birds! Are you going to do a reverse countdown as you go along, i. e. 725 to go, 715 to go, etc.? If so, you might add percentage done (2%).

    By the way, driving while videotaping…not such a hot idea. There’s a lot of blue hairs in baseball caps driving in Glacier- you need to pay attention! One man’s opinion.

  4. […] May 17th, 2011, I started my hiking project along McDonald Creek. It was a typical Spring day in Montana that rained some and showed glimpses of the summer sun. It […]

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