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