My wife, Kristen, had never been to Iceberg Lake. I’d been a couple of times, but had an off-trail trip on my radar called Shangri-La that comes out at Iceberg Lake and then you take the trail back to your car. So we drove to Many Glacier and parked at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.
A little disclaimer is that this trip involves getting off trail. If you’ve never been off trail, this is probably not the best “starter” hike. I’d recommend picking up a copy of one of Blake Passmore’s three volumes called “Climb Glacier National Park” and choose something like Mt. Oberlin or find yourself someone who is experienced as there are a lot of ways to get into trouble.
The 11 mile trip up to Shangri-La and over to Iceberg Lake starts out heading towards Swiftcurrent Pass. If you’re walking past Fishercap Lake, you should always swing on by to potentially see a moose. We did, and were rewarded with a big ol’ cow moose. According to J. Gordon Edwards book, “A Climber’s Guide to Glacier National Park”, you walk along the gradual uphill after the lake and peel off the trail when it levels off. We went a bit further to another place that I knew was accessible while others will go to the creek where a pretty well established climber’s trail exists. If you choose the former two options, the goal is to get and stay on the top of the ridge until you get to the red cliffs. Do this and you’ll have a great go of things.
Once at the cliffs, you’ll get right up to the snowfield by the waterfall and see a grassy bench to cut back onto. We didn’t do that and gave ourselves more adventure than we wanted. If you do wrap around that bench, you’ll just weave your way back and forth and up the cliffs until you pop out on the bench and to the lake in the area known as Shangri-La. It’s a wonderful spot for lunch.
From there, you head on up and over a ridge for a wonderful bird’s eye view of Iceberg Lake. The trip down to the lake is a long scree slope making for a rapid descent. From the lake, you can join the throngs back down the easy grade to the Iceberg-Ptarmigan trailhead.
Visit the full blog on Iceberg Lake here.