Planning a trip to Glacier National Park? Glacier NP is my favorite national park and we’ve been fortunate enough to visit with our children three times in their short lives (currently ages 10 and 12). Here are our top picks for kid-friendly hikes and stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and throughout this stunning park.

Logan Pass Visitors Center – Hidden Lake Overlook Trail

The 2.7 mile out and back hiking trail behind Logan Pass Visitors Center is an absolute must for everyone and doable with kids. On a sunny day on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, you can expect to see epic views, adorably fuzzy and chubby marmots (my kids were obsessed), small waterfalls and often mountain goats. We’ve seen Bighorn sheep here twice. This hike is considered moderately challenging due to the elevation gain but is mostly boardwalks. We’ve only been in mid-late July when the snow is melted, creating small waterfalls and streams along the path. If you go earlier in the season, snow pack might make this hike slippery, trickier with kids and perhaps not advisable.

It’s a steady climb from the Logan Pass Visitors Center and the views are worth it! We first hiked this with our kids when they were 4 and 6. We carried our 4 year old part of the way but let our kids guide the pace to minimize carrying. Make sure to arrive as early as 6 a.m. for a parking spot. They close the parking lot when it’s full and it can sometimes take until late afternoon for it to reopen. Consider an afternoon hike here if you can’t find a spot in the morning.

On one trip, I took my parents in their 70’s and my children (ages 9 and 11). We arrived at 7 a.m. and the lot was full. I dropped everyone off and drove back west along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. I found parking on the side of the road about one mile away (only a few spots left) and walked/jogged back to meet them. This worked out well and I would recommend it if you can’t get that coveted parking spot.

Baring Falls, St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls

This trail, just shy of 6 miles there and back, is moderately challenging with excellent views and beautiful waterfalls. Our 9 and 11 year old’s easily made it to Baring Falls and St. Mary Falls but the trek to Virginia Falls tested them a bit.

We parked at the Sun Point Nature Trail parking area. Others have recommended parking near the Siyeh Pass Trailhead/Sunrift Gorge but we did not have luck finding a spot there. If you get a spot, it’s a shorter hike down to Baring Falls. Make sure to have your bear spray on this trail. If you park at the Sun Point Nature Trail parking, less than one minute into your hike, take time to enjoy the gorgeous view of the blue green Saint Mary Lake before continuing west toward the falls. 

About one mile down the trail, you’ll reach a footbridge that crosses over Baring Creek. You can hear the rushing water as you approach and will be treated to Baring Falls. You can stand in the spray or if you are feeling brave, inch your way carefully along the rock outcropping on the west side of the waterfall to get even closer to the falls (pictured).

After you’ve cooled off, continue your hike toward St. Mary Falls. We packed sandwiches and brought them out at St. Mary Falls. What an incredible picnic spot with the cool breeze coming off of the stunning waterfall. The lovely aqua-green color of the waterfall pool (pictured) was so picturesque and gave us the perfect respite before continuing our journey to Virginia Falls.

Just when you don’t think you can hear “are we there yet” one more time, you start to hear the thundering Virginia Falls before you can see it. As you cross the final footbridges to reach them, it takes your breath away! I highly recommend walking toward the spray to enjoy the chilly blast after your hard work on the climb up. This is the best waterfall hike in Glacier National Park and one I look forward to doing again!

Many Glacier, Swiftcurrent Trail and Fishercap Lake

If you want to see moose in Glacier National Park, this is likely your spot! We have been fortunate enough to see moose relaxing in Fishercap Lake on two visits to Glacier National Park. We like to explore the Many Glacier area on a separate day from the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Park near the Swiftcurrent Trailhead. You can use the restrooms and grab ice cream if the kids need a pick-me-up. You’ll see signs for the trailhead on the west side of the parking lot. Just a short trek away from the parking lot you will find several paths that take you down to Fishercap Lake. On our first visit, we sat on the water’s edge and watched several moose in the water. They were huge and peaceful and we enjoyed watching them for nearly an hour. 

Consider continuing on the Swiftcurrent Trail toward Redrock Falls. Make sure to have your bear spray handy as this trail does close at times due to bear activity. I would also recommend bug spray as this trail can be buggy in the peak of summer. We made it to Redrock Falls and the kids enjoyed climbing around on the rocks. We hoped to go further on this trail but we’d already hiked a lot and our kids were ready to call it a day. We turned back to see moose again in Fishercap Lake and grabbed ice cream in the little shop next to Nell’s. We look forward to returning when our kids are a bit older and are able to hike longer distances to try the Highline and Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

Trail of the Cedars

The Trail of Cedars hike is another busy hike for a reason. Parking is easier here (though parking lots can still fill up) and the payoff is instant. From your first steps onto this trail, you are greeted with the most beautiful crisp air and nature smells amidst the western hemlock and red cedars. It’s like a scene from a movie with lush ferns and moss in this stunning forest. I love pausing here to enjoy it in moments without crowds. If you are traveling with little ones or seniors, enjoy the wheelchair accessible boardwalk trail.

From here, you can venture on a short hike to a beautiful waterfall. If you’ve packed snacks or lunch and are up for a more challenging hike, continue on the trail to Avalanche Lake. We first pushed on for this hike when our kids were 4 and 6. Their little legs got tired but the payoff was worth it. The hike to Avalanche Lake has little elevation gains and is about 1.5 miles beyond the waterfall views. It’s totally worth it if your kids can make it. My husband ended up carrying our 4 year old quite a long way. I would pack sandwiches and snacks so you can be leisurely and enjoy stops along the way to make this more enjoyable for the young ones. When we reached Avalanche Lake, we were afforded perfect views of the surrounding mountains. The boys could have spent all day throwing rocks in the water and splashing around. It was very cold water but refreshing and fun.

While at Avalanche Lake, the park rangers shared that several bears were spotted on the trail around the lake so we didn’t opt to continue around the lake. As always, you should carry bear spray at Glacier National Park. If bear activity hasn’t been reported, you can make your way around the lake for a quiet spot to yourselves. Be mindful with kids that the hike back to the car will feel long. Consider taking trekking poles like our favorites here on Amazon https://amzn.to/3W6KbuQ and a CamelBak https://amzn.to/3zrIJdu. These make kids feel like explorers and are great Christmas or birthday gifts if you know you are planning a hiking trip.

Lake McDonald, West Glacier, Golfing to the Sun Mini Golf

When in West Glacier, don’t miss dipping your toes in Lake McDonald. Our boys could have thrown rocks in the water here all day and loved it. The colors of the rocks are beautiful and we found a little spot with nobody around so this was a highlight to take in the quiet beauty as a family.

Another highlight in West Glacier, Golfing to the Sun Mini Golf. This is a newer addition just outside the park. My kids were excited to do something other than hiking. Grab a Huckleberry sundae to enjoy on the picnic tables and have fun with this nostalgic and informational mini golf course in West Glacier, Montana. It’s fun to learn more about the history of the park and the mountains as a backdrop are pretty spectacular!

Vehicle Reservation for Glacier National Park

Keep in mind, you will need a vehicle reservation between 6am and 3pm if you plan to access the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West entrance (past the Apgar Check Point). The east entrance/St. Mary entrance does not require reservations. You also need a park pass to enter. 

If you don’t score yours in advance, don’t worry. Additional tickets are made available for the following day at recreation.gov at 7 p.m. MDT. I recommend being logged in on your phone and laptop with your credit card information saved so you can snag them immediately at 7 p.m., as they go very quickly. I’ve done this several times and usually get them. On the days I don’t, we just make that an early rising day to get into the park before reservations are required (by 6 a.m.)