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We receive many emails from Glacier Park visitors wanting advice on hiking Glacier National Park Trails during the month of June- specifically asking about the amount of snow on these Glacier Park Trails. Visitors are always hopeful that this would be a great month due to the beauty of spring and because there will likely be less visitors during this time. Our response to their question is probably not what they want to hear….
JUNE IS USUALLY TOO EARLY!!!
We have found that most of the Trails in Glacier Park are usually still covered in snow, and nearly every trail that involves a mountain pass is usually not passable unless the hiker is extremely experienced in snow and ice hiking and is an expert in self-arrest using a mountain axe. Crossing snow fields in Glacier National Park can be extremely dangerous and can result in serious injuries or death.
The other problem is route finding. Since most of the Glacier Park Trails are still covered in snow, finding the actual trail can be extremely difficult, and if you are not very familiar with the particular Glacier Park trail that you are considering, you will more than likely lose the trail. This can quickly result in an extremely dangerous situation.
WHAT ABOUT LATE JUNE?
Of course every year is different because it depends on just how much snow falls during the winter and early spring, but we have found that usually most of the higher Glacier National Park Trails that involve a mountain pass are still very much covered in snow and we believe are too dangerous for the average hiker to travel on. A classic example of one of the typical higher elevation Glacier Park Hikes is the Highline Trail. Two years ago this popular trail did not open until mid August, and last year it was early August before this trail was open- all because of the snow hazards that remained on this extremely popular trail.
WHEN IS IT “OK” TO HIKE MOST GLACIER PARK TRAILS?
That’s a hard question to answer because it all depends on how much snow fell on Glacier National Park during the winter and early spring season. From our experience, if it’s a typical snow year, by mid July a fair amount of higher elevation trails are open and safe. But again we want to stress that it all depends on the year. We strongly recommend that before you get on any of the Glacier National Park Trails during the months of June and July, ask a ranger at one of the many ranger stations or the St. Mary Visitor Center, Logan Pass Visitor Center or Apgar Visitor Center.
SNOW, SNOW AND MORE SNOW
What’s deceiving is there may not be much snow throughout the lower elevations, so it might appear to the unsuspecting visitor that it’s likely most of the Glacier Park Trails are clear and ready to go. They don’t realize what 1,500 feet in elevation can do to the snow levels. Therefore, your particular Glacier Park trail will be completely snow-free initially, but once this trail begins to gain in vertical elevation, snow begins to become an issue, and quite often the hiker will run into a snow hazard that is simply not safe to pass through.
The bottom line is Glacier National Park receives so much snow each winter and early spring that many of the Glacier Park Trails are still covered in snow all the way through June and into early to mid July. This is especially true for those Glacier National Park Hikes that involve a mountain pass such as Siyeh Pass Trail, Swiftcurrent Pass Trail, the Highline Trail, etc., or other high elevation trails such as Ptarmigan Tunnel and Grinnell Glacier Trail.
Therefore, if you are an avid hiker and are wanting to enjoy Glacier National Park Trails at their best, you may want to consider planning your vacation no earlier in the season than mid July or later, just to be safe. If you are interested in the many overnight backpacking Hikes in Glacier National Park, especially in the Northern Wilderness (Boulder Pass Trail, Fifty Mountain, etc.), you may want to consider scheduling your trip during the month of August to play it safe, and even early August may still have several high elevation snow hazards that are still not passable. Mid August is the safest time to enjoy Glacier Park Multi-Day Hikes.
We hope you find this information to be useful to you.
For details on all the Glacier Park Hikes, click here.
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