Includes Beaver Chief Falls
Lincoln Lake with Beaver Chief Falls, Glacier National Park
Includes Beaver Chief Falls
Trailhead: Going To The Sun Road, 2 miles west of Lake McDonald Lodge.
Distance: 8.0 miles (one way)
Elevation Gain: 2,250 vertical feet
Elevation Loss: 800 vertical feet
The hike to Lincoln Lake in Glacier National Park is an 8 mile (one way) Glacier Park day hike or if you desire, an overnight backpacking experience because there is a back country campground located at Lincoln Lake. Without question the highlight of this Glacier Park hike to Lincoln Lake is Beaver Chief Falls. Being one of the tallest waterfalls in Glacier National Park at 1,344 feet high, Beaver Chief Falls spills out of Lake Ellen Wilson from above and pours over a massive headwall into Lincoln Lake, which is 1,344 feet directly below Lake Ellen Wilson. From the west shore of Lincoln Lake, you will get a perfect view of these magnificent Glacier National Park falls.
Finding The Trailhead
The trailhead to Lincoln Lake is located along the west side of the Going To The Sun Road, about 2 miles west of Lake McDonald Lodge. There is a good parking area right at the trailhead for you to safely leave your vehicle. There is an alternate route to Lincoln Lake which involves the Lincoln Creek Trailhead, which is located across the Middle Fork of the Flathead River on Highway 2, about six miles east of West Glacier. However this route is ridiculously further than the Lincoln Lake Trail option, and is not a good choice for hiking to Lincoln Lake in our opinion.
Lincoln Lake Trailhead (mile 0.0)
Just like most of the Lake McDonald Area hikes, the trail abruptly begins to climb as it works its way up to the Snyder Ridge ridge line.
This is quite a steep hike as the trail gains over 2,000 vertical feet in only 1.7 miles. With this being said, we strongly recommend that you be in good physical condition before attempting this Glacier Park hike.
The old growth forest on this north slope of Snyder Ridge is lush with ferns and other undergrowth, and the trees are mainly cedar, larch, black cottonwoods and hemlocks. Even though the trail steeply climbs, you will hopefully be pre-occupied with the beauty of this old growth forest, making this section of the hike to Lincoln Lake a bit more pleasant.
The old growth forest on the north slope of Snyder Ridge in Glacier National Park is so pleasing to the eye that it might keep your mind off of the fact that you are climbing over 2,000 vertical feet in 1.7 miles.
Snyder Ridge Trail Junction (mile 1.7)
Once the trail to Lincoln Lake in Glacier National Park climbs over 2,000 vertical feet in 1.7 miles, you will have finally reached the Snyder Ridge ridge line, where the trail then levels off for awhile, and then begins to abruptly drop 700 vertical feet as it works its way to Lincoln Creek to the south.
At the Snyder Ridge ridge line, you will encounter the Snyder Ridge Trail junction (at mile 1.7). Keep going straight to continue onward to Lincoln Lake.
The forest opens up a bit, and you will get a glimpse of the massive Mount Jackson to the southeast, which is close to where Lincoln Lake is waiting for you.
This south slope at times is loaded with blooming bear grass, so if your timing is right, you'll have a special treat waiting for you here.
Along Snyder Ridge in Glacier National Park on your way to Lincoln Lake, you will get a glimpse of the mighty Mount Jackson and the tall ridges to its west. Notice all the Beargrass in this photo... but their not in bloom. We missed it this time by about a week!
Lincoln Creek Trail Junction (mile 4.4)
Once the trail has dropped about 700 vertical feet as it works its way down the south slope of Snyder Ridge, the trail finally levels off again.
You will soon encounter the Lincoln Creek Trail Junction at mile 4.4, where you will then take a left to continue onward to Lincoln Lake. The trail will follow Lincoln Creek all the way to Lincoln Lake, as this Glacier National Park trail very gradually and pleasantly climbs about 300 vertical feet in 3.6 miles.
If you're carrying a heavy overnight pack, you'll very much prefer this section of the trail over the section of the trail that took you up and over Snyder Ridge!
The trail along Lincoln Creek meanders through some gorgeous open meadows, where you can get another occasional glimpse of the towering Mount Jackson and the tall ridges to its west. Early in the summer, this section of the trail can be quite swampy and wet, so make sure you wear water proof hiking boots to help keep your feet somewhat dry. We hiked this trail in mid July for this page, and the trail wasn't too wet by then... but of course it all depends on the year.
Along the section of the trail that follows Lincoln Creek up to Lincoln Lake, you will see an occasional open meadow that provides glimpses of Mount Jackson in the distance. Lincoln Lake is near the base of this huge Glacier National Park mountain.
Lincoln Lake / Lincoln Lake Campground (mile 8.0)
In 3.6 miles from leaving the Lincoln Creek Trail Junction, you will finally reach Lincoln Lake and the Lincoln Lake Campground. You will notice immediately the towering Beaver Chief Falls pouring into Lincoln Lake. This incredible waterfall is one of the tallest in Glacier National Park, being 1,344 feet high. Beaver Chief Falls pours out of Lake Ellen Wilson, which rests directly above Lincoln Lake in what's called a hanging canyon or hanging cirque. The water pours straight down over the massive headwall that separates these two lakes, and the sight is awe-inspiring... especially in early summer when the snow is really melting fast.
Lincoln Lake with Beaver Chief Falls in Glacier National Park.
The Lincoln Lake Campground is a backcountry campground for Glacier Park hiking enthusiasts who want to make a multi-day hiking adventure out of this Glacier Park hike. If you'd like to stay the night at this backcountry campground, make sure you get backcountry reservations far in advance to secure your spot.