Gunsight Trail Photo Tour: Glacier's Most Beautiful Trail

Hiking in Glacier National Park is an experience like no other – Take a photo guided tour of Gunsight Pass, one of the best Glacier National Park hiking trails.

Gunsight Trail is perhaps one of the most beautiful hikes in the park.

For me personally, it was also one of the most dangerous–but that was due to my own naivety.

For 99% of Glacier National Park vacationers, Gunsight Trail is a safe, must-see hiking trail.

Glacier’s trails affords numerous opportunities to view wildlife, soak in stunning mountain vistas, and see rugged terrain unique to Montana.

Gunsight Trail gives you all of this, plus the opportunity to view Gunsight Lake, one of the most beautiful, alpine lakes in Glacier National Park.

On my last hike of Gunsight Trail, Allyson and I saw numerous animals, including:

  • Grizzly bears
  • Mountain goats
  • Bald eagles
  • Moose
  • Marmot

About Gunsight Trail

Glacier National Park hikes should only be done with adequate hiking equipment. You must be prepared for the worst, including Grizzly Bears, fickle Glacier National Park weather, and injuries.

For the vast majority of visitors, Gunsight Pass can only be done as a 2 or 3 day backpacking trip. Allyson and I completed the entire trail in one day, but barely escaped before sundown. Plus, I hurt my knee, which affected the rest of our Montana vacation.

As a day hike, you can trek to Florence Falls and Gunsight Lake before turning around.

Here are the statistics of Gunsight Trail for those hiking Glacier National Park’s best trail:

Length: 10.4 miles to Gunsight Lake (round trip), 21.4 miles to Lake McDonald Lodge

Trailhead: On Going to the Sun Road

Difficulty: Day hike to Gunsight Lake is moderate. Day hike to Lake McDonald Lodge is extremely challengingPopularity: Medium–you won’t escape the crowds here

Weather: Can change on a dime

Availability of Water: Abundant

Gunsight Trail Pictures

Here are the best photographs of the Gunsight Trail in Glacier National Park. The photo guided tour begins at Gunsight Trailhead and takes you on a detailed tour of one of Glacier National Park’s best hiking trails for extreme vacationers.

(Note: These pictures were taken over the course of the three times I hiked Gunsight Trail, so camera type/quality varies)

Gunsight Pass Trail Sign

Welcome to Gunsight Pass!

Here is the trail sign off Going to the Sun Road. It’s actually a little tricky to find. After parking your car, just follow the trail into the woods. After about 10 feet you’ll see this sign welcoming you to Glacier National Park’s best hiking trail.

Gunsight Natural Waterfall Photo

Florence Falls – What a beautiful natural waterfall

Starting off the photo guided tour is a picture of Florence Falls. Florence Falls is a short detour off of the Gunsight Trail.

The picture was taken at the end of June, so snow run-off was at its peak. This made the natural waterfall very intense.

If you are hiking Glacier National Park trails, be sure to always do any pull-offs to vistas or waterfalls–this is what you could get.

Gunsight Trail - Meadow and Mountain Photo

A meadow along Gunsight Trail

Gunsight Pass Trial has numerous meadows in the first section of the hike.

Gunsight Trail Meadows

Another meadow along Gunsight Trail

Of all Glacier National Park hiking trails, the first part of Gunsight Pass affords the most views of meadows, low rising shrubbery, and pools of water. This makes the trail one of the best for viewing Glacier National Park wildlife, such as…

Moose Pictures - Glacier National Park Wildlife

Moose are one of many animals in Glacier National Park

Moose! This Moose picture was taken on Gunsight Trail. We were lucky to have a perfect view of two big moose during the early part of our hike.

To better your chances of viewing wildlife while hiking Glacier National Park trails, be sure to leave early in the morning.

Here’s another moose picture:

Moose Images - Animals in Glacier National Park

Another moose image – Isn’t Glacier National Park wildlife amazing?

And last but not least, the best picture of a moose taken on our trip:

Pictures of a Moose

My best picture of a moose in Glacier National Park

In this moose picture, I managed to catch the moose looking at us! I love hiking Glacier National Park!

Gunsight Pass Trail Pictures

A meadow during Gunsight

Gunsight Trail Backpacking Pictures

A short climb

After the moose viewing area, the trail climbs up hill before depositing you into another area that has amazing meadow views.

Gunsight Glacier National Park Pictures

A beautiful Glacier National Park picture

After the mild climb, the land levels out and you have views like the one above. This is one reason why hiking Glacier National Park trails is so spectacular!

Gunsight Snow Mountain Photo

Snowy mountains on Gunsight Pass Trail

After, you approach this meadow here. Gunsight Pass is in between those two snowy mountains.

And Gunsight Lake is right in between them… right… about… here:

Gunsight Snow Mountain Photo

Gunsight Lake Picture

Few mountain lakes are as turquoise, beautiful and breathtaking as Gunsight Lake.

If you are doing a day hike, here is where you picnic for lunch before turning around. If you are climbing Gunsight Pass, snack on some energy bars because it’s a rough climb ahead.

But before the climb, on my last trip Allyson and I heard a Screech! above us. We looked up and spotted this eagle flying in over the pass:

Bald eagle photo

A bald eagle flies overhead!

It’s amazing watching an eagle fly over a mountain pass so effortlessly. Especially when we as humans have to patiently trod miles and climb thousands of feet.

An eagle does it with such ease.

Gunsight Trail Footbridge

The second Indiana Jones style footbridges

This footbridge goes over a river that flows from Gunsight Lake. Make sure to only cross one at a time. While stable enough for one person, two people make it sway.

Purple wildflowers on Gunsight Trail

Purple wildflowers are abundant on Gunsight Pass Trail

If you are hiking Glacier National Park trails, the likelihood is that you will see wildflowers. Lots of wildflowers. But you will only frame a photo like this on Gunsight, one of the best Glacier National Park hiking trails,

You can see Gunsight Lake below, the mountains in the distance, and sunlight just barely kissing these purple wildflowers.

Glacier National Park hiking pictures

Gunsight Lake – So blue, so beautiful

Glacier National Park hikes sure are spectacular.

Gunsight Beautiful Mountain Lakes

This is why I love Glacier vacations

The bluest of blues – Gunsight Lake. Breathtaking photo that sends shivers down my spine even now.

Glacier National Park pictures - Gunsight Lake

Glacier National Park pictures – Gunsight Lake

This self-portrait of Allyson and I was done about halfway through the Gunsight Pass hike in Glacier. The minerals from glaciers and snow-melt make the water turn that beautiful, turquoise color.

Benefits of hiking poles - crossing snow

Allyson crosses snow with trekking poles

One of the many benefits of hiking poles is using them to cross snowy terrain.

Snow crossings are likely on many Glacier National Park hikes–on Gunsight Trail, they are almost a given. Hiking in August or late July decreases their danger; however hiking poles still make crossing much easier.

Gunsight - Glacier National Park Backpacking

Backpacking Gunsight Pass

This picture was taken by me on my first Glacier National Park backpacking trip. A fellow National Park employee and I hiked the pass way too early in the season. We were inexperienced and encountered very dangerous terrain.

At the top of Gunsight Pass, we were greeted with this:

Gunsight Avalanche

An avalanche at Gunsight Pass

An avalanche! You can see the snow racing down the mountainside on the left.

It was truly terrifying! All of a sudden we heard a rumbling that grew louder and louder, the ground started shaking, rocks quivering–we looked over and saw that.

We were young and naive and foolishly didn’t listen to the Ranger, who recommended we bring ice axes on our hike in Glacier. If you are hiking Glacier National Park trails during early season, you must always be equipped with an ice axe.

Don’t worry though–for the 99% of families vacationing to Glacier National Park, Montana, your trip will be without danger and without avalanches.

Gunsight Ellen Wilson Lake

A beautiful Glacier Natonal Park picture of Lake Ellen Wilson

On the opposite end of Gunsight Trail is Lake Ellen Wilson. I love the blues of this picture and hope this Glacier hiking photo sends as many chills down your spine as it does mine!

Mountain Goat Images

Pics of mountain goats

These two mountain goats were walking along the trail toward us. We had to navigate below to let them pass peacefully.

Although mountain goats aren’t typically aggressive, you never want to get in between a momma animal and it’s baby.

That is way too dangerous, especially with Glacier National Park wildlife.

Baby Mountain Goat Pics

The baby mountain goat stares us down

Please be friendly, baby mountain goat (and please don’t approach us and get your mom mad!)

Glacier National Park Camping

Glacier National Park camping
Lake Ellen Wilson campground

What good would hiking Glacier National Park be if you couldn’t camp out? For those doing Gunsight Trail in two days, Lake Ellen Wilson campground is a perfect place to pitch your backpacking tent for the night.

Don’t forget to get a permit though!

Mountain Goat Pics

A family of mountain goats

This next family of mountain goats was very aggressive. So aggressive that Allyson and I changed our route and even pulled out bear repellent because we thought the male mountain goat was going to charge us.

Scary to say the least.

Sadly, that does it for the photo guided tour of hiking Glacier National Park’s Gunsight Pass Trail. Our camera ran out of batteries shortly thereafter and we have nothing but internally stored memories of the hike’s remainder.

Hope you enjoyed virtually hiking Glacier National Park with me!

Return home from
Hiking Glacier National Park – Gunsight Pass to the Glacier Park, Montana Guide

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