Snyder Lake Hiking Guide


Snyder Lake

About Snyder Lake Trail

  • Length – 8.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain – 2,147 feet
  • Peak Elevation – 5,247 feet
  • Parking Lot — Yes
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Region – Lake McDonald
  • Availability of Water – Not until the lake

The Snyder Lake hike begins at the Sperry Chalet Trail located across the road from Lake McDonald Lodge on Going-to-the-Sun Road. There is a limited amount of parking at this spot, but you can take the shuttle to the lodge from one of the transit centers throughout the park.

Hiking the Snyder Lake Trail

The beginning of the trail is fairly level. A short distance into the hike, you’ll cross a horse path and the trail morphs into the Gunsight Pass Trail. At this point, you’ll start ascending steeply, gaining almost 1,000 feet in altitude as you hike through an old growth conifer forest, arriving at the Mt. Brown Trail junction at 1.6 miles. This is a well traveled trail, with foot and horse traffic, so don’t plan on having it all to yourself. The protocol within the park states that horses have the right of way, so step aside on the downhill side of the trail and let them pass.

A short trek later, at 1.7 miles, you’ll reach the less-travelled Snyder Lake Trail on your left, which parallels Snyder Creek. This section of the trail is particularly spectacular for its profusion of wildflowers in late spring and summer, so keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be hiking through dense forest, so be sure to make plenty of noise to warn grizzlies of your approach (learn how to hike through grizzly bear habitat) and of course, always carry bear spray.

The next section of the trail is strenuous as you gain another 1,000 feet along the next 2.5 miles, reaching an elevation of 5,250 feet before you begin the brief descent to Snyder Lake.

Once at the lake, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of Mt. Brown to the north, Little Matterhorn to the northeast and Edwards Mountain to the south. You’ll see waterfalls cascading down the rock walls to the lake. Snyder Lake doesn’t have the surreal turquoise color of some other glacial lakes in the park, nevertheless it’s a beautiful sight, bordered by tall conifers with the mountain peaks reaching up majestically around it.

There’s a small backcountry campground at the lake, with an outhouse. It’s a primo spot for lunch and a break before you start back. Better yet, bring a tent and sleeping bag and stay overnight in one of the most tranquil spots you’ll find anywhere.

My Experiences Hiking Snyder Lake Trail

I’ve never had the pleasure of hiking Snyder Lake. While I’ve hiked Mount Brown and Gunsight, I’ve never actually continued to Snyder Lake.

When I worked at Lake McDonald Lodge, many of my fellow co-workers backpacked in and camped at Snyder Lake. After all, it was a quick, easy hike and began right across the street from our lodge. But I never got around to it. I was always too busy exploring areas like Polebridge or the Many Glacier area.

Snyder Lake Trail Elevation Profile & Photos

Snyder Lake profile

Snyder Lake Elevation Profile

Additional Glacier National Park Hiking Info

Check out other Glacier National Park hiking trails, or head back to the hikes in the Lake McDonald Lodge area.

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Glacier National Park Travel Guide

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