Explore Ptarmigan Falls: Trail and Safety Guide

Visiting Ptarmigan Falls in Glacier National Park is a journey into Montana’s stunning natural beauty. Standing at 200 feet tall, this waterfall is truly impressive and highlights the wonder of nature. This is a must-visit destination if you’re looking to experience the best of the state’s wilderness.

I’ll guide you to the falls, discussing trail features and safety tips to ensure a pleasant and safe hike. The Ptarmigan Trail promises spectacular views and delightful surprises.

Ptarmigan Falls is a must-see for nature lovers and hikers looking for a great escape. It offers beautiful views and more. Ready to learn more about it? Let’s dive in.

5 Key Takeaways on Ptarmigan Falls

  1. Ptarmigan Falls in Glacier National Park is a 200-foot masterpiece of nature. It is named after Ptarmigan Creek and surrounded by the park’s untouched wilderness.
  2. Hike the Ptarmigan Trail from the Many Glacier region to reach the falls. This offers an immersive journey through the park’s backcountry.
  3. The Ptarmigan Trail presents stunning panoramic views, including Mt. Grinnell and the Ptarmigan Wall. The latter is situated alongside a diverse landscape of open spaces and pine forests.
  4. Safety is very important on the trail because of grizzly bears. You should carry bear spray, make noise, and listen to the rangers’ advice.
  5. Fed by snowmelt from the Ptarmigan Tunnel, Ptarmigan Falls shows the pure beauty of Montana and the importance of exploring nature.

About Ptarmigan Falls

Ptarmigan waterfall cascades over rocks, framed by evergreen branches in bright sunlight in Montana.
source: flickr.com

Location CoordinatesHeightElevationNearby Popular DestinationsLocation
48.8214386° N -113.7115905° W200 feet (61 meters)5,670 feet (1,728 meters)Ptarmigan Tunnel, Iceberg Lake, and Glacier National ParkMany Glacier Region, Glacier National Park, Glacier County, Montana

Ptarmigan Falls is a beautiful waterfall in Glacier National Park, Montana. It is 200 feet (61 meters) tall and has at least one drop over 30 feet (9.1 meters), making it a sight worth exploring.

The name “Ptarmigan” comes from the creek it belongs to, named after a type of bird called Ptarmigans. These birds are recognized for their feathered legs and feathers that change color. These feathers change from dark to white during winter.

Put on your hiking boots and follow the trail to see Ptarmigan Falls. The only way to get there is to walk west on the Ptarmigan Trail from the Swiftcurrent Auto Camp Historic District in the Many Glacier area.

As you get closer to Ptarmigan Falls, the sound of water gets louder, and the scenery changes into beautiful waterfalls. It’s where you can feel nature’s strength and calmness, perfect for enjoying the outdoors.

About the Ptarmigan Trail

A scenic mountain landscape in Montana near Ptarmigan Waterfall with snow patches, a small blue lake, distant peaks, and rolling clouds under a vast sky.
source: flickr.com

Trail TypeRoundtrip LengthTotal Elevation GainAvg. Elev GainHighest ElevationTrail Difficulty Rating
Out-and-Back Trail5.0 Miles768 Feet307 Feet5733 FeetModerate

Starting the hike to Ptarmigan Falls is an exciting adventure. You’ll find the trail behind the cabins near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Glacier National Park. It’s the start of a trip that offers amazing views and a bit of a challenge.

There’s a parking lot next to the Ptarmigan trailhead that can hold about 12-15 cars. If it’s full, you can park in front of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and walk to the trailhead a short distance, about two-tenths of a mile.

Here’s a quick guide to get you on your way to Ptarmigan Falls from the trail:

  1. The first part of the trail is a steep climb of about 185 feet over a quarter of a mile. 
  2. As you trek, watch for the junction after the Iceberg Lake Trailhead. Take a right here to hop onto the short connector trail that leads to the Ptarmigan Trail.
  3. At the Ptarmigan Trail junction, make sure to turn left. A right turn will lead you back towards the Many Glacier Hotel, which might not be where you’re headed.

During the hike, you’ll see truly amazing views. Picture seeing Mt. Grinnell, Swiftcurrent Mountain, Mt. Wilbur, and the Ptarmigan Wall all at once in a big, beautiful view.

This area is home to grizzly bears, so making noise, carrying bear spray, and hiking with friends are crucial. Park rangers keep a close eye on the area. Occasionally, they may close trails if bears are nearby for the safety of the hikers.

The trail isn’t just about the views. It’s a mix of open spaces with stunning mountain views and a cozy pine forest that you’ll hit around 1.5 miles in.

When you reach a small open area at 2.5 miles near Ptarmigan Falls, you’ll likely want to find a good place to rest. The falls are a bit hidden behind trees and steep ground, but they’re still a beautiful sight to see.

Above the falls, there’s a rocky area where hikers like to take a break. From here, you can keep going to Iceberg Lake or Ptarmigan Tunnel. It’s a popular spot for a reason. The trail is a mountain hiker’s dream with its steep climbs and outstanding views. 

Ptarmigan Waterfall Final Thoughts

Ptarmigan waterfall cascades over reddish-brown rocks surrounded by green pine trees under an overcast sky.

Ptarmigan Falls offers both adventure and beautiful sights. This waterfall comes from the melting snow of the Ptarmigan Tunnel area and gives us more than just a great view. 

The hike to Ptarmigan Falls is more than a walk — it’s a steep climb that leads to a beautiful view at the top. The sound of rushing water and the sight of water falling over rocks make a pretty picture. It’s a place where hikers stop to rest and enjoy the amazing view.

Ptarmigan Falls shows off Montana’s stunning wilderness. It’s a place that makes us work hard on the hike and helps us relax and enjoy nature. With its clear, cold water, this waterfall is a refreshing spot for visitors, giving a peaceful break in the middle of the mountains.

Ptarmigan Waterfall FAQs

1. How Do I Access Ptarmigan Falls?

To reach Ptarmigan Falls, begin your hike on the Ptarmigan Trail, which originates near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park.

Locate the trailhead behind the cabins where ample parking is available. From there, head west on the trail. Continue past the Iceberg Lake Trailhead, then follow the connecting trail to reach the falls.

2. How Long Is the Hike to Ptarmigan Falls?

The Ptarmigan Trail is an out-and-back route spanning approximately 5.0 miles. Typically, hiking to Ptarmigan Falls takes about 2-3 hours, depending on your walking pace and the current trail conditions.

3. Are There Any Safety Precautions I Should Take While Hiking to Ptarmigan Falls?

Yes, it’s important to be ready when hiking in bear country. Always make noise to avoid surprising bears, carry bear spray, and try to hike with others. Stick to marked trails because leaving them can be risky and hurt the environment.

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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