Explore Salamander Falls: Hiking and Activities Guide

Salamander Falls in Montana is a natural wonder that originates from Salamander Glacier in Glacier National Park. The falls drop 440 feet and play a role in the park’s history.

We’ll show you the trails near Salamander Falls, with options for everyone. From the difficult Grinnell Glacier Trail to the easy Swiftcurrent Nature Trail, there’s a hike suitable for you. We’ll also take you to see the bright Cracker Lake and calm Redrock Falls.

Salamander Falls is special, from the big glaciers surrounding the area to its opportunities for camping. Ready yourself for scenic hikes, peaceful boating, and more as we explore these breathtaking falls.

7 Key Takeaways on Salamander Falls

  1. The hike to Salamander Falls starts from Salamander Glacier in Glacier National Park. The area offers a challenging yet rewarding trek to the falls despite the glacier’s rapid melting.
  2. Hiking trails near Salamander Falls suit all hikers, with varying levels of difficulty and great views.
  3. Grinnell Glacier Trail starts at Many Glacier, passes Salamander Falls, and leads to Grinnell Lake and Upper Grinnell Lake.
  4. Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is an easy, family-friendly hike around Swiftcurrent Lake.
  5. Cracker Lake Trail is a must for hikers, featuring bright blue water and beautiful mountains.
  6. Redrock Falls trail is nice and easy, leading to a waterfall that flows into Redrock Lake.
  7. Nearby activities, like hiking, picnicking, eating, and fishing, offer various options for things to do during your visit.

Where Is Salamander Falls?

Location CoordinatesHeightApproximate ElevationAttractions in the AreaLocation
48.75556° N, -113.735833° W440 feet (134 meters)6,991 feet (2,131 m)Grinnell Lake, Swiftcurrent Lake, Grinnell Falls, Hidden Lake, Lake JosephineGlacier National Park, Glacier County, Montana

Salamander Falls is a special waterfall in Montana. Its source is the Salamander Glacier in Glacier National Park, located above Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake.

The falls are known for melting quickly and making two streams. The USGS calls the right stream Salamander Falls. But both streams could be seen as one big waterfall because they come from the same place.

Salamander Glacier used to be part of Grinnell Glacier but split off to become a separate glacier around 1929. This split happened because Grinnell Glacier was shrinking rapidly. Salamander Glacier is getting smaller like many glaciers in Glacier National Park.

Hikes to Salamander Falls may begin at the well-liked Grinnell Lake and Glacier trail. This trail is loved by experienced hikers because it has beautiful views and lets you see how climate change is affecting glaciers.

The hike to Salamander Falls is a whole-day journey. It’s tough but worth it for the beautiful scenery and the big 440-foot drop of the falls.

Where to Go Hiking Near Salamander Falls

Hiking around Salamander Falls is a worthwhile adventure because of Montana’s beautiful scenery. The trails leading to it suit all levels of hikers, offering stunning views and a chance to be close to nature.

1. Grinnell Glacier Trail – Trail With a Parking Lot

The Grinnell Glacier Trail winds through lush greenery and dense trees, leading to a serene lake surrounded by towering rocky mountains under a clear blue sky.

Starting PointLengthElevation GainDifficulty
Grinnell Trailhead in Many Glacier Campground Area11.2 miles2,181 feetModerate

You can start at the Grinnell Trailhead in the Many Glacier Campground area to reach Salamander Falls. This is where the Grinnell Glacier Trail begins.

It’s still a good idea to beat the rush and start your hike early even with ample parking space available. The trail is very popular and spans 11.2 miles with an elevation gain of 2,181 feet.

Grinnell Trailhead has both beautiful scenery and some challenges. It keeps going up, but it’s not too hard, so you can focus on enjoying the epic hike. You’ll see stunning views of Grinnell Lake, Upper Grinnell Lake, Grinnell Glacier, and Grinnell Falls along the way.

2. Swiftcurrent Nature Trail – Hiking With Family

The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail winds through evergreen forests, offering glimpses of distant snow-capped peaks.

LocationStarting PointLengthElevation GainDifficulty
Many Glacier Area, Glacier National ParkGrinnell Trailhead2.6 miles127 feetEasy

The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is sought after by hikers who love hiking in Glacier National Park. It’s known for its pretty loop around Swiftcurrent Lake, with beautiful views of the Many Glacier Area.

Starting from the Grinnell Trailhead, the path goes along Many Glacier Road, crosses Swift Current Creek, and continues along the lake shore near Many Glacier Lodge.

Taking the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail to Salamander Falls is easy, making it great for families with your kids. The loop is 2.6 miles long and only goes up 127 feet, not nearly as challenging as the other trails.

3. Cracker Lake Trail – Hiking With Panoramic Views

Cracker Lake Trail that features a tranquil lake with turquoise waters nestled between grassy fields and rugged, snow-dotted cliffs

LengthRouteElevation GainTrail TypeDifficulty
12 milesBetween Allen Mountain and Wynn MountainAbout 1,650 feetOut-and-backChallenging

Cracker Lake Trail offers a fun hike with stunning views. It’s popular among backpackers because it’s challenging yet manageable, especially for beginners.

Cracker Lake Trail is 12 miles long and goes between Allen Mountain and Wynn Mountain. You’ll climb about 1,650 feet. It’s an out-and-back trail, so you see things differently on your way back.

The views along the trail are amazing. The lake is at the bottom of a valley, with big mountains behind it. There are three camping spots by the lake, so it’s a great place to relax in nature.

Cracker Lake is special because of its color. The water appears bright blue due to minerals from melting glaciers, creating a stunning contrast against the rocks and the sky.

4. Redrock Falls/Swiftcurrent Pass – Easy Hike for Beginners

Redrock Falls cascade through large red rocks in a forested mountainous area of Montana, surrounded by green pine trees and moss-covered rocks.

LocationLengthTerrainElevation Gain
Swiftcurrent Pass trailhead in Many Glacier Campground area3.6 miles round tripMostly flat trail236 feet

Redrock Trail is perfect if you want to see Salamander Falls without experiencing a difficult hike. It’s great for hikers who want a more easygoing adventure.

Start your hike at Swiftcurrent Pass trailhead in Many Glacier Campground. This 3.6-mile round trip is great for beginners and has beautiful views. The trail is mostly flat, with only a 236-foot climb. It leads you straight to the pretty Redrock Falls.

Redrock Falls is another waterfall near the area with red rocks that flow into Redrock Lake. It’s not just pretty to look at, but it’s also a nice place to sit and enjoy the scenery.

5. Grinnell Overlook Trail – Trail for Adventurous Hikers

Grinnell Overlook Trail with rocky ridges and snow patches leads to a distant valley.

LocationLengthViewsTrail TypeDifficulty
Going-to-the-Sun Road11.4 milesAmazing views of the Grinnell ValleyOut-and-backQuite challenging

The Grinnell Overlook Trail is a journey along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s an 11.4-mile round trip that takes you to the top of the Garden Wall. You can see amazing views of the Grinnell Valley from there.

This hike is considered quite challenging, mainly because of its length and the steep climb you’ll face about halfway through the journey.

The views along Grinnell Overlook Trail are different going up and coming down. The journey up to Grinnell Overlook is amazing but coming back down is not as satisfying. 

This trail is challenging but rewarding, giving you a sense of achievement when you’re done.

Things to Do Near Salamander Falls

There are activities for everyone near Salamander Falls. If you like adventure, nature, or just good food with a nice view, you’ll find something here. Let’s see what’s nearby.

1. Hiking at the Many Glacier Area

A person wearing a teal jacket and carrying a gray backpack is hiking on a trail surrounded by dense greenery in a forested area with mountains in the background.

Hiking reigns as the top activity in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park, drawing in adventure lovers from all corners. The region boasts a network of trails that wind their way to breathtaking overlooks and the park’s famous glaciers. 

Many trails here are tough and long, going high up to see the park’s big glaciers. It’s a big adventure, perfect for people who like challenges and amazing views.

You might see big animals like bears in the Many Glacier area. Trails may close because of bear activity to keep both people and bears safe. It’s not to scare you, it’s more a reminder to be careful around bears.

Those planning a visit here should brush up on their bear safety knowledge. It’s a crucial part of preparing for what promises to be a perfect hike.

2. Camping at the Many Glacier Campground

A beige tent is set up in a forested area of Montana. Next to it, there's a camping stool and a few camping supplies, including a box and some cooking utensils.

Camping by Salamander Falls is a nature adventure, but you need to prepare. Many Glacier Campground near the Grinnell Trailhead is a great campground for exploring Glacier National Park.

Here’s why you should visit Many Glacier Campground:

  • This campground welcomes both tent and RV campers which is managed by the National Park Service.
  • Situated at the end of Many Glacier Road, the campground offers picturesque views past Swiftcurrent Lake.
  • The campground is open in the summer only and needs reservations, but it assures you’ll have a spot for your tent or RV.

There are backcountry campsites with no reservations needed for campers who love the wilderness.

Safety is key in bear areas. Follow food storage and hiking rules for your safety and the wildlife’s.

3. Canoeing/Kayaking in the Many Glacier Area

At sunset on a calm Montana lake, a person in a plaid shirt and beige backpack paddles a canoe.

The Many Glacier area is great for people who love boating without motors. There are big lakes like Swiftcurrent Lake, Josephine Lake, and Lake Sherburn. You can use a small, non-motor boat to explore the clear water and enjoy the beautiful mountains.

Remember to bring your own boat if you’re planning to paddle out onto these pristine waters. Rental services are not available in Many Glacier, so it’s a good idea to come prepared. The tranquil beauty of these lakes is not to be missed whether you’re canoeing or kayaking.

When boating in the area near Salamander Falls, keep these in mind:

  • Use only non-motorized boats.
  • Swiftcurrent Lake, Josephine Lake, and Lake Sherburn are open to small boats.
  • Bring your own canoe or kayak as rentals are not available in the area.

Salamander Falls Final Thoughts

A serene turquoise glacial lake with Salamander Falls in the background, surrounded by steep rocky cliffs with patches of snow.
source: flickr.com

The beauty and calmness of Salamander Falls have inspired stories and adventures for many. It’s a place where you can truly feel Montana’s wildness.

The journey to the falls is an adventure, offering various hiking options suitable for hikers of all skill levels. From the family-friendly Grinnell Glacier Trail to the challenging Grinnell Overlook Trail, there’s something for everyone.

The Many Glacier area near the falls also provides opportunities for camping, kayaking, and canoeing apart from hiking. Salamander Falls is perfect for nature lovers, photographers, or those seeking tranquility.

Take a moment to enjoy the falls and nature around you before you leave. And remember this special place and leave only footprints when you go.

Salamander Falls FAQs

1. How Do I Get to Salamander Falls?

Salamander Falls is located in Glacier National Park, Montana, accessible via the Grinnell Glacier Trail. The trailhead starts at the Many Glacier Campground area, where you can find ample parking. It’s an 11.2-mile round trip with significant elevation gain, so prepare for a full-day hike.

2. What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Salamander Falls?

The best time to visit Salamander Falls is during the summer months from late June to early September. During this time, the trails are usually free of snow, and the weather is most favorable for hiking. Always check local trail conditions and weather forecasts before planning your hike.

3. Do I Need Any Permits to Hike to Salamander Falls?

No permits are required for day hikes to Salamander Falls. However, if you plan to camp overnight in the backcountry, a backcountry permit is required and can be obtained from any ranger station in Glacier National Park.

Did this article make you fall in love with Montana’s natural beauty? Learn more about the state’s other hidden treasures with these related articles:

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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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