Home > Lower Grinnell Lake

Lower Grinnell Lake Hike

July 22, 2011

Roundtrip distance: boat tour, followed by 4.5 miles of hiking

Note: Click on picture to see high resolution photograph in separate window:

Many Glacier Lodge

Today the six of us planned to take the boat and hike tour of the Grinnell Valley, so I got the boat tickets right away. Then we settled into the enormous lobby of the Many Glacier Hotel to eat our packed lunch. While we were sitting there, we watched through the huge windows as more storms swept through, dumping half an inch of snow and sleet, followed by a steady, cold rain. The mountains outside beyond the lakes were impressive to see, but the highest peaks remained shrouded in clouds. In the rare moments the clouds cleared enough to see the mountaintops, fresh snowfall shone brightly on the slopes. Uncle John and Aunt Debbie were enthralled to see all the snow falling on their anniversary--a first in their 39 years together.

Thankfully, there was no precipitation falling when we loaded onto the boat for the 2p.m. ride across Swiftcurrent Lake. The 0.2-mile walk from the Swiftcurrent dock to Lake Josephine, however, was a different story. A cold, hard rain was falling, and by the time we got onto the second boat on Lake Josephine, everyone was soaked. It was at this point Holly and Mom decided to opt out of the hiking portion of the tour. They stayed on the boat for the return trip, then settled into the Many Glacier lobby to sit around the huge fireplace and play board games.

The other four of us risked the weather to go ahead with the one-mile hike to Lower Grinnell Lake. Thankfully, no more rain or snow fell. We quickly passed the tour guide and group to explore the trail on our own. There was a fun swinging bridge to cross from which we could see a neat waterfall, shortly before reaching the Lower Grinnell Lake. The lake itself was gorgeous, and we had the place all to ourselves. The beautiful deep glacial green lake was surrounded by cliffs--including Angel Wing right next to us, Mount Gould rising higher into the low-hanging clouds, the lower cliffs of Mount Grinnell on the other side of the lake, and the waterfall-strewn cliffs separating the lower lake from Upper Grinnell Lake and Glacier. While we were standing there, I saw the dot of a bear stepping off the lower edge of a snow slope below Mount Grinnell. It disappeared quickly into the thick vegetation, and none of the others even glimpsed it.

Instead of taking the boat tour back to the lodge, we decided to take advantage of the clearing weather and hike the trail all the way back instead. Near Lake Josephine, we tried following the spur trail leading to the Grinnell Glacier, but were stopped quickly by signs indicating the trail was closed due to heavy grizzly activity.

All of us enjoyed the trail around Lake Josephine, along which there was an abundance of wildflowers.

Five minutes before getting back to the Many Glacier Lodge, we came upon a bull moose which was busily munching on the greenery 10 to 15 feet off the trail. I took a number of pictures of him, but the plants were so thick that I could never capture a completely clear view of the giant animal, even though he was so close.

Swiftcurrent Lake

For their anniversary dinner, Aunt Debbie and Uncle John decided they wanted to eat at the Ptarmigan dining room in the Many Glacier Hotel. Turned out to be a really good meal. I loved the elk and bison sausage appetizer, and the wild huckleberry wheat lager from Great Northern Brewing Co. I ate a large pasta meal for the entree, in preparation for tomorrow's big hike.