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St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Montana

Listing Type: Lake
City: St. Mary Montana
Region: Glacier Country

St. Mary Lake is on the east side of Glacier National Park along The Going-to-the-Sun Road. This lake is 10 miles long but not as wide as McDonald Lake. You'll want to stop at the turnouts at the end of the lake for a view of 100-foot Virginia Falls across the valley. From the Virginia Falls Turnout or Sun Point you can take some short hikes. One is a fork that leads to Sunrift Gorge where a steep, paved path leads to an overlook with windswept pines and views of Baring Creek cascading over slickrock. Another trail continues around to the end of St. Mary Lake and leads to St. Mary and Virginia Falls. There is an excellent view of St. Mary Lake as the trail rounds the lower end of the lake over a bluff. It then takes you to St. Mary Falls and then over a bridge at the base of Virginia Falls.

For excellent photo views of the lake, take the short spur road to Sun Point and the next turnout. Goose Island View this is one of the most photographed views in the park.The next turnout, The Narrows, is where the width of the lake is just a quarter mile across. Take the short path to the lake for some outstanding views.

The area north of the lake along the road is rich in wildlife. Here you may see mule deer, skunks, ground squirrels and badgers. It is also an excellent place to find elk. In autumn near dusk you may find bull elk engaged in battles. This is an important winter range for elk and you can easily cross country ski here in winter. In spring, it is the calving area for the St. Mary elk herd. This is also a good destination in spring and early summer for wildflowers including Indian paintbrush, blanketflowers, and lupine

.Near the road to the St. Mary campground, you have a good view looking southwest of the lake. Just before the town of St. Mary, a road leads down the east of the lake a short distance to the Eagle Lake Trailhead. This trail takes you through grasslands and aspen and cottonwood groves, and is another good location to photograph St. Mary Lake.

No license or permits are required to fish inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park. Fishermen need to stop at a Visitor Center or Ranger Station to obtain a current copy of park fishing regulations. St. Mary Lake is open to lake trout (mackinaw) fishing only from April 1 through December 31.

Glacier Park Boat Company provides boat tours June through September.

St. Mary Lake
National Park Service, West Glacier, MT 59936

  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Sightseeing
  • Nature Area
  • Environmental
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Picnicking
  • Bird Watching
  • Trail

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