St Mary Falls Hike

Monday, Sept. 15th. Bob and I had a nice breakfast at St Mary Lodge and Resort before driving to the trailhead to hike to St Mary/Virginia Falls. The trailhead is located about 10 1/2 miles from the St Mary Entrance to the Park. We arrived about 9:30am and parking can be an issue now, and we were lucky to get the last parking spot for the trail. They are doing major work on the road on the east side of Logan Pass so there is a lot of construction and one-lane traffic. But when it is completed in 2016 it will be a first class road. We started down the trail and immediately had spectacular views of the surrounding snow capped mountains, the tallest Little Chief Mt at 9541 ft to the south. We passed through a canopy of dense forest and soon we could hear the thunder of water crashing over the rocks. Following this stream we came to St Mary Falls that drops 35 feet in three separate tiers. From the bridge over the St Mary River the two largest falls are easily photographed even in the shadows. The incredibly beautiful aqua-green color of the pools below the falls was spectacular and the water crystal clear.

We continued to follow the trail up Virginia Creek to some unnamed falls, a series of four falls cascading over the rocks. Here the pools were so clear that the color in the rocks. So much water flowing over the rocks was really beautiful, but the most impressive falls in Glacier NP that we have seen is Virginia Falls dropping roughly 50 feet, and standing at the base of the falls you can feel the spray and a blast of cool air. There were a couple of lookouts of the falls and each one was better for taking photos. We stayed for awhile just enjoying the beauty surrounding us. This trail is only 3.1 miles round trip so it is very popular and we met a lot of interesting people hiking to the falls. Just before reaching the parking lot we saw a moose way below us grazing in the water flowing into St Mary Lake.

We wanted to enjoy our last trip driving over the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the highlight of this Park, so we took our time. When we reached the west side it was lunch time, so we stopped at McDonald Lake Lodge for one final visit and view of the lake. What a fabulous calm day on the lake, and the water reflection was so beautiful. When we returned to the KOA we had our farewell bonfire sipping Scotch contemplating the wonders of Glacier NP the most beautiful park we have seen. The wildlife was abundant and we were fortunate to see mountain goats, big horn sheep, a hoary marmot, black bears, grizzly bears and one moose.