The St. Mary Valley

Virginia Falls: The Best Waterfall In Glacier National Park

If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring experience, look no further than Virginia Falls Glacier National Park. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Be sure to pack your camera – you’ll want to capture every moment of this amazing place!

Why Should You Hike St. Mary Falls Trail To See Virginia Falls?

Being one of the most popular day hikes and the most popular waterfall in Glacier National Park, Virginia Falls is an amazing sight. This three-for-one trail also includes St. Mary Falls, and cascading waterfalls on Virginia Creek, making for an even better experience. However, what’s waiting for you at the end of the trail is truly the cherry on top.

Virginia Falls From Down Creek
Virginia Falls is the highlight of the entire hike.

Virginia Falls’ tallest drop is a total of 50 feet, cascading its way down the jagged cliffside. Mist fills the crisp mountain air as the water crashing down creates a wind that can only be felt near the falls. After hiking up, relax next to the shore and take in the payoff of the hike.

Hours can be spent in awe of the spectacle that is Virginia Falls. The only thing stopping people is the will to see as much of the park as possible! However, this waterfall is a must-see for anyone in the park.

What Is The Hike Out To Virginia Falls Hike Like?

Starting off the hike to the falls, about 0.3 miles in, experience the reminiscences of the 2015 Reynolds Creek Fire. Chard trees litter the landscape with the new growth inching its way up to the sky. The view is truly surreal.

Sunrift Gorge
Sunrift Gorge was scorched during the 2015 wildfire/

About mid-way through the hike, the trail meets up with the St. Mary river. You getting close to the first waterfall! Once the bridge over the river appears in view, you are only steps away from seeing the amazing St. Mary Falls.

St. Mary Falls From Bridge
St. Mary Falls is the first waterfall you will see on your journey.

St. Mary Falls is a spectacular sight. The roaring sound of three tiers of waterfalls draining into an ice-blue pool is awe-inspiring. In all honesty, a whole day can be spent here at St. Mary Falls. But knowing an even better view awaits you up ahead… the trek must go on!

St. Mary Falls, Saint Mary Falls
The cascading St. Mary Falls makes for a beautiful sight.

Continuing on the journey, a short distance ahead lies Virginia Creek. Words can’t describe how amazing this section of the hike is. Some would even say it is better than the previous St. Mary Falls.

Virginia Creek
Virginia Creek is a spectacle in itself.

The Virginia Creek offers multiple smaller cascades on its way down the mountainside creating a series of waterfalls and rapids. Looking up, the absolutely gorgeous, towering peaks of Glacier are visible in the background. What more could you want? Definitely stop and take in the beautiful scenery along this incredibly scenic spot.

Virginia Falls From Side
Virginia Falls drops over 50 feet! The mist and wind can be felt just looking at the picture.

Last but not least is Virginia Falls. The pinnacle of the St. Mary Falls Trail. Staring up at this wonder will make you think about your adventure thus far and how it was all worth it. A light mist on your face coupled with the wind and the deafening thunder is the experience of a lifetime.

All in all, a hike to witness St. Mary and Virginia Falls is more than worth the effort it takes to make it up the trail. The view will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime and pictures work more than a thousand words.

Trail Difficulty

Being rated at 4.65, the St. Mary Falls And Virginia Falls hike is easy. Being an easy difficulty, the hike is a great starter trail for beginners. There is very little elevation gain, so the walk to the falls and back is smooth and easy. This makes for a great family outing or a morning or afternoon stroll with friends.

Saint Mary
The St. Mary River has so many sights to see on the way.

Hike Length

The St. Mary Falls Trail hike to Virginia Falls is a very easy 3.6-mile round trip that takes hikers through a beautiful forest. Don’t let a distance like this detour you though. These falls are an amazing sight that you will be proud to have experienced. With the hike not being difficult, anyone in good physical condition can complete it.

Hike Elevation Gain

With an elevation gain of only 525 feet, St. Mary Falls to Virginia Falls hike is relatively flat and nothing but easy grades, making for a great journey.

Is The Hike To Virginia Falls Kid Friendly?

Glacier National Park has a lot of trails that are not suitable for children. However, the St. Mary and Virginia Falls hike is the perfect trail for kids. The best part of the hike is that there is so much to marvel at that the kiddos will be wanting to keep trudging on just to see more.

Even with a few small grumbles here and there about how they wished they had brought hiking binoculars or their trekking poles, they will quickly forget as they are distracted by the next thing.

And what a joy it is to see their amazement when they finally reach the top of that hill and see the most gorgeous view of the waterfall towering above – all while being able to brag that you made it without too many stops.

Saint Mary
Even the river can be lazy at times too.

Sure, there might have been a point where you may have had to pick up a kiddo who didn’t want to walk anymore, but it’s totally worth it when you get those victorious looks and high-fives at the end.

What Wildlife Is There to See While Hiking To Stunning Virginia Falls?

Being in the lowlands of Glacier National Park, tons of little critters such as squirrels and chipmunks are bound to be spotted.

We all know what everyone wants to see though. The big animals. Lucky for you, moose, grizzly bears, elk, and sometimes even a mountain goat can be seen while hiking this trail.

Be sure to have your bear spray just in case anything goes awry.

Bull Moose Swimming
A Bull Moose swimming across water. Don’t get in the way!

Where Is Virginia Falls at in Glacier National Park?

Located on Going to the Sun Road, the Saint Mary Falls Trailhead (otherwise known as St. Mary and Virginia Falls Trail) is very easy to get to.

Starting in St. Mary, the drive to the trailhead is a mere 20 minutes or 11 miles west. However, the drive will feel far less than that given the amount of scenery that is flooding into your vision.

There is a parking lot at the trailhead making trail access that much easier.

St. Mary Lake (Best View Driving To The Trailhead)

The best spectacle by far to be seen on your drive-in is St. Mary Lake. It is the second largest lake in Glacier National Park behind only Lake McDonald. St. Mary Lake is also the first lake you see when entering from the east side of the park.

Its pristine waters and picturesque setting make it a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike. Be sure to snap a few photos of this scenic view to add to your gallery!

Going To The Sun Road By St Mary And Virginia Falls
View near the trailhead. You know you want to see it too…

Other Stops Along The Way

If you’re feeling really adventurous, make some stops along the way. There are a few spots worth checking out before getting your hikes started. It is recommended to get started early in the morning to be able to spend ample time at all these beautiful places.

Sunrift Gorge

If you’re looking for another breathtaking waterfall experience along Going to the Sun Road, Sunrift gorge is the place to be.

Bearing Falls
Bearing Falls is an amazing waterfall to see.

Baring Falls, located within the gorge, is another one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area. This powerful waterfall is an incredible place to take photos and relax for a bit.

Sunrift gorge is also home to a variety of other scenic attractions, making it the perfect spot for a day trip or weekend getaway.

Sun Point Picnic Area

St. Mary Lake From Sun Point
Beautiful St Mary Lake from Sun Point

Sun Point is another place that should be stopped at along Going to the Sun Road.
It is one of the best picnic areas in Glacier for several reasons.

First, it offer breathtaking views of St. Mary Lake and the surrounding mountains. Sunlight filters through the trees and sparkles on the water, making it a truly magical place.

Second, Sun Point is a great place to take a hike. There are several trails that wind through the woods, providing opportunities to see wildlife and experience the beauty of nature.

Third, Sun Point is a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. The picnic area is spacious and well-shaded, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a meal with family or friends.

Fourth, Sun Point is an excellent place to take photographs. The views are simply incredible, and you’re sure to capture some amazing memories.

So if you’re looking for a great picnic spot in Glacier National Park, be sure to add Sun Point to your list!

St. Mary Falls Shuttling Service Has You Covered For Your Traveling Needs

If leisurely is more your pace, a ride on the St. Mary Falls Shuttle might be best for you. Forget trying to get navigate in a place unknown to you and spend an extra 15 mins driving up and down the parking lot looking for a spot.

St Mary Shuttle Stop At Logan Pass Parking Lot
The shuttle service is a great way to get around Glacier National Park.

The shuttle buses will eliminate all of that. Not to mention, the shuttle makes multiple stops including Sunrift Gorge, Jackson Glacier Overlook, and Logan Pass. If this sounds like a plan for you, go to the St. Mary Visitor Center for all your shuttling needs.

St Mary Visitor Center Parking Area
St. Mary Visitor Center Overlooks a beautiful landscape.

Map To St. Mary Falls

What Should I Bring On My Hike To Virginia Falls?

The below-mentioned items and others on this page are Amazon Affiliate links on which I will make money. Feel free to explore other items and find the products that work best for you! Here at YourNPGuide, we strive to give you the best in everything. If you decide to purchase through our links, thank you! Every little bit helps out more than you know!

Being a shorter hike, there isn’t much that needs to be brought with you. However, there are a few items that should be brought.

  1. Water Buffalo Hydration Backpack

Keeping hydrated is an essential part of any hike. No one wants to lug clunky water bottles around. With amazing ratings from over 10,000 people, Water Buffalo Hydration Backpack takes care of that. A 2L water capacity will keep you going long after your hike as ended.

  1. TrailBuddy Treckking Poles

Using just your legs to hike is for amateurs. Take some of the weight off by using TrailBuddy Trekking Poles. With over 44,000 reviews, many people can’t be wrong. Trekking Poles changed the way I hike and can change the way you do too.

  1. Occer Compact Binoculars

You see that mountain goat over there?? Nope, because you don’t have the binoculars to be able to see the amazing wildlife in Glacier National Park from afar. Don’t miss out on opportunities like this. Do yourself a favor and bring a set of binoculars.

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