Glacier Park Collection

Looking for an epic hike near St. Mary Village this summer? We asked our friend Trevor to tackle one of Glacier National Park's most adventurous full-day hikes. And boy, was he impressed!

Trevor Hull is living the dream. Originally from Arkansas, Trevor recently relocated to Montana to study photography and enjoy the great outdoors. He is spending his summer in Glacier National Park as the social media intern for Glacier Park Collection.

In June, Trevor brought his camera along on a hike to Otokomi Lake and was able to capture the unique beauty and compelling diversity of the Rising Sun territory. This trail is in the St. Mary area, making St. Mary Village the perfect base camp.

The trailhead sign for Otokomi Lake stands by a trail, heading into a forest

The trailhead to Otokomi Lake is located just left of the Rising Sun General Store. The hike begins by winding through a dense forest along the edge of the Rising Sun campground before transitioning into a fairly steep incline. It's a good idea to make some noise and have your bear spray handy on this section of the trail as bear activity is fairly common.

A hiking trail leads into a burned forest.

A dense forest of conifers and undergrowth with tall white flowers.

As you hike, you'll begin to notice evidence of the 2015 Reynolds Fire that burned more than 4,400 acres of forest. The area is quickly rebounding and new growth can be seen in every direction. An abundance of wildflowers and bear grass line the trail as you continue to climb higher along the southern slope of Otokomi Mountain. Intermittent vantage points provide excellent views of the surrounding mountains and the Rose Creek valley below.

A waterfall rushes between forests and rocky terrain.

Eventually, you'll reach a series of cascading waterfalls that flow into Rose Creek. Although there is no direct access to the falls, the trail provides an excellent opportunity to take in the view. There will be several more waterfall viewing opportunities as you continue along the trail.

A trail traverses a scree slope, and looking towards a snow-covered mountainside.

About a mile before you reach Otokomi Lake, the trail opens up to wide views of the surrounding mountains and a preview of your final destination to the west. This high-altitude section of the trail is characterized by rocky features and small alpine plants. Depending on the time of year, there could be leftover snow on this section of the trail so be prepared for all conditions.

A calm mountain lake with a wooded shoreline

A view across a lake towards towering craggy mountains.

Finally, the trail falls in line with a small creek that will lead you to the beautiful shores of Otokomi Lake. Keep in mind that this is ideal moose territory so be aware of your surroundings and make plenty of noise to avoid startling one. On a clear day, the signature red cliffs that rise high above the lake are reflected by crystal clear water. There are plenty of places along the shore to stop and take in the view while enjoying a packed lunch.

A view overtop of a forest towards tall mountains.

Impressive views of Red Eagle Mountain and Rose Creek Canyon are not to be missed on the way back down. If you time your hike right, you can still catch the sunset from Going-to-the-Sun Road before returning to St. Mary for a well-deserved dinner and relaxing evening.

"Otokomi Lake is an incredible hike that I would do again in a heartbeat," Trevor says. "It really exhibits all of the things I love about Glacier."

About the Hike

Time: 6-8 hours
Distance: 10.8 miles (17.4 km) round-trip
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: +2,180 feet (664 m)
Access: The hike to Otokomi Lake begins from the Rose Creek Trailhead at Rising Sun, located 5.5 miles west of the Saint Mary Entrance Station on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. The trailhead is located on the west side of the General Store.

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