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Glacier National Park
St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls
2.4 miles round trip.

St. Mary's Falls Photo

The Trailhead is located at a pullout, 10.5 miles west of St. Mary on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

We have heard this is a superb area for photography so bring our camera gear with us. As we begin the walk we come to a small meadow filled with wildflowers. To the north, Going-to-the-Sun Mountain towers overhead and we capture our first photos of the day. The trail is good as we travel through a wooded area and several hikers are on the trail this morning. Some stop to chat, while others are on a serious mission to conquer some distant trail.

Crossing a footbridge over St. Mary River, St. Mary Falls is just upriver. The sound of the falls can be heard for quite a distance. This is a very scenic area with the double falls and the river winding toward us through the grasses, wildflowers and green shrubs. Dippers are searching for food near the falls and flying to their nest by the river to feed the baby birds there. We are fascinated by their activities and take time to watch their routine. The sun is shining just right and a rainbow appears in the mist from the falls. This is a good time of day for some more photos.

Virginia Falls Photo


Moving up the trail along Virginia creek there is another falls, unnamed and sometimes referred to as Lower Virginia Falls. We continue on along Virginia Creek and hear Virginia Falls long before we come to the footbridge crossing the creek below the falls. The waterfall is fifty feet high and falls straight down creating a very loud roar. After some photos are taken we begin our return trip, stopping at St. Mary Falls to enjoy the view and have a snack. We take our time and arrive back at the trailhead four hours after beginning our adventure.


St Mary Falls and Virginia Falls 2.4 miles round trip,
written by Jan Rapelje.  

Distance from St Mary Parking Area






St Mary Falls
1.1 miles
Baring Falls
1.0 miles
Virginia Falls
1.8 miles
Sun Point
1.6 miles
Sunrift Gorge
1.2 miles
Gunsight Lake
6.9 miles

Glacier National Park is located in the northwest corner of Montana, just north of Columbia Falls. The park encompasses more than one million acres and is home to grizzly bear, moose, elk, along with 63 varieties of wild mammals. While most of the roads in Glacier National Park are closed off during the winter, this provides miles and miles of tracks for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Visitors are seldom around in the dead of winter, so the muffled hush of the snow covered woods is especially enticing and serene.

A ski or snowshoe trip along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is one of the most scenic roads in North America, is a great option, according to park rangers. The road is closed to cars from September or October until snowmelt, usually in June. Several short hiking trails branch off from the road, which would be excellent for snowshoeing or skiing in the winter season.

 Once you have your gear, head up to Glacier National Park for an exciting adventure. Guided snowshoe trips are available, led by a park naturalist, and are highly recommended. If you are looking for an informative tour, snowshoeing is an easy way to explore the winter wonderland of this unique park. Snowshoeing will provide even the novice an effortless activity so your senses are more in tune with your environment and your guide's knowledge on the history, wildlife, geology, and biology of this precious ecosystem.

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