St Mary Falls

Glacier National Park / St Mary Lake / Glacier County, Montana, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2
St Mary Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

St Mary Falls (or Saint Mary Falls if I spell it all out) was an interesting two-tiered waterfall where we just so happened to see some colorful foliage growing nearby it. The foliage added color to our waterfall photographs as you can see from the photo on the top of this page, for example. The water on the falls also exhibited some of that powder blue that seemed to be so typical of glacial streams so I'm sure that the color in the water would have been amplified (contrasting nicely with the red rocks around the falls itself) under better weather than what we experienced during our trip in 2010.

It took Julie and I a little over an hour to do this 2-mile round trip hike, but we were intending to make it a 3.6-mile round trip hike out to Virginia Falls going past this falls. The problem was that the trail was closed before reaching Virginia Falls due to grizzly bear activity. I guess we'll have to come back for that one the next time we visit this park.

Speaking of which, during the real scenic part of the hike when majestic mountains towered in the distance over the trees that we were descending towards, we noticed a tall cascade in the distance. We couldn't tell if that was Virginia Falls or some other waterfall, but we thought it was in the general direction of where Virginia Falls would be.

At the one-mile point of the well-signed hike, we reached a footbridge where we got direct views of the Saint Mary Falls. As we looked away from the falls and further downstream, the panorama was nice as it featured tall and pointy mountains rising high above the forest we were in. However, I'm sure the views would've been even better if the weather was better.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Looking downstream from St Mary Falls towards mysterious mountains revealing themselves just as the rain clouds started to liftLooking downstream from St Mary Falls towards mysterious mountains revealing themselves just as the rain clouds started to lift
We lodged somewhere near the turnoff for the St Mary Lake Visitor Center.  The advantage of this was not only location, but we also got lucky with glorious sunsets like this oneWe lodged somewhere near the turnoff for the St Mary Lake Visitor Center. The advantage of this was not only location, but we also got lucky with glorious sunsets like this one
Falls was merely one of several stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This view of Wild Goose Island was another well-known photographic stopFalls was merely one of several stops along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This view of Wild Goose Island was another well-known photographic stop
Very scenic descent as we entered the forest from the trailheadVery scenic descent as we entered the forest from the trailhead

Trail junction as we made it to the bottom of the initial descentTrail junction as we made it to the bottom of the initial descent

Trail closure before the Virginia Falls area due to grizzly bear activityTrail closure before the Virginia Falls area due to grizzly bear activity

Julie on the forested path towards St Mary FallsJulie on the forested path towards the falls

Looking ahead towards the footbridge before the fallsLooking ahead towards the footbridge before the falls

Looking up at some cascades beneath St Mary FallsLooking up at some cascades beneath the main falls

Direct view of St Mary FallsDirect view of the falls

Final climb back up to the car park as the weather improvedFinal climb back up to the car park as the weather improved

This was the waterfall we saw in the distance that we thought might be Virginia FallsThis was the waterfall we saw in the distance that we thought might be Virginia Falls

More contextual view of that waterfall we thought was Virginia FallsMore contextual view of that waterfall we thought was Virginia Falls


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Fixated on the two-tiered falls


Left to right sweep starting from the falls and ending at the mountains further downstream away from the falls


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From the St Mary Visitor Center, drive about 11 miles west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road looking for the pullout for St Mary Falls on the left side of the road (just under a mile beyond the bridge by Sunrift Gorge).

To give you some context, St Mary was under 9 miles south of Babb and 203 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Helena. Across the US-Canada border, St Mary was 47 miles (an hour drive) southeast of Waterton and 180 miles (3 hours drive) south of Calgary.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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