“Let’s hike to Baring Falls, using the shortest of the 3 most popular trail options.” Even though my legs were still a little bit wobbly after hiking to Avalanche Lake and the Hidden Lake Overlook earlier that day, I was down for a new waterfall adventure.
How to Hike to Baring Falls: 3 Ways
Truth be told, I would’ve rather hiked to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. They were refreshing, gorgeous, and perfect for hiking with small kids. As fate would have it, we spent too much time sliding down snowy hills at Logan Pass. Snow in July looked enticing to say the least. While we, adults, found it amusing and certainly refreshing on a hot summer day, Dylan couldn’t get enough of it.
By the time we headed to East Glacier, sun was to roll down in a few hours. Still exhausted from the hikes we had done earlier, we decided to hike to Baring Falls instead of St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls. The trail was shorter, and at that time we were all for any path that demanded less walking.
Indeed, a hike to Baring Falls turned out to be a leisurely walk, neither long nor strenuous. Yet while contemplating where to park (it’s quite a problem during the summer season), we missed the initial trailhead. After we realized our mistake, turning back and hoping for an empty parking spot near Sunrift Gorge was out of question.
The hike to Baring Falls, however, wasn’t. Neither we nor Glacier National Park itself let us go of the idea of enjoying cooler air at the bottom of the waterfall. Even at that point, we could still hit one the shortest waterfall trails and hike to Baring Falls from the Sun Point area.
The walking distance was a little bit longer from here, though. Yet it had a nice bonus – gorgeous views of St. Mary Lake. How could we say no to such an astonishing idyll and the easy Baring Falls hike after that?
Hike to Baring Falls: Introducing the Waterfall
A part of the famous trio of waterfalls in the Going-to-the-Sun Road area in East Glacier, Baring Falls is an often overlooked attraction. Mostly sticking to St. Mary Falls and Virginia Falls, visitors either have enough of the cascading waterfalls before attempting to tread to Barring Falls or don’t have any clue about the third waterfall whatsoever. At the end, the hike to Baring Falls is simply out of the picture.
Yet the one-tier waterfall has all the chances to prove you wrong. Streaming down a rock ledge, the waterfall plunges nearly 30 feet, splashing its water droplets and creating dreamy mist along the way. The latter is especially refreshing after the hike through mostly burned forest.
Baring Creek, a narrow stream at the bottom of the waterfall, also strives to provide relief from the scorching sun. Carrying its freezing cold water to St. Mary Lake, it invites the outdoor adventurers to dust themselves off and dip their feet into its welcoming coolness right in front of Baring Falls.
The place looks heavenly. Or maybe it feels this way after a day full of hiking excursions. Yet this idyllic picture wouldn’t be whole without a narrow footbridge over the creek. Completing the one-way hike to Baring Falls, the wooden structure offers a prelude-view of the waterfall and its surroundings.
HOW TO HIKE TO BARING FALLS: 3 TRAILS, ONE WATERFALL
The dreamy surroundings with a waterfall at its center culminates every hike. Thus, speaking about marching though the forest in pursuit of the Glacier’s waterfalls, not one, but three trails lead to alluring Baring Falls. Every path is of different length and difficulty. Yet each one of them makes a hike to Baring Falls unforgettable.
Unique sites and a couple of popular waterfalls along the way entice experienced adventurers who prefer to cover longer distances before reaching Baring Falls. Families with kids usually long for the shortest Baring Falls hike.
In other words, the natural attraction takes into account different athletic skills and preferences of its visitors. This certainly makes the hike to Baring Falls an endeavor you can’t miss. Without further ado, here are the three hiking trails that lead you directly to the bottom of Baring Falls.
1. Hike to Baring Falls from Sunrift Gorge
- Distance: 0.7-mile, round-trip trail
- Difficulty: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 160 feet
- Trailhead: Sunrift Gorge
- Time: 30-40 minutes
The hike to Baring Falls from Sunrift Gorge is the shortest of the three trails. The path starts by following the Siyeh Pass Trail. About 0.3 mile into the walk, you come across a trail junction. Continue on to the right until you reach the footbridge over Baring Creek, located approximately 0.1 mile from the place where the trail forks.
The trail is so easy that it doesn’t even look like a hike. Instead, it reminds of a pleasant stroll you usually crave after a long drive. The bonus part of such an effortless hike is gushing Baring Falls, hidden in the midst of lush vegetation.
2. Hike to Baring Falls from Sun Point Area
- Distance: 1.2-mile, round-trip trail
- Difficulty: Easy
- Elevation Gain: 150-160 feet
- Trailhead: Three Falls Trail at west end of the Sun Point parking area
- Time: 1 hour
The hike to Baring Falls from the Sun Point area is almost double the Baring Falls Trail from Sunrift Gorge. Yet it has plenty of advantages to win you over.
First, the trailhead starts at the far end of a rather big parking lot. Needless to say, it’s a huge plus, especially during the summer season. Second, the views of aquamarine St. Mary Lake are to look forward while hiking to Baring Falls. Third, the trail is easy, mostly running on the flat surface.
As you start your hike to Baring Falls, the trail runs gradually downhill until it reaches a cliff towering over the shore of the lake. The path stays close to the lake for a while, seducing you to change your course and get closer to the water.
Nor many hikers choose this trail. Yet you can count on seeing one or two small groups taking a cold dip in St. Mary Lake before resuming their hike to Baring Falls.
Eventually, the trail winds to the right, leaving the alluring shore of the lake behind. No trees cover this part of the trail from the scorching summer sun. Endure it and move forward. As you reach a trail junction, turn to the left and continue on until you come across the wooden bridge – a sure sign that your Baring Falls hike is halfway done.
Follow the same trail to get back to the Sun Point area after you’ve had enough of the waterfall surrounded by refreshing cool air.
3. Hike to Baring Falls from St. Mary Falls Shuttle Stop
- Distances: 5.2-mile loop
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 700 feet
- Trailhead: St. Mary Falls Cutoff Trail
- End: Sunrift Gorge
- Time: 3 hours
Baring Falls is not a highlight of this hike, but rather a pleasant bonus. St. Mary Falls and, in particularly, Virginia Falls steal the show during this somewhat strenuous hiking endeavor. Many visitors of Glacier National Park turn back after seeing Virginia Falls, preferring to do a separate, shorter hike to Baring Falls from Sunrift Gorge.
Yet those who are in for the more challenging hikes feel inspired to traverse another 2 miles all the way to Baring Falls.
The trail starts at the St. Mary Falls Cutoff Trail. Similar to the above-mentioned hikes, the path runs through the forest burned during the Reynolds Creek Fire of 2015. About 0.25 mile after departing from the shuttle stop, you reach the Piegan Pass Trail junction. Keep to the right here.
A second trail junction meets you shortly afterwards. Stay on the left trail, the St. Mary Lake Trail, this time. Hike along it until you reach St. Mary Falls and eventually Virginia Falls, passing a few unnamed waterfalls along the way.
To hike to Baring Falls from here, first you need to get back to the St. Mary Falls Cutoff Trail/Piegan Pass Trail junction. Make a right turn here and follow the trail leading to the Sun Point area until it takes you to roaring Baring Falls.
To get to the Sunrift Gorge area from here, cross the footbridge and follow the trail until the Siyeh Pass Trail junction. Stay on the left trail for another 0.3 mile. Once at Sunrift Gorge, use park shuttle or walk back to the parking lot where you parked.
How to Get to Baring Falls: Location and Direction
Baring Falls is nestled in the Going-to-the-Sun Road area in East Glacier. The place is easiest to reach while driving from the St. Mary/East Glacier entrance, located approximately 10 miles away. The distance from the West Glacier entrance to Barring Falls is nearly 40 miles.
TIP: As of the summer season of 2021, Glacier National Park requires all its visitors wishing to visit any places along the Going-to-the-Sun Road area, including Baring Falls, to obtain an entry ticket. The ticket is needed during the busy summer season and can be purchased at recreation.gov.
When to Hike to Baring Falls
Portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road area is closed from mid-November through late June. To the delight of many waterfall enthusiasts, it doesn’t include the areas near the St. Mary entrance. With that said, the region welcomes the outdoor adventurers all year round. Moreover, thanks to its glacier-fed nature, Baring Falls ensures steady water flow most of the time.
TIP: Road and trail conditions, however, may be challenging during the winter season. So check National Park Service’s website for further updates.
Tips for Hiking to Baring Falls
The forested areas of Glacier National Park abound with bears. Knowing how to protect yourself in the bear country is essential when going for a hike to Baring Falls. It’s recommended to walk in groups and have bear spray within easy reach in case of a bear attack.
Keep a Safe Distance
Apart from the bears, you can encounter pikas, chipmunks, foxes, and other wild animals living in Glacier. Be sure to enjoy their company from a safe distance. The national park’s guidelines are 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other animals.
A part of the Baring Falls hike is exposed to the sun. In summer, this might be the most challenging area of the trail. So be sure to stay hydrated and well protected from he sun.
Sunscreen and Hat for Summer Hike to Baring Falls
It’s only natural to protect your skin from the sun. So wear your hat and use generous amount of sunblock. The chances are the Baring Falls hike is not your first or last adventure in Glacier National Park. Therefore, don’t let any sunburns get in the way of your future outdoor excursions.