The Lake McDonald Corral is located across the road from the Lake McDonald Lodge. Lake McDonald is the largest of Glacier’s 250 alpine lakes and the area around the head of the lake is home to a rare cedar forest. We offer several rides from this location. Additional time for paperwork, safety briefing, and loading process is not counted in “time in the saddle”. Please plan for an extra 45 minutes for the check-in process.
The image above is an approximate representation of the Lake McDonald Horse Use Trail System, not to scale.
1 hour in the saddle
The beautiful old growth forest of the Lake McDonald area is a special treat and we are excited to share it with you. This easy, non-stop, one hour ride meanders underneath the canopy of the cedar forest. It is quiet, sheltered, and the terrain is mild, making it great for beginners or those with a busy schedule. Availability may be limited, especially after our Sperry rides begin in mid-July. Cedar Forest riders must be 7 years or older. Riders must be 250 pounds or less, but riders under 6 feet tall should be no more than 225 pounds. After September 15th, all riders must be no more than 225 pounds.
Upper McDonald Creek
2.5 hours in the saddle
This non-stop two and a half hour ride takes you through the oldest forest in Glacier National Park with Red Cedar and Hemlock trees providing a cool shade. Pop out of the forest to enjoy Upper McDonald Creek at the Dancing Water Cascades. You’ll have a glimpse of everything from mountain views to huckleberry patches and glacial erratics. Keep your eyes open for mule deer or even a bear! Please be aware that this ride goes over the roaring creek on a tall wooden bridge, and it goes under the Going-to-the-Sun-Road through a tunnel. Upper McDonald Creek riders must be 7 years or older. Riders must be 250 pounds or less, but riders under 6 feet tall should be no more than 225 pounds. After September 15th, all riders must be no more than 225 pounds.
Full Day in the saddle
On August 31, 2017 the Sperry Chalet hotel building was lost to the Sprague Fire. However, thanks to the cooperation of the National Park Service, Belton Chalets Inc., the Glacier National Park Conservancy and numerous donors from the general public, Sperry has been rebuilt! Since the Sprague Fire burned in a mosaic pattern, you may be equally surprised by both the changes from the fire and how much remains the same. Mixed with the untouched portions of forest are standing snags, charred logs, and the truly rocky bed of forest floor. At times, fireweed and bear grass bloom along the exposed portions of trail. There is far less tree cover as a result of the fire, so not only is this ride best suited for advanced riders due to the challenging terrain, but it is also a very hot trail for hikers and riders alike. Please be sure to be well prepared with water, snacks and stamina for the trip.
You will gain 3,300 feet in elevation across the on the 6.7 mile trek up to Sperry Chalet! The steep ride down can be hard on rider’s knees. Many guests choose to walk down instead of ride. This allows them more time to explore the area around the chalet. Guests intending to stay or camp at the chalet will need to pack extremely lightly, or opt for a pack horse for an additional fee. Read more about allotted space for gear in the pdf below.
We do not provide lunch on the ride and encourage you to bring your own, or inquire ahead with Sperry Chalet. For your safety you are required to bring at least 1 liter of water, and at least one snack item. All-day rides must be booked at least one day in advance and require a four person minimum (smaller groups can be combined). Sperry rides are typically not available until mid-July. Sperry riders must be 10 years or older. Sperry riders must weigh no more than 225 pounds.
Trout Lake- Full Day
Full Day in the saddle
Trout Lake is nestled in the valley just north of Lake McDonald. With a steep elevation gain of 4,200 feet to the saddle in between Mt. Stanton and Mt. Vaught, this 6.2 mile journey is not for the faint of heart. The ride is very long and is at times very exposed to the elements. In some places the steep grade and switchbacks are intense. However, the view into the McDonald Valley and then the Camas Valley is stunning. You will see multitudes of berry bushes, beautiful wildflowers, picturesque mountains and streams and lakes abundant with fish. We’ll stretch our legs at the quiet, scenic lake for lunch with views of the Garden Wall before returning over the mountains.
We do not provide lunch and encourage you to pack your own. For your safety you are required to bring at least 2 liters of water, and at least one snack item. All-day rides must be booked at least one day in advance and require a four person minimum (smaller groups can be combined). Trout Lake rides are typically not available until mid-July. Trout Lake riders must be 10 years or older. Riders must weigh no more than 200 pounds.