Running Eagle Falls (AKA Trick Falls): Easy Hike in Glacier
Affectionately known as “Trick Falls,” Running Eagle Falls in Glacier’s Two Medicine area is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the national park. This trail guide goes over everything you need to know for hiking to Running Eagle Falls, from route details to park entry info and what to pack.
Nestled into a quieter section of Glacier National Park, Running Eagle Falls is a fantastic short, easy hike with a big payoff and a ‘trick’ up its sleeve.
Trick Falls sometimes has two cascades—one flowing right over the other, sometimes even hiding the lower fall completely. Other times, it looks as if one waterfall flows directly out of the rock. Hence, the nickname!
The beautiful Two Medicine waterfall is also a sacred Blackfeet site, named in honor of a brave warrior woman. Amazingly, this impressive sight takes very little effort to reach.
Hiking to Running Eagle Falls is the very definition of short and sweet. The trail is less than one mile round-trip, but includes fantastic views and even the opportunity to swim or fish. And of course, Trick Falls at the end!
Tip: In addition to details about hiking to Running Eagle Falls, we included a ton of extra info. Glacier’s vehicle reservations, best time of year to go, what to bring, and more! Use the Table of Contents below to jump directly to (or skip!) a specific section.
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Jump ahead to:
- Running Eagle Falls Trail Highlights
- Running Eagle Falls Route Details
- Know Before You Go
- 2024 Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservations
- Where is Running Eagle Falls?
- Best Time of Year to Hike to Trick Falls
- How Difficult is the Running Eagle Falls Hike?
- How Long is the Hike to Running Eagle Falls?
- Cell Service in Two Medicine
- Using AllTrails for Two Medicine Hikes
- Parking for Trick Falls
- The Bathroom Situation
- Wildlife on the Trail
- Tips for Hiking to Trick Falls
- What to Bring on Your Running Eagle Falls Hike
- Where to Stay Near Two Medicine
Running Eagle Falls Trail Highlights
- Location: Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park
- Distance: 0.7-mile loop
- Elevation: Negligible (~30 feet)
- Difficulty: Easy peasy
- Pets allowed? No
- Detailed trail notes + directions
With its tremendous effort-to-reward ratio and easy access, it’s honestly surprising that Running Eagle Falls isn’t more popular (we’re certainly not complaining, though!).
Part of the reason could be that Two Medicine is a much more remote section of Glacier, on the southeast side of the park. It’s not near anything, really, including Going-to-the-Sun Road, and accommodations and services are extremely limited.
But if you ask us, that’s part of the magic of Two Medicine! No matter how many times we visit, we find ourselves drawn to this valley over and over again. It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are some spectacular short, easy Two Medicine hikes like Running Eagle Falls!
Aside from being stunningly beautiful and relatively uncrowded, it’s one of only TWO accessible trails in the entire park. The other one is Trail of the Cedars in West Glacier.
That said, don’t dismiss Trick Falls just because it’s easy. It won’t challenge you physically, but we promise, it’ll still wow you!
With cultural significance, the opportunity to swim in a mountain stream, close-up views of an impressive waterfall, and even an educational aspect, Running Eagle Falls definitely deserves a spot on your Glacier National Park itinerary.
Why is it Called Trick Falls?
Depending on the time of year, Trick Falls sometimes has two waterfalls. Other times, it’s a single waterfall that appears to flow straight out of the rock.
In the springtime and early summer, increased water from snowmelt creates a second cascade. This waterfall flows over the top of the rock above the “main” one, at times completely covering it.
Throughout most of the summer and in early fall, you see just the lower waterfall. This is the classic view of Running Eagle Falls in Glacier, and what most visitors see.
Love easy, gorgeous hikes (who doesn’t!)? Check out Sun Point Nature Trail, near St. Mary Lake!
Running Eagle Falls Route Details
The Running Eagle Falls trailhead starts just beyond the parking lot. There is a bathroom in the lot if you need it.
You’ll quickly come to a fork in the trail, with a sign pointing left for the nature trail and right to go directly to the falls. The hike to Trick Falls is so short and scenic that we recommend you do both — take one direction to the falls and the other way back.
This is exactly what we did, walking through the Running Eagle Falls Nature Trail to the waterfall and taking the more direct route back.
The nature trail is paved and has several informational signs about native trees and plants. If you’re hiking with kids, it’s a fantastic way to keep them engaged.
At the end of the nature trail, the path meets up with the other half of the loop to Trick Falls and changes from paved to hard-packed dirt. It’s still mostly wide, smooth, and flat, but you will walk over a short section of smooth river rocks.
Just after this point, you’ll cross a wooden footbridge. This is also where you get your first glimpse of the waterfall, ahead and to your left.
Once you cross the bridge, you’ll hike right alongside the creek. The water here is shallow and incredibly clear, showing off all the colorful rocks underneath.
Just ahead, maybe five minutes from the bridge, you come to the end of the trail, where there’s a wooden viewing platform overlooking Running Eagle Falls.
Marvel at the falls, take some pictures, then turn back — but make a couple of quick stops on the way. Just after the observation deck, there’s a faint side trail down to the water. This is a great place to wade in and get some photos of Trick Falls from a different perspective.
After crossing the bridge again, heading back to the parking lot, you can also stop at the “beach” area. In the summer, the water levels are low (which is why Trick Falls just has the one lower cascade!), exposing dry riverbed with sand and smooth rocks.
You’ll likely see other people here swimming, wading, skipping rocks, or even fishing (we did!). If you’re considering getting in, just be aware that it’s very cold! Regardless, the surrounding scenery is stunning, with views of Running Eagle Falls and the mountains towering overhead.
Know Before You Go
Although the Running Eagle Falls trail is truly short and sweet, there are still several things to be aware of. For one, hiking in Glacier National Park, Two Medicine hikes especially, is very seasonal.
2024 Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservations
As of 2024, you do NOT need a vehicle reservation for Glacier’s Two Medicine entrance.
You do still need to pay admission to enter the park ($35 per vehicle/$30 for motorcycles) or, better yet, have an America the Beautiful annual national parks pass.
To be clear, you did need a Two Medicine reservation in 2023, but the 2024 system did away with it. As a significantly more remote part of the park, this doesn’t surprise us — one of the things we love about Two Medicine is that even when it’s ‘busy,’ it’s not nearly as crowded as other areas.
Visiting other parts of Glacier? From May 24 through September 8, vehicle reservations are required for West Glacier/Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork between 6:00am and 3:00pm. Reservations will also be required for Many Glacier starting July 1.
Reservations will be released daily at 8:00am MST on Recreation.gov starting January 25, 2024, for a rolling 120-day period. If you don’t get a vehicle reservation in advance, next-day reservations will be released every day starting May 23, 2024.
Check out Glacier’s official Vehicle Reservations page for the most up-to-date details.
Where is Running Eagle Falls?
Running Eagles Falls is in Two Medicine Valley, exactly 1.1 miles past the Two Medicine entrance station in East Glacier Park.
The trailhead comes right up in GPS, but you’ll need to plug it in ahead of time, when you have reliable service.
Best Time of Year to Hike to Trick Falls
Summer is really the ONLY time you can do the Trick Falls hike.
Like Going-to-the-Sun Road, Two Medicine Road completely closes for much of the year. Weather dictates the exact dates, but the road generally closes by mid-October and doesn’t re-open until late May.
Believe it or not, Running Eagle Falls actually has a longer season than most other Two Medicine hikes. Two Medicine boat tours stop running in mid-September, and the ranger stations also close around this time.
Trick Falls doesn’t require a boat trip like many other hikes in this area, and it’s accessed just off the main road. As long as Two Medicine Road is open, you can do this short hike.
Keep in mind that there may be ice or snow on the trail into June, and as early as September.
How Difficult is the Running Eagle Falls Hike?
The Running Eagle Falls hike in Glacier is truly easy. In fact, many people consider it more of a leisurely stroll. The trail is wide, mostly paved, and gains very little elevation.
Note that, while this is listed as an accessible hike, that refers specifically to the paved nature trail. We detail the entire route below, but the pavement stops just after the nature trail and you’ll cross a fairly narrow footbridge.
We can’t imagine many wheelchairs would fare well on it, but the great news is that you can see Running Eagle Falls before actually crossing the bridge.
How Long is the Hike to Running Eagle Falls?
Hiking to Running Eagle Falls takes less than half-hour, even if you really take your time. With that said, you should allow at least an hour if you plan to swim or relax by the water. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better lunch spot!
Cell Service in Two Medicine
Don’t expect to have any cell service at all in the Two Medicine area. Even more so than many other national parks, cell service in Glacier is practically non-existent—especially on the east side of the park.
If you’re driving from St. Mary, stop at the visitor center (which has free wi-fi!) to use your phone and get directions set up in GPS. Coming from Browning or East Glacier Park, you won’t have service as soon as you leave the main town areas, so plan ahead.
Using AllTrails for Two Medicine Hikes
Since cell service is non-existent in Two Medicine (and really, most of Glacier as a whole), it’s really easy to get turned around — even on short hikes like Running Eagle Falls.
That’s exactly why we always download trail maps ahead of time on AllTrails+.
The free version of AllTrails is awesome, but if you’re hiking in national parks (AKA cell phone dead zones), the ability to download and access trail maps offline is WELL worth the $2.99 a month.
AllTrails+ even lets you try it for a week before committing, so there’s really no reason not to. At the very least, sign up for the free account and level up your hiking game.
Parking for Trick Falls
The parking lot for Trick Falls is right along Two Medicine Road. It’s well-signed, paved, and accommodates about 20 vehicles. There are also two designated accessible spaces (remember, Running Eagle Falls is one of only two accessible trails in Glacier National Park!).
The Bathroom Situation
There is a bathroom with a pit toilet in the Running Eagle Falls parking lot.
Wildlife on the Trail
This is Montana, so wildlife is practically a given. On Two Medicine hikes and other trails on the east side of Glacier, there’s a good chance you’ll see moose, deer, or bears.
We did the Trick Falls hike in early September and didn’t see a single animal, although we did see bear scat right in the middle of the trail. Also, we saw a grizzly on the main road just outside the Two Medicine entrance.
Tips for Hiking to Trick Falls
- Make lots of noise on the trail. Bears and other wildlife absolutely do frequent the area around Trick Falls, so don’t accidentally sneak up on them. Talk, clap, hum, or sing as you walk, especially if you don’t see any other hikers.
- For the best lighting, hike in the early morning or at dusk. If you want fantastic photos, mid-day lighting can be harsh due to all the glare off the water. We hiked at sunset in September, and you can see the huge variation in lighting as the sun dropped.
- Consider wearing hiking sandals. Much of the trail is perpetually in the shade, so it’s often muddy. Plus, you may want to play in the water near Running Eagle Falls. If you hike in Chacos or Teva sandals, you won’t need to worry about an extra pair of shoes.
What to Bring on Your Running Eagle Falls Hike
In addition to some hiking basics (sturdy hiking shoes, a quality hydration pack with water bladder, and snacks), here are a handful of items you may not necessarily think to bring along.
- Light layers. We prefer lightweight long-sleeved shirts with built-in UPF like the Patagonia Tropic Comfort Natural Sun UPF Hoody or Mountain Hardwear Crater Lake Long Sleeve Hoody, and a packable rain jacket
- Bug spray
- Microfiber towel, if you plan to swim
- Sun protection, such as reef-safe sunscreen (it’s better for the environment all around) and a wide-brimmed hat
- Headlamp and extra batteries – we LOVE both the BioLite HeadLamp 325 and Petzl Tactikka
- Navigation – again we HIGHLY recommend AllTrails+…especially in Glacier!
- Even if you’re not sure the premium subscription is for you, sign up for the free version at the very least. Use our link to TRY a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!
- Backup battery for your phone
- Garmin InReach Mini – satellite communicator for when you truly have no service. If you hike often, it’s well worth the cost. Also a great gift for outdoorsy folks!
- Waterproof cover for your hiking pack
- Dry bag (useful on water hikes, in case you need to keep your stuff dry while you cross)
- Extra plastic bag for packing out trash (ALWAYS practice Leave No Trace!)
Where to Stay Near Two Medicine
- Two Medicine Campground – The only campground in this section of the park, but it’s a great one. 2.3 miles from Trick Falls, situated at the tip of Two Medicine Lake. Open only from June-October, with reservations required until mid-September (primitive camping only after that).
- Glacier Park Lodge (East Glacier) – Absolutely beautiful historic lodge, and the oldest one in Glacier, built in 1913! About 15 minutes from the Two Medicine entrance.
- Mountain Pine Motel (East Glacier) – Small, family-run hotel in a beautiful setting within walking distance of restaurants and 15 minutes from Two Medicine.
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