St Mary’s Glacier Trail is a must-see hike in Colorado not far from Denver and doable for anyone. Avid hikers can keep on going and it just gets better! Short hike to the Glacier and incredible scenery plus snow year-round!.
Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).
MODERATE ROCKY PATH TO BEGIN!
St. Mary’s Glacier has become a destination and is crowded with other hikers. I can remember when no one knew about this area and was a hangout with us for snowboarding in winter. Times change and now it’s popular and busy in all seasons.
First hiking through rocky terrain, up a slightly steep grade for about a 1/2 mile through a forest of pines and noticing that alongside the trail is all private property until reaching the Glacier Lake.
We have reached the end and just about to crest the top. The sky has opened up before us. Signs of weathered trees line the sides of the trail, and In minutes you feel like you are miles from anywhere.
ST MARY’S GLACIER LAKE
We’ve arrived at the glacier lake and can spot the glacier far to our right. The scenery and views are not like most trails, they are exceptional in their own kind of beauty.
People have scattered about, some still hiking, some jumping in the lake, some just taking in the views. We are still hiking, taking a trail that leads to the right and towards the glacier.
Most months this trail is covered in snow and you can hike straight up the glacier with Crampons but today in late September there is not much snow left. Although I did see a few try to attempt it bringing snowboards up.
Pack a snowboard, skis, or sled, and in most months you can go back down. Have visitors who want to see snow in summer? This is the spot!
TOP OF THE GLACIER
Reaching the top of the glacier and hiking a little bit farther on through the alpine tundra is spectacular and not as hard as it appears before you.
Fun Fact: The glacier is actually a large perennial snowfield and not a glacier.
Hiking back down the views are spellbinding. For such a short hike it’s packed full of eye candy.
Found a spot on the way down and had lunch taking it all in while wandering around the rock cliffs.
A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. Please check out “What’s in Your Day Pack” for a list of recommended items anytime hiking.
LAST VIEW BEFORE HEADING BACK DOWN
TIPS: If possible come during the weekdays to avoid parking issues and crowds. Parking is available for $5. and it fills up quickly. Just before the parking lot is a road that allowed us to park along the side. The lot was full. The trailhead is a short walk up the road from the paid parking area.
Wear sturdy boots or shoes and bring water. Short hike but it’s still the real deal with rocks and rough terrain. The weather quickly changes and depending on the season be prepared for it. Happens in minutes!
LOCATED: In the small town of Alice, Exit 238 from I-70 West. (Fall River Road).
HIke to Lake: 1 mile out and back
Open to leashed dogs
Nearest Towon: Idaho Springs, CO
Arapaho National Forest
Clear Creek Ranger District
MORE HIKES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Herman Gulch Trail, Wildflower Haven!
Native Lake Trail, Ever-Changing Scenery!
Booth Lake Trail, for Hiking Enthusiasts!