Hike St. Mary's Glacier

Colorado St. Mary's Glacier Parking Area

  • Activities:


  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    467 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

Quick hike with amazing views only 45 minutes from Denver! If you'd like a little taste of snow year round this is your spot. Pack your skies, snowboard, or sled for the way down.

Just West of Idaho Springs on I-70 take the St. Mary's Alice Exit. Take a right and stay on the main road and follow the signs for about 8 miles (watch on the right side of the road for a surprise pink pig). There are two parking lots for the trailhead. The larger one is South of the trail and a smaller one North, both of which require a $5 parking permit. We parked at the South lot and there are two porta potties which is where you need to go to pay for your for parking. You'll see the box for your permit on the outside of one of the potties (don't forget a pen).

From the parking lot head North on the side of the road for about 100 yards where you'll see a sign and the start of the trail. The trail up to the lake is surprisingly short but steep and rocky. At times it can be difficult, especially for smaller children, when going over the larger rocks. As always stay on the trail; in this case it's surrounded by private property. After only 3/4 of a mile up the trail you will start to see an opening and once you're out of the tree line get ready for the views.

First you will come upon the lake. This is is a great spot for a snack or even a picnic. You can walk around and there are plenty of spots to sit and take in the view. Out to the right you'll see the glacier, which oddly enough isn't even a glacier despite it's name, but a large perennial snowfield. The fun doesn't have to stop at the lake, as the trail continues up the north side of the glacier! As you continue up the trail on the snowfield it becomes slippery, as you can imagine, so I used Yaktrax during this part. Continue up the snowfield and it will relatively quickly open up to a beautiful tundra. Now you can turn around and hike back down or grab your skies, snowboard, or sled for a quick trip back down to the lake!

Pack List

  • $5 for Parking Permit
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Shoe traction devices/snow shoes depending on season
  • Water/Snacks
  • Layers (it can get windy)
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Overall rating: 

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If you're looking for a great hike close to Denver, St. Mary's Glacier can't be beat. Warning: Do NOT go during winter unless you have spikes, snow shoes or skies/snowboard (for heading back down). The first 50-100 yards will be pure uphill ice. The summer and fall are the best times to go, in my opinion. The hike is up in elevation the entire time, but it's short and beautiful the entire way. Once at the Glacier, be prepared for big winds and big beauty. Lots to explore and great photos to be taken. Good hike for out-of-staters and anyone needing a getaway from the city. Any city, I suppose.

2 months ago
2 months ago

The destination was beautiful, but the trail itself left a little to be desired. It just looked like a wash that someone dumped rocks on to prevent further erosion. BUT, the "glacier" itself is beautiful and the area just around that is so gorgeous.

3 months ago
3 months ago

A relatively short trail which was nice! A little steep at some points but definitely worth it to see the views!!

3 months ago
3 months ago

Went up late september and still plenty of snow to ski! Not very good snow but still fun to get some turns in. There is also a cliff that you can jump but the water is absolutely frigid. Swim out and check the depth because late summer the water drops and it can be extremely dangerous if you don't know where the rocks are. Stay safe be cautious, know before you go!!!

12 months ago
12 months ago

It was an easy hike, good for beginners. The water was very chilly. Always fun to get into those mountain lakes.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Relatively easy hike, short but steep incline on rocky path. Snow packed in sections during the spring/early summer. Gorgeous views and glacier offers opportunity for great fun! Even brought a sled for the niece and nephews!! Suggest going in the morning to avoid the crowds and afternoon thunderstorms.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

It was SOOO beautiful and the run down the glacier was the best part.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Not truly a glacier but still a neat icefield to see. The views are amazing at the top and this can be a fun wintertime hike too.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I just did this hike and it was incredible! We wanted to keep going at the top to hike down the other side, but the winds were intense. We tried to stick it out, but couldn't go much further. The higher we went, the more the winds tried to fight us. I'm not sure if the winds are always like that, but maybe try to check the winds before you go out or try earlier in the day.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Alyssa Aaron

Hiking, snowshoeing, camping. You can usually find me in the mountains with my fellow adventurists; my husband, Levi, and our Border-collie mix, Ziggy. I love CO. There's always a new sport to try, a new spot to see, or a new mountain to conquer!

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