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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RT Distance 2 Miles
Elevation Gain 467 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

My First Taste

This hike was my first taste of the Rockies, and it is a very enjoyable hike. Do not stop at the lake; the real fun is when you free-range off its backside and lose yourself in the crisp mountain air and the gorgeous terrain. I took a mid-afternoon nap on a nestled flat-top rock and was eventually wakened by a marmot who apparently thought me a bit odd - and an unfortunate interloper.

Great Hike Close To Denver

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.

Beautiful!

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.


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