Hike St. Mary's Glacier
Colorado › St. Mary's Glacier Parking Area
Added by Alyssa Aaron
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!
- $5 for Parking Permit
- Shoe traction devices/snow shoes depending on season
- Layers (it can get windy)
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Pack in your skis for late summer turns
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!!!
A CO Favorite
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.
High winds at top of snowfield
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.
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