Hike St. Mary's Glacier

    4.5
    2 miles 467 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

    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!

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    Hiking
    Bathrooms
    Dog Friendly
    Easy Parking
    Forest
    Lake
    Scenic

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    Reviews

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    🥇Top Contributor

    5 months ago

    Beautiful But Crowded

    St. Mary’s Glacier is a beautiful spot but because of it’s relatively short distance from Denver and short trail length it can become overcrowded quickly. I would not attempt this spot on weekends unless you plan on arriving early in the morning to get a parking spot and experience a sparser crowd. However, it’s a Colorado classic and worth the visit. If you make it up to the lake, I recommend taking the trail to the right of the lake that heads up to the side of the mountain. This offers a spectacular view of the valley below.

    AMAZING VIEWS IN SHORT TIME!

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

    St. Mary's Glacier is a MUST!

    This is one of our favorite hikes in the Idaho Springs area! We love it so much, we wrote an article to give you everything you need to know to be prepared for this hike. We even made a video to show you how to get there and to give you a glimpse of what to expect. Check it out here: https://thisisidahosprings.com/st-marys-glacier-hike/

    🥉Contributor

    about 2 years ago

    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 wakened by a marmot who thought me an odd, unfortunate interloper.

    🥉Contributor

    over 2 years ago

    Skiing in July

    I went up to the glacier for the first time this weekend not knowing what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Parking seemed to fill up quickly and the trail was pretty rocky but after a short hike you come to a beautiful lake with the glacier almost feeding into it. We were able to ski a much longer line than what I though was possible for July!

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