Destination: St. Mary’s Glacier
Closest Town: Idaho Springs
About: Located just north of Idaho Springs in the Arapaho National Forest. St. Mary’s is technically not a glacier, but a giant semi-permanent snowfield.
Route: i70 to Exit 238 Fall River Road (directions)
Distance: 44 Miles
Time: 1h 40m
Trip Length: Half day to full
Season: Summer, Fall
Hike: St. Mary’s Glacier Hike
Length: 3/4 Mile
Level: The Easiest
St. Mary’s Glacier is one of the most popular Front Range hikes and for good reason. First, it’s super short, like under 2 miles round trip and the views are killer. Yes, it can be terribly crowded but when you want to impress an out of town guest or just need a quick break from the city this is your hike.
There are two parking lots near the trailhead and both require $5 cash and a pen to fill out your permit. The area is actually neither US Forest or National Park, but community covenant hence the fee for access. The area along the trail and road are private property so don’t wonder to far of the trail or try to camp, or you will be fined.Like I said, the hike to the lake is short but once you get to the lake there is lots of exploring to do. So pack a picnic, or your swim suit to go cliff jumping or your skis to get some skinning in. There is also a trail that leads to the top of the “Glacier” to your right.
Again the trail can be very crowded but Jake loved the doggie company as we were literally had a pack of goldens including 2 golden puppies. Hike up to the snow and look back to see great views of the Front Range and Rockies.