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Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake

Central Front Range, Colorado

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Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake

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  • Skiers hiking up to the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Saint Mary’s Lake.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Saint Mary’s Lake and Saint Mary's Glacier from the air.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Trail between the lake and the base of the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • View of the lake from the trail.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Approaching the snowfields.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Glacier runoff from Silver Creek feeds the lake.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Snowboarders hike up to the glacier in the summer.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Wildflowers by the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Snow caves form under the melting snow (very dangerous to enter).- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Skiers hiking up on the snow.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Bumpy ride down the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • View of the lake form the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Wildflowers between the lake and the glacier.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Camping by the lake.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Sunset behind very old trees.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Milky Way above the camp.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Star trails above the lake.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Camping under the stars.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • Milky Way above the lake.- Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
  • - Saint Mary's Glacier + Saint Mary's Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Close to Denver. Short hike. Snow in July.
Cons: 
Very rocky trail. Shrinking glacier.
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Region:
Central Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,000.00 ft (304.80 m)
Parking Pass: 
Parking
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.60 mi (4.18 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
10,386.00 ft (3,165.65 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Like most glaciers and snowfields, Saint Mary’s Glacier has been shrinking in recent years. However, there is still enough snowpack to attract skiers and snowboarders who hike up the trail and then descend on the glacier, even in the middle of the summer.

There are restrooms at the trailhead, and there is a $5 fee to park there. Parking is limited, but there is usually enough space. The first section of the trail is very rocky almost all the way up to Saint Mary’s Lake, which is half a mile from the trailhead. It is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by very old pine trees. While there is not a developed campground there, camping is allowed.  Although close to Denver, skies are sufficiently dark to see the Milky Way and thousands of stars in clear, moonless summer nights.

From there, a pleasant quarter of a mile hike to the base of the glacier offers wonderful views of the lake and passes through willows and beautiful alpine flowers. A section of the trail follows Silver Creek, which feeds the lake from the glacier. Hiking on the snowfields can be very dangerous, but there are trails on both sides of the glacier to get to the top that provide great views into the caves that form under the melting snow. The unmarked trail continues to James Peak and other lakes in the area. There are also trails around the lake from which you can get great views of the lake and glacier.

In addition to being an excellent and short summer hike, the trek to Saint Mary's Glacier and Saint Mary's Lake is also a popular snowshoeing adventure in the winter.

Note that this trail is largely unmarked, so be sure to keep left on the two forks in the trail before Saint Mary's Lake.

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(16 within a 30 mile radius)

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