Colorado Travel: St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado Hike

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike

If you’re looking for place to explore more of what Colorado has to offer near Denver, St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike is an awesome choice. It is a snowfield located in the Arapaho National Forest. The St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike is family friendly and a well worth it destination. You’ll get a taste of the mountains, lake, glacier, snow, postcard like trees, and wildflowers, all at the same time.

St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike is a must especially if you’re only in Colorado for a short time.

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Why St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike?

This hike is so close to the city, so you can easily do a day trip. Depending on where you are in Denver, St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike is about an hour drive.

You’ll see a panoramic view of the mountains at 10,000 ft. elevation. This hike is so beautiful, and I feel like a broken record.

When to go?

The month and season when you go are very important because the view will be a bit different. Unless you plan on snowboarding or skiing, I suggest going during August to October, so the lake is not frozen, and you are able to hike up the glacier easily. It’s like experiencing summer and winter at the same time.

My sister in law’s family did the St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado Hike in April, and the whole thing was still covered in snow. If you do plan on hiking in any season other than the summer, snow boots and warm clothing are a must.

They went in the spring and obviously had a completely different experience because everything was still covered in snow and the lake was completely frozen. It doesn’t even look like the same place. 

I’m from North Carolina, so my concept of spring is so different. Spring in the mountains in Colorado basically still means it’s winter.

St. Mary's Glacier Lake
St. Mary's Glacier lake in September
St. Mary's Glacier Lake
St. Mary's Glacier lake in April
St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike Accessibility

As a background, I did the St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike with my parents and husband. My parents are in their 50’s and 60’s. I would label this hike as easy to moderate. It is family friendly and super rewarding!

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike
St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike
My sister in law hiking St. Mary's Glacier in April with the pups. The difference between summer and spring is crazy

Is St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike Dog Friendly?

Yes! So many dogs They just have to be on a leash. A lot of them were swimming in the lake (in the summer at least).

St. Mary's Glacier Lake

What to bring to the St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike?

Always check the temperature because Colorado always keeps you on your toes. It snows during the summer, so you’ll never know what you’ll get. *Affiliate links included.

  • Hiking boots or snow boots depending on the weather
  • Trekking poles, my parents used these, and it really helped with hiking over huge rocks and going up the incline
  • Water
  • Phone or camera for pictures
  • Nausea medicine if you’re not used to the elevation
  • Hand sanitizer, you can never be too safe!
  • Snacks
  • blanket if you plan on hanging out by the lake
  • Swimsuit and towels if you plan on jumping in the lake
  • A hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper, you can never be too prepared!
  • Any hobby or sports related stuff like ski’s, snowboard, or fishing equipment if you plan on doing any of those activities
St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike

Parking

There is a $5 fee to park. It’s so worth it. There several porta potties in the parking lot with hand sanitizers and toilet paper.

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike

About the St. Mary’s Glacier Trail

I want to quickly preface that my family and I did the St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado Hike during covid on a Saturday. There were a lot of people, but the trail was wide enough where you can avoid people.

Hikers were also courteous enough to wear their mask and face coverings when there is no room to space out.

We started hiking at around 11pm and there were a lot of people, but not as crowded as it got during midafternoon. It took us about 4 hours since we people watched at the lake, walked in the glacier, and took lots of pictures. Without stopping, it should only take less than 2 hours to and back.

You can really spend your whole day by the lake to read a book and just enjoy nature.

The majority of the hike up is a very rocky steady incline, so we took a lot of breaks. Good thing is that it’s very short and you’d get to the St. Mary’s Glacier lake pretty quickly. It’s about less than a mile hike to the lake—about 1-hour hike one way.

ACTIVITIES

We stayed at the lake and people watched for a bit. There are a lot of people jumping off rocks into the lake, people fishing, and dogs enjoying the water. The water was freezing cold.

If you do decide to go up the glacier, you’ll traverse some muddy spots from the glacier melting, wildflowers, and have a panoramic view of the mountains when you reach the top.

You’ll see people hiking up while carrying their ski’s and snowboard, so they can shred down the glacier. You’d honestly be confused what month it was because you’d see people swimming and fishing in the lake and others wearing heavy coats while walking on snow

St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike
St. Mary's Glacier Colorado Hike
St. Mary's Glacier Lake
My husband making a little cameo. Here's the scenic view from the glacier.

What to do after the St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike?

Visit downtown Idaho Springs! It is about 30 minutes from St. Mary’s Glacier Colorado hike. It’s perfect because it’s towards the direction back to Denver.

Sample Colorado Day Hike Itinerary

  • Hike St. Mary’s Glacier trail in the morning
  • Grab lunch in Idaho Springs
  • Head back to Denver
  • Explore Downtown Denver

Downtown Idaho Springs is super charming. It was perfect place to get lunch. There are various restaurants, specialty shops, souvenir shops, and a couple of ice cream shops.

Wearing masks and face coverings are mandated in Colorado, so we felt very safe. You have to wear a mask to enter any business facility. No exceptions.

We ate at Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery, and I highly recommend it.

I ordered their mac & cheese and added carne asada. My husband and parents kept eating my food because it was absolutely delicious. So cheesy, comforting, savory, basically everything you want your mac and cheese to be. You have a choice between small and large size and the small was ginormous!

I also ordered a cider flight which was very refreshing.

The rest of the family ordered burgers and appetizers, but none of them came close to how amazing the mac & cheese was.

Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery
Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery

I hope this was helpful! Comment with your favorite Colorado hikes!

If you’re looking to take a trip to Colorado and need help with planning a trip or a packing list, check out my previous blog posts.

Colorado Day Hike St. Mary's Glacier Lake

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