St Mary’s Glacier is a beautiful hike in Idaho Springs, Colorado that’s only one hour away from Denver and offers incredible views of the Colorado Rockies. It is a short but strenuous hike that takes you to over 11,000 ft, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier lake below and the mountains in the distance. I’ve hiked St Mary’s Glacier the first time in 2017 and again last month and I would definitely recommend it.
St Mary’s Glacier is about one hour west of Denver and the closest town is Idaho Springs. The trailhead is at the top of a windy road that takes you up to 10,000 ft with ample parking in a gravel parking lot. Parking costs $5 in cash, so make sure you have exactly change.
The entire hike is about 2.5 miles and 1,000 ft in elevation gain from the parking lot to the top of the glacier. When I hiked in May, the trail was still covered in snow and we used micro spikes the entire time.
The trail starts climbing immediately as it meandered through the dense forest. It wasn’t hard to follow because of the fresh footprints and there were also many other hikers along the way.
After less than a mile, the trail levels off and we began to see St Mary’s Lake! The lake was still frozen over, but it was beginning to thaw at the edges. From here, we could see the glacier behind the lake extending far up and over the mountains.
We continued hiking around the lake to the base of St Mary’s Glacier.
We trekked a bit onto the glacier to get a higher vantage point, but we didn’t go all the way because it was extremely difficult hiking in the deep snow and it was challenging to just breathe at that elevation.
The views were incredible because we were higher than most of the mountains nearby and had a panoramic view of the mountains and lake below. We could see St Mary’s Lake tucked between the sloping hills and the trees as the mountains cascade in the distance. It was also pretty crazy to sit on top of a glacier while being surrounded by snow, pine trees, and mountains.
Overall, St Mary’s Glacier is a great hike with amazing views that are definitely worth making the effort for. I personally have done this hike twice and would recommend it if you’re ever visiting Denver.