How many people can say they live an hour away from a Glacier? Personally, I think it’s pretty freaking cool!
It’s my favorite things about Colorado — this place has everything. Okay, almost everything. We don’t have a beach or a coastline, and our lakes are COLD. But aside from that, we have deserts, glaciers, forests, prairies…you can get a little taste of anything out here.
And yes, you can technically ski year-round!
Hiking to St. Mary’s Glacier
The St. Mary’s Glacier trailhead is only about an hour drive from Denver.
We arrived around 10am and the parking was just beginning to fill in. There are two lots (the one before the trailhead is significantly larger than the one just past it) so you likely won’t have any trouble getting a spot, but it’s still a popular hike so I suggest getting there a bit early. (Note: It’s a privately owned parking lot with a $5 fee to park. Bathrooms are available….if you’re desperate.)
Pro Tip: Use the bathroom before you get there. The porta potties in the parking lots are the most disgusting things I have ever seen. It was the first time I had ever seen one so …full.
The hike itself is short and quick — about 3/4 of a mile one-way. It’s a pretty easy hike, but can be difficult because of the rocks. You’ll definitely want to wear some sturdy shoes and mind your ankles! Additionally, the trail is not marked …which is kind of confusing.
Best advice I can give you for staying on the trail: Keep left. You’ll come to two forks along the hike, so if you just keep left and head up, you’ll eventually make it to the lake and just beyond there, you’ll see the glacier.
If you take a right at the first fork, you’ll come to a beautiful little stream cascading down the mountain. Definitely worth a few minutes to stop and admire! But trying to head up to the glacier this way (like we did) is a bit more of an adventure.
Regardless of how you get to the top, it’s absolutely worth the climb.
Pro Tip: Bring bug spray! There are lots of mosquitoes by the lake. I am SO glad I had some with me, or else I would’ve been eaten alive.
The best part about this hike is that once you get to the top, there is still SO MUCH to explore! You can lounge by the awesome trees that surround the lake, skip rocks, or even climb the glacier itself. I highly suggest you do the latter because the best views come with a little extra effort.
If you do head to St. Mary’s Glacier, I ask that you do one little extra thing: Please bring a trash bag and help clean up some of the trash that people have left behind. Despite it not being a place where you can stay overnight, people seem to camp and leave trash everywhere. It’s awful.
Help others enjoy this incredible experience! And please remember: Pack in, Pack out!
What’s your favorite landscape to explore?