Arapaho Glacier Trail is a 12.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, CO that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Great hike, but the wind was brutal. When I got to the top I could only stay up there a few minutes I was so cold and not prepared to endure such strong winds. You're pretty exposed half the way up. The road up to Fourth of July trail head is a little bumpy. If you're in a car you'll just need to go slow. Parking is insane so be there early.
I hiked this on Sunday the 11th. Trail conditions were perfect, beautiful views, beautiful forest with a few trees starting to change color. My little dog and I got to within about 1 mile of the overlook, and the wind kicked up.. MY GOD, THE WIND!!! Steady blowing around 60mph, with gusts over 80mph.. my poor dog got blown over a few times, and I could hardly walk against the force, so we had to turn around. Awesome trail, though! I'd never hiked to the glacier from the Lakes, I've only climbed up from 4th of July.
I know the Indian Peaks Wilderness well, but have never hiked the Arapaho Glacier trail until earlier this month. I had traveled the Arapaho Glacier trail down to the fourth of July Mine, and continued on to the Arapaho pass down to Caribou Lake. It was over 20 miles, and over 4,000ft of gain(the arapaho glacier + arapaho pass, both ways). The view from the Arapaho glacier trail is phenomenal. The hike up from the rainbow lakes trailhead is much easier than the switch backs heading up from the mine. It was one of the more tasking backpacking trips I've been on. The way back was very tasking, high winds, plus climbing up 2 ridges in the same day.
If you're looking for something more challenging than the Arapaho pass starting from the fourth of july trail head, this is a good route to take. Be warned that the Arapaho glacier trail can have very high winds, and once you get up there a ways there's a lot of exposure, and its a long way till you get to the treeline. So be smart, and get down by noon.
From the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead parking lot, the hike to the overlook is more like 12.5-13 miles rt according to my GPS, with about 2700 ft. of gain. It's a beautiful trail with great views of the Boulder watershed. The overlook is spectacular and well worth the walk. We saw only 3 or 4 other people on the trail all day. We arrived at the trailhead at about 7:50am on a Saturday and there were only 2 other cars in the lot. The campsite was full.
One of my favorite hikes in Boulder area. Views are stunning with beautiful snow and snow melt at the end of June. Go during the week to avoid crowds.
Be warned the road to get to the trail head is 4 miles of rocks and big holes, SUV recommended, i made it in our little Mazda 3 but had to drive 5 mph. Once to the trail-head you can either go left to rainbow lakes which is an extremely easy hike but nice views of multiple small lakes. Arapaho Glacier however is nearly straight up for about an hour just to get above treeline for amazing views then a few more miles to reach the glacier. Just wish we had been warned about the terrible road to get in we would have brought the jeep instead and not worried about saving on gas.