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This trail does get packed later into the day and holidays, so the earlier you go the better and there are two parking lots (north and south of the trail) that cost $5.00 cash to access. The trail head is in between the two lots. While I was there, there weren't many people on the trail and it was very peaceful. If you take the trail to access the lake just follow the main trail, don't veer right until you start to see the lake through the trees on your right hand side, then you can climb down to it using the paths.

The drive up to the trail head is beautiful in the fall, aspens cascade down both sides of the road (which has been newly paved at the time of writing this). The trail starts off wide with some loose rocks, but it is not difficult to hike and it's a short hike if you're just trying to make it to the lake itself. The main trail is nice with lots of foliage and boulders to rest on if you need to catch your breath due to altitude. Once you get to the lake the landscape becomes absolutely breath taking! While my husband I were there the water was unbelievably cold and it's colors were beautiful! Shallow parts of the lake were tan, but then others had a beautiful blue hue and it was completely clear!

If you want the hike to be a little more challenging (and a bit longer) hang a right and walk around the bank of the lake and go up towards the glacier. There is a trail to follow that goes up to the glacier and then up to the very top of the mountain itself. There is a warning sign saying it's not an official part of the trail, so take caution. There is wet ground and slippery rocks around due to the glacier and you may lose footing if you aren't careful or wearing proper shoes. My husband and I climbed up to the glacier bit and looking out over the lake and physically feeling the glacier was a wonderful experience. Pictures will be posted on here soon! Over all, this trail is easy, but you can make it more challenging and looking out over the scenery next to a glacier is not a bad way to spend your morning!

Not sure where the main trail head is, we walked 20 minutes over all rock. Tried to hike up next to a waterfall like stream and had to turn around. Terrain and climb was moderate to difficult with little or no payoff. Many people around us were really confused too-very disappointing.

one of my favorites

hiking
2 days ago

Great easy, short hike for out of towners with a high reward. Extremely crowded which is to be expected for such an easy hike. I highly recommend continuing up to the glacier for a bit more of a challenge plus some great views.

we hiked this trail with our 3 and 5 year olds and it was great! easy enough for them to do without complaining. it took us about 25 minutes to get from the trailhead to the lake. the views from the top were beautiful! the actual hike is fine but not particularly scenic and quite a few people which is to be expected for a beautiful Saturday. we will definitely do this hike again!

nice short and easy trail with a well worth it view

hiking
4 days ago

Fun and quick trail. It’s a bit rocky and steep, but an easy trip to do for a nice view of the lake. The lake was pretty and there’s a good area to hangout and swim.

Absolutely gorgeous views for a relatively short hike. The incline makes you work a bit!

Fun hike! We did a hard 8 miles in the sun and shade. Dogs loved the stream!

This was my introduction to Colorado. It was the perfect distance (for a guy coming from 700ft about sea level). Absolutely beautiful place and great for breaking in the lungs too!

The start of the trail was a little confusing. It’s mostly a rock path. Once you get close to the glacier it gets pretty steep. It’s a beautiful hike nonetheless!

hiking
7 days ago

This is a popular place. I used to live in Colorado and do this hike 3-4 times a year. In the early spring you get a lot of run off. Late July and Aug is the best and you can even take a dive into the lake. Great place for pictures as you summit to James Peak. In Feb/ March this is a great place to sled or ski. We have hiked with our children up to the lake and sled all the way back down to the parking lot.!
Go on a weekday or non holiday! every other day is busy and too crowded. Easy hike for all levels

Amazing hike for such low elevation and so close to home. Went with buddy and three dogs. Enough vertical gain to get the heart rate up without being too strenuous. Beautiful views to the southwest toward Indian Peaks/Continental Divide. Hope to go back another time and add Walker Ranch. Be sure to bring $8 cash if you're going at a time when a ranger might not be there to swipe your credit card.

First hike anywhere in the Rockies, first mountain hike in years. Parking was good but we arrived around 9:30 a.m. - Returned at 11:40 and the lot was jammed. Trail was fun, mostly rocky, a bit steep the way we went (to left and up, takes you to S. end of lake, off to the right at trailhead would take you to N. end of lake). Though rocky, not marked, it's a nice wide trail the way we went, fairly obvious and I was told more direct as it led to near side of lake.

I did this September 9th 2018 and it is NOT easy, lots of boulders and rocks to slip on but lots of boulders to rest on, when you get to the lake or when you see the lake and St Mary’s Glacier, it all makes it worth while.. just take your time and look around, life is beautiful : )

Trail was very busy, hard to find a spot to park on a very rocky parking lot. Very rocky trail with no clear markers on the trail, pretty good incline on the trail so I would mark it more moderate. Very pretty once you get to the lake and if you go further up it’s cool to see what’s left of the glacier. But again so many people!

on Bear Peak Trail

13 days ago

Spectacularly beautiful with varied terrain and a challenging ascent. Good work-out, mid-week not crowded and a well-marked trail. Saddle offers a nice spot for a break. Final segment rutty but accessible. We started at NCAR and went up Fern Canyon trail.

A local told me about this. We went early evening and there were plenty of people there. It
Was fun to watch the people and dogs slide down the ice. Rocky uphill but if you look to the left in the trees there is a barely visible trail that’s easier to walk.

Cool experience to hike a glacier in the summer. Kids thought it was awesome. Crowds were crazy but it may have been bc it was Labor Day weekend.

hiking
16 days ago

It was Labor Day so I expected crowds and they were for sure there. We arrived late, about 9:30 and there was plenty of room in the lower lot. When we left around 11:30 the lot was crazy. People were making spots, nearly blocking cars in and people had little patience. Hike to the lake itself it rocky and a more a “moderate” based on incline and loose rocks but it’s so short it probably gets bounced down to an “easy”. Be aware though it’s not a typical “easy” that is just a walking path. Lake is very pretty and reflect off the water nicely. We took our trekking poles and hiked up the glacier. Fun experience. Also saw two skiers taking runs on the glacier. I sure wouldn’t do it but it was fun to watch! Trekking poles are a big plus if you plan to go past the lake at all or over the glacier to the nearby trails. Based on the easy rating and proximity to Denver this trail is packed and packed with little kids and families. So just know it will be loud and somewhat (ok, a LOT) annoying if you go on a weekend. Still a quick and pretty hike with options to take it up to a moderate and get away from most of the kids if you go higher.

Nice trail! Not magnificently scenic but it’s pretty in its own way. We went on Labor Day morning and there were very few people there, so it was great. I can see how it would be a pain if there were a lot of bikers on it though. Overall a pretty trail! Our dog had a blast!

Great hike! Pretty views of the mountains and of Denver while also having the sound of the river and being able to go down to the river at Walker Ranch Trail when you get to the end of the Canyon Trail. The River is just down a small hill so it's worth the extra steps. Today it was partly cloudy which was nice b/c it didn't get too hot on the trail. The parking and trail became more crowded around 11am so getting there early is beneficial.

on Bear Peak Trail

trail running
16 days ago

This hike is well worth the effort especially for some good views of the flatirons and front range. As you get closer to the top, the climb becomes more technical with boulders and loose rock, but nothing that an able-bodied human or canine can’t do. My pup and I ran most of the way until we hit the more technical sections and it was a blast! Highly recommended for those in the area but I can see how this hike can be dangerous if weather is hot and dry. Bring plenty of water esp. if you have a pup out there.

hiking
16 days ago

I’ve lived in Colorado for 10 years and heard a lot about this hike and have never done it because of the infamous crowds. We hiked 2018 Labor Day weekend. Crowds of course were everywhere and cars were parked every which way, including ignoring tow away zone signs. There were no spots in the pay lots and we parked off a small street a little downhill for free. The hike is just rocks uphill until you get closer to the lake. There is no marked trail and people march through to the lake anyway they want. I’m fit and didn’t have a problem, but other people in our party did, so I wouldn’t say this hike is easy. I’d call is moderate. There are crowds of people on the trail and at the lake. People bring chairs, hammocks, and make a day of it. The lake is pretty, but by Colorado standards, it’s just ok. I’m sure my experience is influenced by the number of people there. On the way back to our car, a truck was speeding by, almost hit my son, and when a man tied to wave at him to slow down, the guy stopped and got out of his car and started yelling, “I’m a resident of this community and y’all are rude and ruining this place!” My husband had to get in his face to get him to stand down and drive away. So... I’d say locals are not happy about the crowds either. I’d say there are better trails— go elsewhere.

hiking
17 days ago

Awesome peak! The directions are a bit confusing, you actually start the hike at South Mesa Trail and then I used the map on here to see which way to go when the trail heads intersected. Definitely worth the hike to the top.

hiking
17 days ago

Great hike! Uphill from the beginning, pretty rocky, but definitely do-able! Lots of people on the trail today- kids and dogs as well so plan ahead. GET THERE EARLY! We got there about 9:45-10am and by the time we were leaving it was so chaotic! Huge parking lot with no lines so people just park like it’s a free for all! The parking lot is also very rocky, make sure you bring a car than can clear or dodge large rocks

This trail is dope! Great for mountain biking and hiking! This open spaces provides: Filtered Water, maps, lots of parking, and clear instructions. Please note, biking one ways on ODDs is enforced.

hiking
17 days ago

2018 Labor Day weekend: We got here about 7:30 am, and were only the 3rd or 4th car in the lot. Left to find primitive tent camping near the creek about 3 miles away, and came back at 9. The lot was already about 60% full when we came back.

FEE: There is NO CHANGE for the $5 parking fee. We only had a $20 bill, so we had to ask around.

HIKE: the hike is considered easy, but I was already a little winded going up the first half with all the rockiness and carrying my 1 year old. The second half is much easier as you go to the lake. We didn’t get to go up to the glacier as some others did. We stopped at the lake for a small picnic with our 1 and 5 year old. It was gorgeous, the water was clear, and ice cold. It was very chilly once we got to the lake, so jackets are a must!

TRAFFIC: It was a pretty heavy traffic weekend hike, as every minute or two you have people coming by or leaving. It didn’t bother us to have so many people nearby since it was our first time hiking this trail- it was nice to have other people to be following toward the lake.

DESCENT: Hiking down is much easier and quicker, and a bit slippery at times.

EXIT: The parking lot was about 200% full. Some cars had blocked each other in, and we couldn’t even loop around the parking lot with our small civic. We had to turn back and carefully find our way out without bumping into anyone. We were there on Labor Day weekend, with a lot of out-of-towners vacationing, so I can’t say that this is normal.

hiking
18 days ago

Exactly as the description states. incredibly beautiful and stimulating in every aspect! With ever changing scenery and wildlife, a nice easy warm-up, and the most incredible view as a reward from the peak, this my favorite trail to date.

hiking
18 days ago

Bring your jacket! Lots of spaces to climb. Loose gravel makes going down a bit more difficult. The lake is a pleasant space for a picnic. It was fun to watch skiers go down the glacier.

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