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beautiful trail and perfect weather on 1/14. 6-8 inches of snow on each side of the trail, moderately packed snow on the trail itself. used micro spikes pretty much all the way.

Great views. Did trail clockwise so went up the stairs which felt safer. Trail was snow covered and deep in places. No ice but should wear micro spikes

Made it to the lower crater lakes. Started at 9am and was back at the parking lot by 12:30pm. The last mile is a good upwards climb. Snowshoes only needed up top when you're exploring the lakes. I had crampons on otherwise.

Snowshoed 1/12/19. Tracks were easy to follow. Fairly gradual for the first couple of miles. The last mile is pretty steep so be prepared for a climb

Made it to the upper lake on snowshoes! Lots of people on skis up to the lower lakes, but I'm not sure it would be possible for most to make it to upper lake on skis - very steep! You'll need one or the other to make it to the first lakes, started postholing about half a mile from them.

Started around 8:30, got back to the car around 4, with lots of breaks and trail breaking and route finding slowing us down. Absolutely worth the effort! So beautiful.

Wow for sure the best snowshoe I've done so far in Colorado. This trail was magical in the snow! Even the drive there was delightful. It can be hard to tell which tracks to follow, but if you keep following the signs for the trail you'll get to the lake eventually! If you go up a little beyond the lake it is heckin steep but the views are stunning and majestic this trail was the best.

One of my favorite trails! So beautiful. We did the loop counter clockwise, it seems like it could have been a little easier to do it clockwise though.

One of the most beautiful trail from Boulder! This hike was a pure joy :)

snowshoed this trail 1/6/2019

beginning of trail needed just our micro spikes, transitioned to snowshoes a couple miles in. For a Sunday not busy at all..we arrived around 10am...plenty of parking. HIGHLY recommend some sort of GPS device...as you can follow 1 wrong set of snowshoe prints and add an extra mile (which made it waaaaay harder). we only went to the lower lakes as we were cold by that point. we plan on returning in the summer!

My dad and I hike this trail often and love it

Beautiful hike! The road to Monarch Lake is closed for the season, so know you'll have about an extra mile each way. We saw a family of moose close to the trailhead, lots of animal prints around Monarch Lake so be aware. Snow was well packed for most of the trail, but once you reach the switchbacks after Monarch Lake you'll probably want snowshoes, as XC skiers don't go there. We only made it to Cascade Falls and the trip took about 6 hours RT. Anyone else trying it out in the winter - good luck!

Hiked to Lake Dorothy up the Arapahoe pass on Sept 17, 2018. A beautiful day, we arrived at the trail head at 8:30 AM and were able to find a legal parking space just down the hill from the camping area. We only saw 5 other hikers the entire trip; one woman coming down, two college men who passed us on the way up and three people going up on our way down.
Very windy at the lake, The "shelter" at the the lake is little more than an organized pile of rocks that is too short to protect you from the wind. The Arapahoe trail was protected from the wind, and the sunny south exposure was very pleasant. Completed the 7.6 mile round trip in a little less than 4 hours with a lunch break at the lake.

For being so close to Boulder, I was amazed that there were as few people on the trail as there were. Completed the hike on 12/30 and the snow was pretty good - it’s certainly possible to do this in spikes, but I switched out my spikes for snowshoes after about a quarter mile and had a much better experience that way. The views at the top are gorgeous and do not disappoint! Highly recommend.

Great option so close to Boulder, a very well maintained and marked trail. I arrived at 9am and was the 5th car in the parking lot. For the first couple miles I had the trail all to myself. When I left (around noon) the parking lot was almost full. I’d categorize this loop has moderate/moderate +, there are some good climbs but also a good mix of flat and downhill - plenty of time to regroup before the next incline :) Most of the trail is hard, packed dirt (currently) and the few slick spots are manageable without needing micro spikes. (*also this loop is a solid 8 miles)

hiking
21 days ago

We did this hike in June, we started counter clockwise which was smart. The first two miles were pretty brutal with some boulders and elevation change. We pushed on and it became easier. Loved the views and would do it again. My friend and I are beginner hikers and we found this to be totally do-able as long as you are in shape. As always, I would recommend a lot of water and snacks along the way.

Views at the top are worth the lack of views during the hike through Shadow Canyon. The first 2ish miles are not bad at all. Once you hit the real elevation gain in Shadow Canyon it sucks. The last 1500 ft in gain seemed to take forever! Only section that really might want to consider spikes is after the saddle on the final ascent to South Boulder Peak. You can get away without them though with careful foot placement. If you really want to hike to South Boulder Peak, go up through Fern Canyon and hit Bear Peak then South Boulder afterwards. Fern Canyon is similar in toughness, but better views. Though when I hiked it 2 weeks ago it had much more snow and ice and spikes were necessary the last 800 ft in gain. Have fun!

the hike was beautiful, and the trail was mostly good. there were spots on the tail end of the trail (relative to the counter-clockwise loop) where spikes helped a lot. I saw an older man not using spikes and it was rough. do so at your own risk.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely gorgeous trail. Don't let the 8 mile distance deceive you, steep elevation gain and constant winds make this hike a challenging and fun winter hike. Definitely recommend micro spikes and crampons. Snowshoes aren't really necessary.

The trail basically has 4 parts: the lake, the glacier, the tundra, and the peak. Immediately you start to gain elevation as you hike up to St. Mary's Lake, but nothing too difficult. The first steep climb is up St. Mary's Glacier where you begin to notice the constant wind. This is where I went from just micro spikes to crampons with patches of ice along the climb. Though there's not much elevation climb, the trek across the wide open tundra is made challenging by the constant wind. I stayed comfortable and warm by leaving no exposed skin, however I still had to work hard as I was facing a constant headwind. I didn't it make it all the way up to the peak, stopping at a rocky outcrop before turning around. If I wasn't by myself and my phone hadn't died, I would've pressed onward. Definitely a doable winter summit hike, just be prepared!

I enjoyed a very quiet hike on the Walker Ranch Loop, right up until the end, when I ran into folks starting from the other direction. It's a lovely trail that winds through a very pretty forest. Loved the hike. No snowshoes or spikes were needed but I did use poles the whole way just cos I felt like it. We were cautious about going over the steps but didn't put our spikes on. (Always carry spikes!) Cheers.

amazing....that sums it up :-)

Great hike in the winter. We only needed our spikes for the stair section that takes you down to the river, which is the most exciting and beautiful part of the hike. Our dog loved it and the 8 miles felt more like 6 miles. The trail should be rated as moderate not hard. One note, the map above is not accurate towards the end of the loop if you do it counter clockwise. The trail has been updated and remapped for the last mile.

Love this hike, my fav! The change of scenery never gets boring.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 12/8

40-50mph sustained winds. Party of 3 with avalanche gear, rescue equip and all the layers. Glad we had it. We got about halfway through the long saddle before realizing we not only couldn’t visualize the destination by then, but also were getting some wicked frostbite on the covered areas of our faces. We made the right decision to turn back and do some rescue practice when...

Avalanche occurred on steep face of st Mary’s on our return. We spent some time on the NW side of the glacier practicing rescues and arrests. On our way down noticed a large rescue squad who mentioned an avalanche occurred minutes earlier. Visibility was 20-30ft so we didn’t believe them until we looked at the lake bed from a plateau....we knew the terrain and not to hike this area because of the risk, and boy are we glad.

Great place to practice, but even here you need to be aware. Forecast on avalanches were low-moderate risk, but the very strong winds this weekend created a cornice that when broken by a skier above, unleashed a sizable slide.

STAY TO THE RIGHT as you head up the glacial drainage, bring all the gear and make your decisions before it’s too late.

Without the wind destroying our little bit of exposed skin, it would have been a pleasant ~5 hour trek. It was a great shortened summit to the top of St. Mary’s and the two mountains on each side of the glacier. Difficult but not insane. Crampons, snowshoes, pole and maybe and axe recommended. 10-30” in most places.

Not for tourists visitors, but also not only for seasoned veterans. Somewhere in between with emphasis on basic mountain safety knowledge.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a nice hike to do in the winter. It can be pretty crowded the rest of the year. Easy to follow trail even with some snow. There were a few icy patches and one stretch on the north side but the trail was doable without micro spikes. A couple of nice stretches near the river which was flowing very well right now. If you are on a bike keep in mind there is one spot where you will have to carry your bike either up or down a very steep staircase. No spectacular views but the woods and the meadows make for a nice hike. Keep your dog on a leash on this trail. They are very strict and rangers are out watching.

Awesome hike with stunning mountain views, wildflowers, and a beautiful lake. Perfect for a single day hike. Get there early for parking when the weather is nice.

Difficult hike, but about as good as it gets! Diehards can do it in a long midsummer day, but between the AMC huts and AT campsites, as well less established campsites, there are plenty of places to spend a night. If the weather is good, it is a great way to spend the time.

Attempted this over the weekend at the height of the snowfall. Did not complete the hike as the split in the trail to head to Crater Lakes was completely covered in snow. We followed some "fresh" prints but soon realized that even with GPS and a big ego/pride, it could not be completed with the current conditions. I do not think that this can be completed with confidence with new snowfall or even existing trail conditions. Beautiful otherwise with amazing views of the Moffat Tunnel and surrounding areas. Still giving it 5 stars as I know the end result is amazing but nature didnt allow for views this weekend.

*Use extra caution during snow storms when entering/leaving the road on the trail. The snow gets high enough to not visibility to the edges of the road. I lost control of my vehicle and luckily, it took some digging and persistence to get out. Just be extra careful during the winter months even if you have good tires and all wheel drive.

We did this hike on thanksgiving day and we were happy to see many faces on the trail. It’s definitely one of the most gorgeous hikes we’ve ever done. Even in late fall with ice on the ground, this trail had a lot of scenery to offer. I’d say it’s one of the best hikes to accurately represent Boulder, as you see diverse rock giants throughout. We are quite fit so it wasn’t terribly difficult, but let’s be honest the way down was INTENSE! Complete and utter focus is required to make it down those huge rock stair cases. Saw a family of deer and that made my day.
Will be back in the spring time to see all the wildflowers bloom. You have to see this place!

Stunning views of the peaks all around. Pretty lakes below. Perfect distance for a great day hike.

As of October 28, the road up was perfectly clear, and the route has some snow and ice on it, but doable, especially if you have trax or poles. The wind on the pass was crazy, probably 70 mph-- enough to knock you off your feet if you're not bracing yourself. That and the snow on the other side kept us from going any further than the pass, but it was well worth just being on top. Great hike.

Beautiful trail but as previous reviewer mentioned, at some point near the end, the foot path in the snow deviates from the actual trail. I had a GPS with me so was able to figure this out (coupled with clues based on the trail just not seeming right). We never actually made it to the lakes but the hike was still beautiful. I would say if you don’t have a GPS, be careful as just following the footprints in the snow isn’t actually the trail & gets a bit sketchy.

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