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South Arapaho Peak via Arapaho Glacier Trail

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Indian Peaks Wilderness

South Arapaho Peak via Arapaho Glacier Trail is a 13 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 13.0 miles Elevation Gain: 3,638 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no shade

Please note: The road is closed at the Rainbow Lakes Campground and there are temporary closures in this area over the winter. Please consult the park's website before visiting.

hiking
4 months ago

I got up early today to attempt this hike and just in case anyone else was thinking about it, I wanted to let you know that the road is closed at the Rainbow Lakes Campground turnoff based on the directions that I downloaded from this app. I’ll try again in the Spring!

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous trail from start to finish. The alpine section of the hike before reaching the summit is long but the views of the Boulder watershed, Arapaho glacier, and surrounding peaks make it easy to push through. My only gripe with this route is that you can’t see South Arapaho Peak until the final half mile. Old Baldy covers the views of the peak nearly the entire approach.

hiking
no shade
rocky
8 months ago

Gorgeous views the whole way up but plan accordingly for wind and cold. I turned around before the summit because the wind was too strong and I didn’t bring gloves, seemed to mellow out on my descent though. (Started at 7am might recommend leaving later or hiking slower to get better weather). I’ll try again another time, very worth it.

Sunday September 15, 2019 Perfect hike and definitely worth doing over and over. Arrived at Rainbow Lake Trailhead around 8:00am on Sunday morning and it was mostly empty. Surprising, considering the weather was 70 degrees, sunny, and no chance of rain. Treeline ends around 2.5 miles in, about 10,800 feet. From there, it is a gradual incline to the base of the peak. Beautiful views everywhere. Lakes, streams, mountains, etc. Stunning. Also, plenty of active wildlife. We saw dozens of grouse, some marmot families, and lots of pikas and what I think were Gray Jays. Only about 12 humans. From the base of the South Arapahoe Peak, it is a steep .3 mile climb but 110% worth it. Another .7 mile walk along the ridge to North Arapahoe. We completed in just under 7 hours, but assuming you're not hiking with my wife you can probably complete in 5. No need to rush if you're later in the season. Garmin: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4063075612 All Trails: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/activity-4063075612

hiking
8 months ago

Great trail. Very long rough dirt road from Highway 72 to the trailhead. Didn’t make it to summit but got above tree line. Incredible views! Want to try again to make it to the summit one day! Worth the hike!

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked this trail on Labor Day -Gorgeous trail!!! Very challenging, especially if you chose to do the last scramble to the actual peak. But the incline was mostly gradual so don’t be deterred by the elevation gain. The road leading to the trailhead is pretty rough if you’re in a sedan. My Mazda 3 made it, but there were times I was worried I didn’t have a front bumper anymore. Watch for rocks in the road! Also don’t be fooled and park by the campsites, the actual trailhead has a big lot for you! Follow the signs towards Arapaho Glacier and you really can’t get lost. Be careful on your way back that you don’t veer off on the 4th of July trail. This trail was mostly open fields (amazing views) but only about 1/3 tree coverage. Make sure to bring sun block and water! Can be windy and chilly at times towards the top so bring layers as well.

hiking
8 months ago

Did from 4th of July Trailhead, and it was only 9 miles. Pretty the whole way.

Great trail for later in the summer so you don’t have to worry about thunderstorms as much, since mileage is a bit up there. Dog friendly, though can definitely get windy, especially in the afternoon. Hiking along the large alpine meadow is gorgeous, as the trail switches across the ridge so get to see both north and south along the divide. Only done the whole length up Arapahoe once, but have done sections of it multiple times when I don’t have as much time for the full length.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

This was an amazing hike. Had to make two trips. Came the final weekend in June and a storm was moving in when I hit the trail at 6am. Got above the tree line and the wind became too intense. Came back the very next weekend and summited the South peak. Challenging hike that is 100 percent worth it. Loved the climb to the summit and look forward to returning to this area.

hiking
9 months ago

always windy but beautiful!

hiking
9 months ago

Did this trail on a perfectly clear but very windy day. It is a beautiful but long trail and you are mostly exposed. We did not make to the top of South Arapahoe Peak, we stopped at the saddle where you can see the glacier. Total mileage was 13.2 and it took us 7:40 h:m.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

We did not do South Arapaho Peak, but stopped at the saddle overlooking the glacier between the peak and Old Baldy. We actually hiked in from the 4th of July trailhead and cut 4 miles RT out. Blue bird skies and wildflowers everywhere! Beautiful hike and amazing to see that glacier.

running
rocky
snow
10 months ago

Great to be up here as always! With other areas still have tons of snow, it was a nice surprise to have clear trails pretty much all the way. No snow up to tree line, then a few snow piles, nothing difficult. Above tree line clear trail expect for a few short snow fields and one large one right before seeing the peak. If you "keep level" through this snow field, you will have to find your way back down to connect again with the actual trail. Nothing difficult, but something to keep in mind. Beautiful views, pretty much no wind, clouds moving above presented unique views every minute.

hiking
snow
10 months ago

Gorgeous views as always. There was a bit of snow (100 yards or so) to traverse at the treeline that sort of blurred the trail a bit, but beyond that everything was gorgeous. There was a LOT of wind out of the trees, but that's the first time I've ever experienced that there.

hiking
muddy
snow
washed out
11 months ago

hiking
Sat Oct 13 2018

Great hike that really lives up to rating. Awesome views. The wind was a bit challenging near the top.

Mon Oct 08 2018

This trail was incredibly beautiful and had awesome views. The wind was our antagonist for sure; very windy it blows against you going uphill which is quite the challenge. We did everything but the last scramble and it took about six hours with small breaks.

hiking
Sun Aug 12 2018

This hike starts with a gradual incline for about 1.5 miles through the spruce and fir forest. Once you break out of the trees at timberline, the rest of this hike (4 miles or so) is exposed high tundra hiking. IF YOU HAVE ARE BRINGING A DOG...there is no water at all on this trail. Just FYI. After treeline you get your first big views of north Arapahoe peak and Apache peak. You are also able to see the lakes down on your right associates with the Boulder watershed. The hike begins to climb from this point up the tundra with a few different switchback sections. You then end up on the south side of the ridge where you have great views of eldora ski area, Mt Evans, and all the mountains on the continental divide looking towards winter park. We could also see Grays and Torrey’s, and Bierstadt, and Pikes peak way off in the southern distance. You head along the ridge here for a couple miles at a pretty even grade until you meet up with 4th of July trail. At this point you can see the peak to your right which is the way to south arapahoe peak. This is why the trail has a hard rating in my opinion. It’s a steep rock scramble up to the top but well worth it.

hiking
Mon Aug 06 2018

We did about 5 miles out and back of this trail and it was a really beautiful hike, nicely forested and at least the first part wasn't too strenuous. Not many other people on the way out as we went early enough. I definitely hope to go back to do a more extended version of the hike.

hiking
Wed Jul 18 2018

Hiked this last week. Only saw one other person on the way up until the trail met with the one coming from 4th of July trail head. This review is for the part of the trail starts at rainbow lakes TH- way less crowded but it does add 4 miles. The trail was well maintained. Long with pretty steady elevation gain. Mostly hiking above tree line with gorgeous views. Windy on the way up. Definitely recommend. We started at 7 and were down around 1. We did not do the scramble up north Arapahoe peak but did see plenty of people up there.

hiking
Tue Jul 17 2018

This trail is not MODERATE but HARD. I used this trail guide for our hike. When we finished I looked it up again and found another Arapaho Glacier Trail same trailhead, that is listed as HARD. Don't be fooled, this is not MODERATE. Great hike but hard even for us. Lots of rock on trail (feet sore) and steep incline all the way to the top. Weather changes rapidly, take rain gear. Can get very windy once above treeline. Steep/rocky terrain. Great adventure but hard.

hiking
Mon Jul 09 2018

I've done quite a few trails and this by far has to be my favorite! It's a challenging hike in some areas, especially if you decide to climb to the mountain peak at the end!

hiking
Sun Jul 08 2018

Feature rich with blue glacial ponds, alpine lakes & waterfalls, lovely vistas, meadows filled with wildflowers. A fun scramble to finished it off. Fairly easy incline for most of trail. One of my favorite CO hikes to date!

hiking
Sun Jun 24 2018

For all the people complaining about the dangers on this trail.... if you don’t have the ability, don’t do it. Meaning do not judge others opinions of safe or not safe. That is on you. This is an amazing hike that yes, has some risks. If you are not up to them, then again don’t go! It’s the MOUNTAINS. Bring gear! Bring water! It’s NOT rocket science. Don’t ruin a great trail with your lack of perpetration for where you are going. If weather comes in... GREAT! That’s what weather does. And here in Colorado it changes rapidly. Educate yourself on your adventure and you will do great. Holds true to ALL hikes. And to be honest, it’s not bad. I ran down... trail is very good for alpine conditions. Oh, and this day was in a constant state of weather change including hail, rain, fog and wind. And we had a great time! ✌

hiking
Sun Jun 24 2018

This hike has incredible views and is a lot of fun. After you get above tree line it’s a steady but moderate march to the summit. Well worth it !

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