Saint Mary's Glacier

EASY 1,228 reviews
#2 of 153 trails in

Saint Mary's Glacier is a 1.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near St. Mary's, Colorado that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
1.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
807 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

cross country skiing

fishing

hiking

rock climbing

skiing

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

$5 parking fee, cash only Fantastic views for the effort. The trail up is mostly rocks but not terribly difficult. Great short hike with high payoff. Some people swim at the lake.

hiking
15 hours ago

Pretty busy at the bottom, but we’re able to get to the peak, and found a little goat path back down so we were able to make it a loop and get away from all the people.

1 day ago

very short steep hike. only took us 15 minutes to get to the lake. we ended up climbing up the rocks to the very top of the mountain which was worth the view!!

4 days ago

short hike great place to spend the day

hiking
5 days ago

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!

5 days ago

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.

hiking
6 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.

7 days ago

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!

8 days ago

nice short and easy trail with a well worth it view

hiking
8 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.

hiking
8 days ago

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

hiking
9 days ago

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!

hiking
10 days ago

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
10 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

hiking
13 days ago

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.

13 days ago

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 : )

hiking
14 days ago

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!

19 days ago

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.

19 days ago

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
20 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.

hiking
20 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
21 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

hiking
21 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
22 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.

22 days ago

Great Trail to take out-of-towners, especially ones from a lower elevation, on. It is kind of higher in elevation, but there's barely any gain during the trail and the trail itself is nice and short while still having breathtaking views to make it worth it.

hiking
23 days ago

It is a beautiful hike. The first half is fairly easy. You come to a beautiful lake at the base of the glacier. The second half is all in Rocks. The views are beautiful

24 days ago

This was a great hike with an amazing view! The parking is rocky as well as the hike itself but totally worth it once you get to the lake!

skiing
24 days ago

First time doing St Mary’s Glacier since I was a young boy. I brought my skis with me to see if I could get some turns in.

Got to the parking lot a little before 8am, and I was the second car in the lot. Trail splits quite a bit, but all roads lead to the lake for the most part.

I got up to the glacier at 9am. I brought Yak Traks with me, but the glacier wasn’t too slippery where they were needed. There were a couple spots at the top of the glacier which were fragile and it was possible that a cave in could happen if you stepped on the wrong spot. I waited a while to strap the skis on to let the glacier soften up. Rode down with a snowboarder I met up there. I call this run the rodeo because it only lasts 8 seconds and it’s so bumpy that it bucks you. It was a worth while experience because I got to ski in August, which not many people can say.

On the way back down, I ran into quite a few tourist that were amazed I had skis with me. This is definitely a good hike for those visiting Colorado for the first time. I recommend going on a week day if you can. And the hike up, although not long, has quite a few loose boulders, so people should take their time.

All in all a good trip, I want to go back in late June, so I can have more of the glacier to ski and it might be less bumpy.

25 days ago

Beautiful views! Very rocky trail (rocky parking lot too) and lots & lots of people. Still worth it for the view but get there early so you can get a parking spot. A bit frustrating due to the volume of people and lack of parking or hiking etiquette.

Make sure you have good shoes... it was entertaining watching a dude trying to walk on the glacier with flip flops on. Even sneakers would be hard on the rocky path. Good hiking shoes would be best.

There are lots of little trails around the lake. The views are best up these little trails.

25 days ago

Beautiful views! Very rocky trail (rocky parking lot too) and lots & lots of people. Still worth it for the view but get there early so you can get a parking spot. A bit frustrating due to the volume of people and lack of parking or hiking etiquette.

Make sure you have good shoes... it was entertaining watching a dude trying to walk on the glacier with flip flops on. Even sneakers would be hard on the rocky path. Good hiking shoes would be best.

There are lots of little trails around the lake. The views are best up these little trails.

hiking
25 days ago

The trail is wide, but it's mostly loose rock, so I would rate this as moderate (but still worth it). We spent about an hour and a half hiking up, around, and back to our car. Do your best to follow the way that you came in; there are lots of smaller paths that lead to private property & we got off trail accidentally. Make sure you have $5 cash for the parking fee and bring lots of water!

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