Hiking to St. Mary’s Glacier

Have you ever hiked on a glacier? Or even seen one? You don’t have to travel to Alaska or even Glacier National Park, but if you live on the East Coast, you do have to travel west. In the Lower 48, there are over 340 glaciers in California, Colorado, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming. A few years ago, we hiked on one of the more accessible glaciers, St. Mary’s Glacier, located north of Idaho Springs, Colorado.

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After parking in one of the two small parking lots, our group found the trailhead and began hiking on a sunny, clear, but cold February afternoon. At over 10,000 feet at the trailhead, the air was thin for flatlanders like us.

We huffed and puffed with children in tow (ages 4, 6, 10, and 12), climbing only 420 feet during the ¾ mile hike past St. Mary’s Lake to a snowfield.

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At the glacier, we took photos, the kids rolled, and we watched people glacading before we headed back on the trail.

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St. Mary’s Glacier is located in the Clear Creek Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest, about an hour’s drive from downtown Denver.  The trailhead is located 9.2 miles north of I-70 on SR 275 (Fall River Road). For more information, check out www.protrails.com or call the Clear Creek Ranger District at 303-567-3000.

Trip taken February 2009.

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