The St. Mary’s Glacier trail is a great place to experience the breathtaking sights of a beautiful lake, high mountains, and their sparkling jewel, the St. Mary’s Glacier, without going too far from Denver. It is located just ten miles away from Idaho Springs by the small town of Alice. The trail to the Glacier is an easy ¾ of a mile hike from the parking lot. When you reach the end of the trail, a clear, glistening, St. Mary’s Lake will greet you unexpectedly.
People fish and play in the icy glacier water. If you are lucky, you can witness people cliff diving in the St. Mary’s Lake. Beyond the St. Mary’s lake, the St. Mary’s Glacier looks dazzling in the summer sun. From the lake, it looks like a patch of snow, but when you come closer, it looms high above you. To all who are watching, you would look like an ant compared to its size.
It is fun to watch daredevils ski and snowboard on the steep slope of the glacier, but I would not recommend trying it on your own.
The St. Mary’s Glacier is one of few places in Colorado where you can see bristlecone pines almost two thousand years old up close. A park ranger told me that the pines here are not nearly as old as the bristlecone pines that grow in Nevada because the growth conditions in the Rocky Mountains are too good for these trees. They are used to high winds and less water. The glacier is a great place for bird watching. If you are careful, you can spot a white-crowned sparrow, blue jay, and other colorful birds. Also, on rare occasions, people may see big horn sheep and mountain goats on the rocks there or deer in the woods around.
When you go on this hike, I would recommend wearing good hiking boots, having a jacket, and being prepared for any weather. You could also bring a fishing pole because there are many trout in the St. Mary’s Lake. Dogs are allowed, so you bring along your furry companion too.
The trail is open year round, so it is never too late to explore the beautiful St. Mary’s Glacier.