The Hike: St. Mary's Glacier in the Arapaho National Forest
The Flight: Craft ciders at Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery in Idaho Springs
St. Mary's Glacier is a signature day hike in Colorado and a wonderful outing for both visitors and residents in the state. The trailhead is located at: St. Mary's Glacier Trailhead, St. Mary's Drive, Idaho Springs. This is located just over an hour from Denver and up a switchback road to a well-marked parking lot just before that trailhead, which begins at 10,400 feet in elevation.
There is a $5 parking fee (self-pay in a provided envelope and mail slot). The route climbs to just past 11,000 feet once you reach the glacier. St. Mary's Glacier might not be technically a glacier these days as it is not flowing under its own weight any more. Instead, it's a semi-permanent ice field and still an impressive sight once you get there. I loved scaling the steep hill to the ice field and soaking in the 360-degree views on a sunny day when I first hiked it on March 1, 2022.
The hike is about 2.5 miles out and back. The first scenic location is at 1 mile into the hike at St. Mary's Lake. This is a great spot to rest because the route is a steep uphill at the start until you get to the lake.
This is a wonderful place for a picnic, and you can even go in for a swim during warmer months. A path to the right of the lake brings you around to the hill that you climb to get to the ice field.
You can cross-country ski, enjoy snowshoeing and even go sledding or snowboarding down from the ice field.
This hike is combined well with a lunch at flight at Clear Creek Cidery & Eatery, located about 20 minutes away in the historic town of Idaho Springs. Clear Creek has a nice menu filled with comfort foods, including a great cheeseburger. You can choose from about nine ciders on tap to build a flight.
I had the Lavender Lemonade, Agave Peach, Cherry Glider and Alma (apples and honey).
Check out our Colorado Craft Brewery Guide to find more great craft beer spots around the state.
Thanks for reading.
Happy hiking and sipping!