St Mary's Glacier / James Peak Hike

>>>>>> This is a two option hike. The first part of the hike will be to St Mary's Glacier which is a very easy 3/4 mile hike up a rocky wash that can be done by just about anybody. This portion takes you to the beautiful lake, and may be as far as you go. The 2nd part of the hike will continue on to James Peak which is about another 3-4 miles further.

You can choose to end you hike at the lake or continue with the rest of us to the peak. (You should be in decent shape to do the 2nd portion of the hike to the peak) If you desire to hike a Colorado Thirteener, this is your chance

History
James Peak, named after Edwin James, a highly respected botanist who was part of an 1820 expedition to the Rocky Mountains, he was the first person to do a recorded ascent of a Colorado Fourteener -Pike's Peak, 14 years after Zebulon Pike's expedition discovered it, but failed to climb it.

 

THE HIKE

The trail begins on a wide, rocky forest road heading up to St. Mary's Lake/Glacier. Keep left of all offshoots, and within clearly drawn property lines on each side of the road. The road-trail rises quickly through a high subalpine forest to St. Mary's lake. The trail is somewhat ill-defined but intuitively followed along the northeast shore toward the glacier. It narrows on a clearer path through dense willows and emerges on the north shore just below the snowfield. A few steps off the unofficial but well-worn path leads to the base of St Mary’s Glacier. Here we will enjoy an up-close look at the steepest part of the snowfield where it melts into St Mary’s Lake.


The trail continues up the north side of the glacier over churned rocks and soil pushed to its margins by the annual growth and recession of the snow mass. Footing can be tricky, and depending on the time of year, you may very well need to walk directly on the glacier. A well-defined path soon appears on the glacier’s south side, where you’ll ultimately need to cross the glacier at a convenient point and resume travel beside and up it. (For those who have never been to St Mary's Glacier, the glacier is usually slushy and easy to walk on, not icy at this time of year, you can easily traverse it with hiking boots)

The path levels to the leading edge as you emerge on a immense tundra flat where travel eases considerably. James Peak (right) and Mount Bancroft (left) emerge on the western horizon, while Grays Peak and Torreys Peak stand out to the south. The trail moves quickly through an expanding landscape to the base of James Peak, where it bends south and steepens up its east face at 2.5 miles : 11,818 feet.

The trail grows intermittently rocky and steep on a winding course up the mountain’s east face, edging close to the deep chasm between Mount Bancroft and James Peak. Views of Ice Lake emerge in a spectacular cirque between the adjacent peaks. The trail skirts a perennial snowfield (bring proper clothing (snow/water proof pants) and equipment (ice axe) and you can glissade down this snowfield as a nice short cut on the return back down) and gradually bends northwest up a broad slope with views of James Peak Lake, Little Echo Lake and the Mammoth Gulch drainage in the northern valley below. A final push over two false summits levels on the large summit of James Peak with spectacular 360 degree views and overlooking Winter Park.

Distance : 8 miles round trip

Elevation Gain : 3000ft

Difficulty : Moderately strenuous (you'll want to be in decent shape or this could become a very long day for you)

Pack: snacks, lunch, lots of water. Appropriate clothing for varying conditions, expect wind, bring water proof pants & safety gear such as ice axe if you plan on glissading.

TRAIL HEAD & PARKING FEE

The parking area is just beyond the trailhead, on the left.

The parking area has been expanded and now has 23 spaces.  The owner of the parking area has opened a new and bigger parking area which will hold well over 100 vehicles. This new parking lot is located just before the trailhead, just before mile marker # 9, on the left side of the road.

Both of these parking lots have 2 porta-potties, trash/recycle cans, dog waste bags, the parking fee is $5.00 per vehicle and the accepted methods of payment are cash or check only. If you are paying cash, please have the exact amount since there is no place to get change.

DOG REGULATIONS

Dogs must be on leash.

Bring water for fidos and yourself, none on the trail, plenty of ice cold water at St. Mary's Lake at the base of the glacier.

MEETING PLACE & TIME

WHERE: We will meet at the park and ride STEGOSAURUS LOT - Morrison exit 259 on I70. Lot is on the South East corner of I70 and Highway 26. Directly across the road from the Mathew Winters park exit on highway 26.


WHEN: 7:30AM


WHY: so we can car pool to the actual Trail Head parking lot since parking is limited at the trail head.

*** Please be on time, as we will be leaving with whomever is there by 7:45am as the hikers going to James Peak need an early start to be able to get down to avoid lightening storms.

AFTER THE HIKE SOCIAL HOUR: for well deserved drinks and pizza

Beau Jo's Pizza 1517 Miner, Idaho Springs, CO (303)[masked]


 

We look forward to seeing everyone from past events again and look forward to meeting new members!

To find us, look for Frisco, he's our black, white and brown Australian Shepherd.

* 15 minute rule will be in effect.

* Please be courteous to others and only RSVP if you really can make it.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Stephanie

    Are you here yet?

    September 13

  • Michelle W.

    I'm so sorry to have to miss again. I really had hoped we could make this one...I think Rosie would love it. Hopefully another time. Have a great time!!

    September 12

  • Stephanie

    Is it possible to meet at the trail head ? If so what are the directions?

    September 12

  • Andrew

    Woot woot! Finally, we're able to come to an event. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

    September 1

  • A former member
    A former member

    Gary, Cosmo and I wanted to go back to St. Mary's Glazier this year but we are on vacation this date.

    July 30

  • Stuart

    Hey Mike and Lora, Do the dogs have to be on leash the entire time?

    July 13

    • Mike

      Hi Stuart, yes they do.

      July 30

  • Darlene

    Met 2 more couples with 2 Aussies today at Wash park...keeping up with my recruiting lol Aussies....you can have just one ...woof!

    February 15, 2014

  • Leanne

    Happy New Year! Any idea on when this hike will be scheduled? We would love to go, and really the only time we can't is weekend of 17 January. So hopefully we won't miss it agin this year :-)

    January 2, 2014

    • Mike

      Probably not until summer, as James peak in the winter can be extreme. James Peak is typically a training peak in the winter for people going to major expeditions such as Mt McKinley and on the training path for people going to Nepal. In the summer it's a lovely walk up, but not in the winter.

      January 2, 2014

    • Leanne

      The hike up and around (not all the way up to James or even the top of the glacier) is a great easy to moderate snowshoe, if anyone wants to join us with Cooper and Sadie on a mild day this winter...

      January 2, 2014

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