James Peak

Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452

James Peak

James Peak Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"James Peak offers stunning alpine scenery and glacial goodness. Start your hike on St. Marys Glacier, traverse an alpine meadow, and then ascend an aesthetic dome to the top."

James Peak Trip Reports

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James Peak was fun, if not challenging. For savvy adventurers who like a little uncertainty, I recommend toughing out the couple of miles up Alice Road (from Fall River Road) in a standard SUV and hiking from Loch Lomond. It’s a steeper (but this isn’t really a big hike overall anyway) and the lakes might offer up a few trout when you’re done. The Alice Road approach is tedious but not difficult, depending on how far up you go. In contrast, dealing with the parking hassle and the crowds at the St. Mary’s Glacier trailhead is really annoying as a prelude to mountain solitude. The “glacier” (really, a snowfield) is more like a theme park. I heard one mom say, “Just think—now you’ll be able to tell all your friends back in Ohio that you were on a REAL glacier!” Um, er, not really, ma’am. Ben the Dog and I weaved through the crowds at the lake went up the right side of the glacier, a nice steady climb that leaves the crowds behind in nothing flat. From there you can see the summit as you cross a high alpine flatland for a good mile. The route is fairly well marked with cairns but we just sighted on the trail where we could see it bisecting the lower flanks and headed towards it until our stars aligned. Recommend sticking to the switchbacks on the ascent as a straight-line assault doesn’t have as good of footing as it looks and you get awesome views of Loch Lomond. We made it up in 2 hrs, 12 min—Jeep to Summit. ~2900’ vert. Two nice rock windbreaks at the top and a few friendly people, mellow hikers, random skiers, and giddy snow climbers. This hike can be combined with multiple summits of other 13ers in one day. I’ll be going back for some o’ dat. Back on the flatlands, we diverted south up a relatively small hump and came upon quite an oddity—I’ll leave you to discover it on your own. Backtrack down and rejoin the trail where you left it so you don’t pick the wrong drainage like we did.

James Peak Photos

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Trail Information

Idaho Springs
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
4½–6 hours
Early June–September
Arapaho National Forest
Local Contacts

Trail Log