Arapaho Glacier Trail east

Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

Elevation Gain3,076ft
Trailhead Elevation10,003ft
Elevation Min/Max10003/12719ft
Elevation Start/End10003/10003ft

Arapaho Glacier Trail east

Arapaho Glacier Trail (east) is a hiking trail in Boulder County, Colorado. It is within Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and Roosevelt National Forest. It is 5.4 miles long and begins at 10,003 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,076 feet. The 15., 12, 14, 10, and 11 camp sites are near the trailhead. The 16 camp site can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Arapaho Glacier Trail and Arapaho Glacier Th Link.

Arapaho Glacier Trail (east) Professional Reviews and Guides

"Abundant wildflowers, alpine lakes, and spectacular views of Arapaho Peak and Arapaho Glacier are the highlights of this long day hike, which has considerable elevation gain and loss.

If you can arrange a shuttle, have one party park at Rainbow Lakes Campground and the other at Buckingham Campground at the Fourth of July Trailhead. Trail conditions: The trail sees a lot of use and is well maintained."

"You can enjoy a wildflower-studded hike to stunning views of Neva and Jasper peaks and Dorothy and Diamond Lakes. It is a nonstop Rocky Mountain panorama on a gradually ascending trail. You can also visit the ruins of the Fourth of July Mine at 11,245 feet.

If you are ambitious, you can take this trail across the Continental Divide and into the Grand Valley. You can also summit Mount Neva (12,814 feet) from Caribou Pass, but it is an exposed, difficult rock route."

"Although it’s size today is scarcely a shadow of its former mass, Arapaho Glacier still retains the distinction of being Colorado’s largest glacier. It is only about a quarter-mile long, a half-mile wide, and 200 feet thick-tiny by world standards.

Nevertheless, it really is a glacier and not just a snowfield. Geologists from the University of Colorado have confirmed that it is still moving, ever so slowly, so it is classified as a true glacier. Arapaho is also one of the state’s most easily accessible glaciers. It is situated only 3.5 miles from the Fourth of July Trailhead, and there is an excellent viewpoint high above its southern slopes in a shallow pass between Caribou Peak and South Arapaho Peak."

"This is a fantastic day hike up to Lake Dorothy via the Arapaho Pass Trail, one of the best trails in the wilderness area for viewing wildflowers.

Trail conditions: The lower section of the Arapaho Pass Trail is extremely popular during the summer months and sees heavy traffic on the weekends. The lower section of the trail stays wet early in the season; the upper section is rocky up to Arapaho Pass."

"Nestled in a high alpine cirque in the south end of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Arapaho Glacier is one of only a few glaciers still found in Colorado. Although geologists are not quite sure whether these permanent ice fields are left over from the last ice age or if they formed within the last few thousand years, they do show signs of movement characteristic of glaciers.

Because Arapaho Glacier falls within land set aside by the City of Boulder for its water supply, it is off-limits to hikers. It is possible, however, to hike to the south ridge of South Arapaho Peak for a good look at the geologic anomaly."

"Arapaho Glacier is the most southerly glacier in the Rocky Mountains. The Arapaho Glacier Trailhead begins at the entrance to Rainbow Lakes Campground.

Arapaho Glacier Trail, which climbs to unsurpassed alpine tundra views, coincidentally wanders back and forth between watershed and Indian Peaks Wilderness, and from which hikers constantly are reminded not to stray."

"Archeological speculation suggests Native American use of this pass for some 4,000 years, but the Arapaho did not show up until the late 1700s.

At 11,906 feet, well above tree line, Arapaho Pass seems inaccurately described as a low point on the Continental Divide in Indian Peaks. Rather, it is the least high point over which to pass from Middle Park on the West Slope to Denver and Boulder on the East Slope."

"As you walk up the Arapaho Glacier Trail past treeline, a spectacular sight unfolds before your eyes. Jagged peaks on the spine of the Continental Divide suddenly appear above the rounded curve of the alpine tundra. Far below to the right is Boulder’s beautiful Silver Lake Watershed, with its string of pristine lakes.

The alpine tundra, rich with colorful wild?owers, stretches to the horizon. At the 2.5-mile viewpoint turnaround, you catch a glimpse of the remains of the Arapaho Glacier. Two additional options are o?ered here, depending on the weather and your preference."

Arapaho Glacier Trail (east) Reviews

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Beautiful! This is one of those hikes I will never forget--it was challenging and completely rewarding. The views are incredible once you get above the tree line. The exposure also brings some crazy winds, so we fortunately packed some layers since we assumed the weather could change at any time hiking in alpine tundra. Some people don't follow the trail as far or scramble up the peak at the end, but it is still an awesome hike. Do as much or as little as you want. It is an amazing place to be.
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Started with intermittent morning rain and hiked into high winds on the exposed portion of the trail. Very beautiful. Few hikers today. Will return and hope for better weather to soak in the peaks and views of lakes nestled in the area.
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this is a great trail! the weather was a little scary so I would recommend going later in the summer. One caution, it says that you have to travel 6 miles to get to CR 116, but you have to go about 7 miles and then 3 additional miles on CR 116.
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By far one of the coolest hikes in Indian Peaks. This trail has something for everyone. The alpine views are 1st class the whole way up. You can contiunue up past the lake for some fairly technical summit attempts. If you want to try some 14ers, this trail is the place to start. Bring your camera!!!!
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Pix are at Look at the Dorothy Lake album. Really great views at the pass, worth the hike. Bit of a climb to the turnoff sign, then more climbing to the mine. Gentle climb the rest of the way to the pass. We went on up past Dorothy to the first summit before Neva -- well worth the view on the other side, including WinterPark ski runs, and all the way to Lake Monarch and beyond. I was told the best weekend was the last two of July, as the wildflowers are supposed to be great. In any case, truly enjoyed the hike, and recommend it.
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July 6, 2005 day hike. Best conditions, sunny day, plenty of wildflowers (Columbines, Paintbrush, etc). Great hike with stunning views all the way to the Pass and Lake Dorothy. Some snow fields along the way. Start temperature 70F, at Pass with winds 50F. Trail guide accurate. Start time 10:00am; Out and back 5.0 hours with hour for lunch at Lake Dorothy. Carried 30lb pack for exercise. Some trail running on return. Five mile dirt road to trailhead puts you already deep into the valley at high elevation. Possible return for camping in valley near Diamond Lake, and then hike over Pass down Caribou trail into Columbine.

Arapaho Glacier Trail (east) Photos

Trail Information

Roosevelt National Forest
Nearby City
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
USDA Forest Service, Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder Co 80301; (303) 541-2500;
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated Indian Peaks; USGS Monarch Lake, East Portal, Nederland
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018