Colorado, Arapaho Glacier Trail

State: Colorado
Location: Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
Length, One-Way: 7.8 miles
Trail Type: Out and Back
Minimum Elevation: 10000 feet
Maximum Elevation: 12700 feet
Best Season: Summer, Fall
Difficulty: More Difficult
Usage: Heavy

Winter ices over the Colorado River

Trail Information

Take the Arapaho Pass Trail to the junction with Arapaho Glacier Trail and take a right. The Arapaho Glacier Trail leads northward from the junction, entering the Indian Peaks Wilderness before long. It climbs through the woods for about two miles, then comes out onto the open tundra with a fine view into the City of Boulder Watershed, including Silver Lake, Island Lake, Goose Lake and Triple Lakes. This is private property, do not trespass.

After more switchbacks, the trail crosses a col to the south side. From here it is less traveled and can be obscure in places as it continues gently along the side of the ridge. At the highest point on the trail (6.0 miles from the trailhead), the hiker is offered a spectacular overlook of the Arapaho Glacier and the South Arapaho (el. 13,397 feet) and North Arapaho (el. 13,502 feet) Peaks.

Although no official trail exists, it is possible to ascend South and North Arapaho Peaks by following the ridge above the glacier. (The climb to South is straightforward rock-hopping. From South to North, some scrambling is necessary and there is some exposure. This does not require technical climbing/equipment, but the narrow ridge is steep and rocky. Use caution!) Past the glacier overlook, the Arapaho Glacier Trail descends 1,300 feet down a series of switchbacks to intersect the Arapaho Pass Trail at the Fourth of July Mine. Arapaho Pass is 1.2 miles farther west.

The Arapaho Glacier Trail is a spectacular snowshoe adventure for those looking to get out in winter.


The trailhead is located approximately 7 miles north of Nederland, on Highway 72, turn west onto Rainbow Lakes Road (a.k.a. County Road 116 and FDR 298).

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