As we are relatively new residents to Colorado, we have been trying to take advantage of the easy access to the mountains. Last weekend we decided to hike up James Peak which is just over an hour away from Denver metro. James Peak sits over 13,000 feet above sea level, hence the name a 13er. This was our second highest peak we have ascended in Colorado. We previously did Bierstadt which is over 14,000 feet above sea level.
The easiest access to James Peak is by driving to the St. Mary’s Glacier parking lot. St. Mary’s is an extremely popular spot as it provides quick access to some superb scenery without too much effort. Many tourists stop here to view the beautiful lake and the nearby snow glacier. Despite it’s popularity not many people hike above the glacier which is how you get to James Peak. If you start the James Peak hike from the St. Mary’s area you will need to bring $5 in cash or check as it is a private lot. Do not park along the road as you will get a ticket and block emergency vehicles.
We arrived around 7:30 AM to the St. Mary’s parking lot and there were maybe ten cars in the lot. The hike from the lot to the top of James Peak and back is between eight to ten miles. Unfortunately, our trusty Alltrails app did not accurately track the route but based on our how tired our legs were and other people’s reviews on Alltrails, we can safely say it is over eight miles and nearly 3,000 vertical feet. This was a tough but doable hike. Our dog, Spruce, absolutely loved it and was ready for even more. This was Spruce’s longest hike ever and he was a champ.