Boulder, CO: Arapahoe Glacier Trail - Backpacker

Boulder, CO: Arapahoe Glacier Trail

From coniferous forests to intimate alpine lakes to views of the Continental Divide, this 12-miler offers classic Rocky Mountain scenery.

A strenuous trek into the heart of Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Arapahoe Glacier Trail is a 6-mile-long sustained climb through spruce and pine stands and mountaintop tundra that culminates with a 12,800-foot-high lookout next to the Continental Divide.

The first half of this heart-pounder is a shady, tree-covered journey with occasional views of Boulder County’s forested mountains. After climbing nearly 2,000 feet over 3 miles, 360-degree views reward the weary traveler. The deep blue waters of Island and Silver lakes lap up against Arapahoe Moraine’s green slopes. Goose Lake and its headwaters reach the base of the Continental Divide. 

Continue up rounded mountains on crushed granite singletrack. The trail switchbacks to a 12,000-foot saddle where hikers can enjoy 100-mile views of the Rockies. Follow the increasingly rocky trail for another 2 miles to Arapahoe Glacier Lookout, then retraces steps back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan and Chelise Simmons

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 18.6



Location: 40.0106557, -105.5714893

Glacier Rim Trailhead: Bear right onto Arapahoe Glacier Trail.


Location: 40.0169335, -105.5710602

On the left side of the trail, a break in the trees reveals a sweeping panorama of Boulder County and the surrounding mountains.


Location: 40.023283, -105.5864863

After switchbacking uphill for a short distance, the trail begins to climb up a steep grade.


Location: 40.0229733, -105.5928939

After hiking a few miles through pine and spruce cover, the trail reaches wide open space. From here, the thin, crushed granite singletrack travels west toward a series of long switchbacks.


Location: 40.0229949, -105.5974964

Pass Goose and Silver lakes on the right. Continue east for a short distance, then turn up the mountain.


Location: 40.014494, -105.614152

After following the switchbacks along the north face of the first mountain, reach a saddle with 360-degree views. West of this point, the Continental Divide stretches north to south. Eldora Ski Resort and Bald Mountain are directly south. Boulder and Denver are to the far east. After marveling at this scene, follow the ridgeline trail over a rocky, crushed granite trail.


Location: 40.0157832, -105.6438875

Arapahoe Glacier Lookout: The Arapahoe Peaks form a bowl to the left. To continue further, bear left and continue 3 miles to Arapahoe Pass. To turn back, retrace steps back to Glacier Rim Trailhead.

Glacier Rim Trailhead

Location: 40.0107214, -105.5710602

©MacKenzie Ryan

Boulder County and the surrounding mountains

Location: 40.0168021, -105.5708027

©MacKenzie Ryan

Views to the South

Location: 40.0207788, -105.5792141

©MacKenzie Ryan

Fallen Trees

Location: 40.0211075, -105.5764675

©MacKenzie Ryan

Breaking through the tree cover

Location: 40.022685, -105.5855656

©MacKenzie Ryan

Above Treeline

Location: 40.0226193, -105.5906296

©MacKenzie Ryan

Island and Silver Lakes

Location: 40.0230794, -105.5883121

©MacKenzie Ryan

Goose Lake and its headwaters

Location: 40.0179524, -105.6079674

©MacKenzie Ryan

Trail up the mountain

Location: 40.0210746, -105.5977535

©MacKenzie Ryan

The Saddle

Location: 40.0152573, -105.6122589

©MacKenzie Ryan

Eagle soaring past the saddle

Location: 40.0135482, -105.6256485

©MacKenzie Ryan

En route to the lookout

Location: 40.0135482, -105.6363773

©MacKenzie Ryan

Easternmost mountain at Arapahoe Glacier Lookout

Location: 40.0150601, -105.6427717

©MacKenzie Ryan

South Arapahoe Peak

Location: 40.0156846, -105.6436729

©MacKenzie Ryan

North Arapahoe Peak

Location: 40.0154216, -105.6432867