This was another easy hike that began at the trailhead to St. Mary's Glacier
. The trail to the glacier was crowded (and easy) but once there we left the crowds behind as we continued West towards the Continental Divide and our goal for the day. After crossing about a mile of high elevation flat land (and one four wheel drive road) we arrived at the base of James Peak. Near the base of the peak we found a road/trail which switched-backed and forth (1000 feet?) to the summit.
The view from the summit of James Peak includes Winter Park Ski Area
directly to the west, Granby to the northwest, the Indian Peaks Wilderness to the north, the flat lands of Colorado to the east and the continuation of the Continental Divide to the south.
On the way back to the glacier we took a short (5 minute) side trip to see what was in the canyon to our south. There we found one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen - Ice Lake. From our vantage point, this lake looked as though it may be inaccessible without technical climbing equipment but I really don't know for sure. The lake was still mostly ice and the open water was an indescribably beautiful color of blue (reminiscent of the Pacific Ocean along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California).
From the lake we headed back to the east across the flats making sure that we would end up in the same valley as St. Mary's Glacier
- it was sort of confusing as there were several valleys to choose from.
Note: You may also wish to view the James Peak Photo Essay