Hiking Project Logo

South Arapaho Peak

Difficult
 4.8 (44) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

One of the most popular and worthwhile summits in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

8.6

Miles

13.8

KM

Out and Back

13,269' 4,044 m

High

10,158' 3,096 m

Low

3,111' 948 m

Up

3,110' 948 m

Down

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

74%

Max Grade (36°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Though somewhat difficult, this hike will prove a welcome challenge to most adventuresome children.

Overview

This route has it all - woods, meadows, waterfalls, views, wildflowers, and marmots. This is a classic hike and a must-do for visitors and Boulder County residents alike.

If you hope to have a parking spot at the upper trailhead (closest to the start of the hike) be sure to get an early start. Even though this area is harder to get to than the Hessie trailhead, it's still one of the most popular in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Need to Know

Lowered 2WD vehicles will have trouble making it up the Fourth of July Road, but take your time navigating the occasional pothole and singular medium-size rock and you'll get there just fine in just about anything. For reference, Fiat 500s have been parked at the trailhead and can make it just fine. If in doubt, just park at the Hessie Trailhead and either hike or hitch a ride to the trailhead. You can also reach the Hessie Trailhead via shuttle from the RTD parking lot in Nederland.

Description

If you're lucky enough to get a parking spot near the Fourth of July trailhead, navigate your way to the obvious start of the Arapaho Pass Trail, and head along the wooded, northern slope of the North Fork, Middle Boulder Creek drainage into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It eventually intersects with the Diamond Lake Trail #975 before continuing onto the Fourth of July Mine (elevation 11,245 feet).

In June and early July, significant snowfields and high water crossings exist along portions of this trail. At the mine, the Arapaho Glacier Trail #905 intersects. From here, the Arapaho Pass Trail continues west 1.2 miles to Arapaho Pass (elevation 11,906 feet).

Instead of continuing onwards to Arapaho Pass proper, turn right at the sign for the Arapaho Glacier Trail. The trail can be difficult to find at first look as it's set within a boggy area that could clearly become more hidden after heavy rain or during Spring snowmelt.

After navigating through the marsh, you'll find yourself ascending through sparse pine trees on generous switchbacks. Not too long after you notice the trees starting to thin, you'll be above treeline and the views of Mt. Neva and Mt. Jasper to the west will come into full swing.

Continue along the well worn trail and be sure to stop every now and again to absorb the views across the wildflower ensconced alpine meadows. After a little huffing and puffing, you'll finally reach some respite at South Arapaho's southwestern saddle. Stay left here, turning away from Arapaho Glacier Trail's continuation, and begin the ascent of South Arapaho Peak Southeast Ridge.

For the most part, this is a Class 2 ascent that most would consider a walk up. Be sure to stop and look across the Indian Peaks - the views here are amazing. On a clear day, you'll be able to see Longs Peak in all of its 14er glory. The push from this point is simply a matter of following cairns and slogging through some loose rock. If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, choose your own line to the top - it's all good.

At the summit (13,326') you'll have one of the best 360 views on the Front Range. To the north, you'll see Longs Peak. To the south, you'll see Winter Park Ski Resort and maybe even Pikes Peak. If you're unsure of what peak you're looking at, there is a sighting disk with most major peaks listed on it - a very useful tool!

Once you've had your fill of views, simply turn back around and head back the way you came. If you're still in the mood for something a little more hardcore, you can traverse from South Arapaho to North Arapaho. Be aware, the traverse is considered a Class 4 traverse and proper precautions should be taken you'll most likely be climbing at some points.

Flora & Fauna

All of the wildflowers you could dream of and a few small stands of aspen. Additionally, we saw quite a few Marmots and some Pika.

History & Background

This trailhead is named "Fourth of July" because miners marked this claim on Independence Day 1872. You can see the mine itself just a little ways past the intersection of Arapaho Glacier Trail and Arapaho Pass Trail on Arapaho Pass Trail. Take note of the very heavy mining equipment they lugged up to this spot!

Contacts

Shared By:

Tom Robson

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 44 votes

#92

Overall
  4.8 from 44 votes
5 Star
86%
4 Star
11%
3 Star
2%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#31

in Colorado

#92

Overall
1,359 Views Last Month
38,160 Since Aug 10, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
15%
0%
85%
0%

Photos

Indian Paintbrush and buttercup.
Oct 23, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Epic summer flowers.
Jul 10, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Columbine on the trail up. This is what heaven looks like. It has to.
Oct 23, 2016 near Nederland, CO
Summer flowers were crazy epic.
Jul 10, 2016 near Nederland, CO
"Life above tree line is awesome!"
Aug 26, 2015 near Nederland, CO
Summit shot from the sighting disk.
Aug 26, 2015 near Nederland, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 9 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Aug 25, 2019
Chris Horn
9mi — 7h 30m
Aug 23, 2019
Christopher Gotthelf
9.1mi
Aug 7, 2019
Reed Harrington
Completed traverse to North Arapaho and also summited "Old Baldy" for good measure.
Jul 21, 2019
Logan Shaver
Jul 14, 2019
Rachel Pisula
Spent the night at Arapaho Pass with Craig. 9mi
Jul 13, 2019
John Larson
Jun 30, 2019
Stephen K
Sep 30, 2018
Sarah B
took the trail to the Fourth of July Mine. awesome hike, beautiful views. 5.2mi