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South Arapaho Peak

 4.9 (32)

8.6 Miles 13.8 Kilometers


67%

Runnable

3,213' 979 m

Ascent

-3,212' -979 m

Descent

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

63%

Max Grade (32°)

13,356' 4,071 m

High

10,142' 3,091 m

Low

Shared By Tom Robson

Conditions


All Clear 87 days ago
Mostly Dry History

Getting forecast...

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

Tom Robson

Dogs Leashed

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

Overview

This route has it all - woods, meadows, waterfalls, views, wildflowers, and marmots. This is a classic run 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 run) 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 will 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 run or hitch a ride to the trailhead. You can also reach the Hessie Trailhead via shuttle from the RTD parking lot in Nederland.

Runner Notes

This is a great trail run, especially if you're looking to ascend some easy, low-grade trail. Perfect for those training for Colorado trail races.

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. 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!

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Check-Ins

Jun 21, 2018
Nathan Rilla
Fun but super wet right now! Lots of people btw. 8.6mi
Aug 19, 2017
Finlay Wood
Great conditions on the trail today. 8.3mi
Jul 9, 2017
Jen McMurtrey

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  4.9 from 32 votes

#73

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  4.9 from 32 votes
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#73

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