The Ideal Day Trip: St. Mary's Via Idaho Springs, CO

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Boulder, CO, Oct. 4, 2000--If the dusting of snow that's visited some mountain communities gets you itching for the slopes, head to this small Rocky Mountain town for a day amidst beautiful fall foliage and even get in a few turns on a glacier while you're at it.

Idaho Springs, about 45 minutes west of Denver, makes an ideal spot to begin or end a day in the mountains. Stop in the 2 Brothers Deli at 1424 Miner Street in the historic downtown. Fuel your body with a breakfast wrap, grab a bite for later, such as a Smoked Salmon Salad Sandwich, or finish the day with a Paupers Pizza layered on a fresh baguette.

A short drive from Idaho Springs to St. Mary's Alice off exit 238 will take you through autumn's alpine beauty. Fifteen minutes from the exit you'll find parking on the right and St. Mary's Glacier trailhead across the road.

Sling your skis over your back and start the 3/4-mile hike to the glacier. The glacier is at its smallest stage of the season, so runoff throughout the summer has weakened it greatly. It's suggested to hike on the rocks beside the glacier, not on the snow, and to ski only the upper-right section. A foot-wide hole at the glacier's bottom gives a glimpse into a vast cavern dropping 15 feet under the thin surface. Take heed as careless adventure-seekers could perilously fall through.

The scenic area around the glacier holds numerous hiking possibilities. If you're looking for a little more adventure, try climbing James Peak, a high 13er only 3 miles from the glacier. Either route you choose, picturesque spots abound to take in the scenery and enjoy a tasty lunch.