James Peak Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
4.5-6.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
12.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
899 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
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Directions to Trailhead

Bask in beautiful scenery along the entirety of the James Peak Hike. This demanding trail will guide its conquerors through subalpine woodlands, through alpine tundras and up a glacier all before culminating at the summit. This trail is no-joke, but the views from the summit are well worth the effort.

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Route Description for James Peak Hike

The James Peak Hike is a crowd-favorite trail in the James Peak Wilderness, and rightfully so. Hike this trail in the early morning to avoid the inevitable crowds this excursion draws. Furthermore, arriving early mitigates the possibility of getting caught in an afternoon storm at the summit. Though this trail is extremely popular, route signage is poor. Make sure to have the trail GPS handy to help you navigate the tricky terrain to the summit. If you are hiking in the autumn or winter, we recommend wearing microspikes to help navigate the snowy terrain at the peak. As always, layers are good insurance against inclement and windy weather at high altitudes. Note that to park at the trailhead, visitors are required to purchase a pass that typically costs around $5USD.

Begin your adventure at the James Peak Trailhead. Track along Saint Mary’s Drive. The trail will shortly merge onto the Saint Mary’s Street Trail. Hike the forested path up to Saint Mary’s Lake. Enjoy the shimmering alpine lake and continue up the path. The trail will curve northwest and route markers will become more sparse. Hike up Saint Mary’s Glacier and then take the Kingston Peak Spur Trail at the top. This section of the trail is steep and exposed, so mind your footing and use the trail GPS to avoid any false peaks. Hike up the path until you meet a cluttered intersection. Stay northwest and hook onto the James Peak South Trail.

Trek the technical terrain as you ascend towards James Peak. Notice Stewart Lake and Loch Lomond Lake in the south. Hike past the garden of lakes and navigate tightly wound switchbacks up the ridge of James Peak. Scramble up the steep rocky scree and summit James Peak. Appreciate the grandeur of the peak as you tower over the subalpine wilderness below. Enjoy the 360-degree views of encompassing peaks and the mountainous landscape that shapes the horizon. Catch your breath and hydrate before retracing your steps down the route all the way back to the parking lot.

Getting to the James Peak Hike Trailhead

Located in the James Peak Wilderness, the James Peak Trailhead is off of the Fall River Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Dispersed backcountry camping, see rules.

  • When to do

    June-October

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    Extreme

  • Route Type

    Out and back

James Peak Hike Elevation Graph

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