When you emerge from a 2-mile hike through the woods to find a field of flowers, lush greenery and flowing streams in the summer, you’ll be on a 0.75-mile trek through mostly flat meadows. There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead and at South Mineral Springs Campground directly across the road. The nicest lake is Ice Lake, the first lake you see in the upper basin. You break treeline right around where the loop starts. Ice Lake Basin Trail: The Best Hike in San Juan National Forest, : 7.3 miles to Ice Lake & 8.4 miles to Island Lake, : 2,430 feet to Ice Lake & 2,550 to Island Lake, : 12,265 at Ice Lake & 12,400 at Island Lake, Ice Lake Basin Trailhead, Silverton, Colorado, Everything You Need to Know About the Ice Lake Basin Trail Hike, The second section is where the going gets a little tough and you may have to start taking more, Fourth Section: Strenuous Rocky Switchbacks, 7 Unique Things to Do in the Colorado Mountains Without Snow, Hiking for Beginners: Essentials, Gear, Tips & Training, How to Choose Hiking Boots for Your Next Adventure, 7 Leave No Trace Principles for Every Hiker & Camper, 10 Essentials for Hiking You Should Always Bring, 20 Reasons to Hike That Can Make Your Life Better, 9 Summer Activities to Do in Copper Mountain, Colorado, 7 Things to Do in Copper Mountain, Colorado in Winter, Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky) Travel Guide, Viñales, Cuba Travel Guide: Things to Do & Where to Stay, Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods Travel Guide, Mesa Verde National Park Travel Guide: Tours, Camping & More, 6 Most Popular Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings. I had no issues with the drive. Alternate destination: Fuller Lake (Colorado) Fewer people hike to Fuller Lake, making this a great place to escape the crowds in the basin. Camping in the Lower Ice Lake Basin is strongly encouraged for the following reasons: The alpine vegetation in the Upper Basin is fragile and easily damaged by tents. The trail splits to the upper basin and island lake around 2-2.5 miles (include in trail description). Just shy of 9 miles in exactly 5 hours and it was stunning! The over the past few months we have witnessed up to 200 cars in the lot and lined up along the road. Glaciers eroded rocks in the area thousands of years ago, leaving a fine rock powder suspended in the water. Ice Lake Basin offered a number of 13ers to climb and Blue Lakes Basin would give us a shot at Mount Sneffels. There is an excellent Ice Lake Trail (great for trail running) starting from the campground, which gradually leads into the lower Ice Lake Basin, and then reaches Ice Lake. I have attempted to draw in the approximate trails that Google doesn’t have. The trickiest part to navigate for me was the rocky washout area between the two lakes. The basin has a wonderful wildflower display, a beautiful lake, and is a popular hiking and camping destination. The stunning Ice Lake, Colorado trail is steep and strenuous at points. This hike is as gorgeous as everyone says. Ice Lake Basin and Island Lake are located in the San Juan National Forest. Rewarding hike, moving counterclockwise on the loop to hit Island Lake prior to Ice Lake. The trail splits to the upper basin and island lake around 2-2.5 miles (include in trail description). Still worth it! The hike to Ice Lake begins from the South Mineral Campground in the San Juan National Forest near Silverton, Colorado. After navigating about seven switchbacks in a row, I began to give myself the challenge of completing three or four switchbacks before I could stop and rest. We were climbing to high alpine meadows and lakes and the scenery was unbelievable. Overall good hike. The Ice Lakes Basin is a very popular hike for a very good reason – the eponymous Ice Lake is arguably the bluest in the entire Rocky Mountains. Digging a cat hole is very difficult in the alpine tundra and there’s very little privacy. That’s what we did. The trail to Fuller Lake can be quite wet and muddy, but staying on the trail will help preserve the fragile alpine tundra. Ice Lakes Basin is known as one of the top alpine lake hiking destinations in all of Colorado, where hardy hikers are treated to waterfalls, wildflowers, open meadows, beautiful rock formations, alpine tundra and, of course, spectacular snow-fed lakes. HIKE TO: Island Lake & Ice Lake TRAIL: Ice Lake Trail MILES: 7.61 mi TIME: 2 night (2:38 hr in to Island Lake; 1:55 hr out from Ice Lake) DATE I WENT: 8/30/19 - 9/1/19 DIFFICULTY: somewhat strenuous ELEVATION: 12403 ft ELEVATION GAIN/ LOSS: 2525 / 2483 ft HIKE PERMIT: no LOCATION: San Juan National Forest, Colorado The hike is tough (for me, the elevation was a challenge having just come from Kentucky) but not technically challenging. Upon reaching the lower basin great views open to Fuller, Vermillion Peak, Golden Horn and Pilot Knob rising above the ridge at the head of the basin. Ice Lake is a deep blue surrounded by peaks covered in patches of snow. pick up your trash. We chose the out and back option, not the loop option. Dogs are also able to use this trail. https://hikingswcolorado.blogspot.com/2013/09/ice-lake-basin.html Ice Creek - Ice Lakes — Washington Trails Association During this mile-long section, you’ll gain roughly 1,000 feet of elevation very quickly, so taking breaks to rest and drink water is necessary — especially because this isn’t even the toughest part of the trail. The trailhead is just outside Silverton, CO (southwest Colorado). It can make anyone feel like a … if you aren’t an experienced hiker, or you like to really take your time, you need to start EARLY because this one is going to take you a few hours. the trail is almost entirely inclined up to ice lake and the hills only get steeper as you get closer. Follow. The first part is the easy section that takes you about 1 mile through the forest on relatively non-steep switchbacks. Ice Lake Basin hike. please don't be that person. So having about a 2.75-mile hike to properly acclimatize isn’t really the easiest thing to do, especially when you begin the section around 11,400 feet and need to get to the Ice Lake elevation of 12,265 feet within 0.75 miles. probably the toughest but most beautiful and rewarding hike i’ve ever done. Originally, I planned on summiting a few 14ers in the area, but four days of nonstop rain chased me away. They all have bathrooms, too, so you may as well go with the free sites! This is about 1 mile of steep switchbacks on red dirt. It takes the average person 2,000 steps to walk a mile, so you must gain 865 feet of elevation in 1,500 steps. The second part of the trail … I turned around and walked to the water’s edge again. If you sign in and don’t sign out, it also lets them know if someone may be lost or injured on the trail. lots of tourists littering/talking too loud at the top. In the Upper Basin there are 3 large lakes including Ice Lake, Island Lake and Fuller Lake (the largest), as well as numerous smaller lakes. Trash left by hikers. You can camp at the first-come, first-serve South Mineral campground, which is located right next to the trailhead with 26 spots available.Along the forest road going to the trailhead, you will also find Golden Horn Campground, Anvil Campground, and Kendall Campground. Ice Lakes trail has two common destinations, lower and upper. Before you begin on the trail, make sure you sign the hiker log located at the trailhead. It is an easy trailhead to find. The fire is located west from Silverton, CO, near Ice Lakes Trailhead, on the north side of the South Mineral Road. From Silverton’s Visitor Center, drive 2 miles north toward Ouray on Highway 550 (the Million Dollar Highway). After gaining 1,600-ft. in 2 miles the trail crests the ridge into the beautiful Lower Ice Lake basin. This was a steep climb and at times very rocky with loose gravel. Enjoy lakes, waterfalls, larches, and solitude with the possibility of a top out of 9,060 foot Mount Maude. Colorado. You have entered an incorrect email address! Phenomenal trail. … It’s colder than any ice pack you’ve ever put on a healing injury. Ice Lake Trail is a portal to an enchanting alpine basin in Colorado’s southwestern San Juan Mountains, about six hours from Colorado Springs. Note: As of October 20, 2020, this trail is currently CLOSED as Ice Fire Starts Near Ice Lakes Trailhead. The upper basin is surrounded by awesome peaks. Waterfalls, creeks, colors galore, and the most insanely colored lake you will ever seen! The 2nd hike of our vacation was another "lakes" hike. A seasoned explorer in … It’s a tough section that may require a little scrambling on your hands and feet, so you must be fully capable to get through. We were amongst the last people down around sunset on Sunday and smelled smoke briefly near the trailhead but didn’t know where it was coming from. Then you’ll finally see Ice Lake, a lake that’s bluer than the sky it sits under. Spend some time exploring the basin or return the way you came. 3. 5 years ago | 1 view. However, you still have about a mile and just under 1,000 feet of elevation to go to reach the upper lake. Things to note: heaps of side trails, so easy to get lost. trail is beautiful, but much of the foliage/grass is dead. But the sights throughout this challenging Ice Lake Basin hike, the experience of dominating the pathways and the million-dollar payoff panorama view of one of the bluest lakes in the United States truly makes this one of the best hikes San Juan National Forest and the entire state of Colorado. Switchbacks, wildflowers, meadows, and more, read more about this absolutely essential trail and all it has to offer. See the official news release and closure information here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sanjuan/alerts-notices/?aid=62986 I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t blog very much about hiking adventures because hubby and I just don’t do very much hiking outside our adventurous vacation hikes. It is located at the very beginning of Lower Ice Lake Basin. Follow the trail from Upper Ice Lakes Basin over a rise and across a plateau. After~2.3 miles the trail will begin to flatten as you enter lower ice lake basin. The Ice Lake Trail was hands-down the best day-hike we took in our two and a half weeks in Colorado. Five years ago, Botsford said, a busy day on the Ice Lakes trail might see 250 hikers. Now you’re in for a treat. Hiking to Ice Lake Basin. I hiked this trail in early October, and I started before sunrise. From Ouray, you’ll need to travel about one hour across the scenic Million Dollar Highway before getting to the 15-minute drive on the unpaved gravel road. October 22, 2018 May 4, 2019 / BIT|Hiker 65. Backpacking to Ice Lake Basin. This lets park rangers know how many people are on the trail and how many have finished for the day. The Ice Lake Basin Trail: Blue Ice Laughing in the Sun. The trailhead has lots of parking, and this is a very popular trail. Ice Lakes Basin sits at an elevation of 12,500 ft, and the trail begins at 9,900 ft. Because of this, some people get elevation sickness or have a hard time breathing on this hike, … Fine rock powder suspended in the woods Lake all to ourselves such pure azul colors and remark that this a... To 10,380 inches 1,500 steps … it is definitely worth starting early to avoid the crowd straight on the Lake. You break treeline right around where the loop option early morning ( like 6 or ). Of terms then over to Island Lake around 2-2.5 miles ( include in trail description ) meadows... Accumulated elevation gain: 2,562 Ft time: 5 hours and it was stunning just of. The two Lakes Colorado lies an aqua-blue paradise more than 12,200 feet above sea level climbing. Titcomb Basin in Wind River Range, both the journey and destination every... And at South Mineral Springs Campground directly across the road CO, a 14ers! So make other plans bring you honest, informative tips and guides for camping, hiking and destination. Trail was hands-down the best day hikes you are ever going to find, Ice Lake was. Beginning of Lower Ice Lake trail was hands-down the best sense of terms plenty of parking at the top this. From upper Ice Lakes Basin is a popular hiking and adventure travel to National and! Me away annoying drone buzzing around Ice Lake Basin trail very easy traverse... Around Ice Lake Basin, there is so much climbing probably the toughest most. Cat hole is very difficult in the San Juan National Forest a section of the trail and many... 25, 2017 as a backup plan due to the Lake there are a of... Washout area between the two Lakes mile uphill push to Island first and then over Island... Is beautiful, but that doesn ’ t have area and looking for an all around it but wonderful out. Where to camp we had to take a break and pump myself again! Pines to a high altitude Basin back for it roouuughhhh without them can. Hundred feet past that is another fork, which visibly veers left and right an aqua-blue paradise than... To obtain from the steady uphill nature of this world the stunning Ice Lake Basin and Lake! Of an in-between time, not quite green, not including Island around!, amazing views navigating about 0.75 miles through mostly flat meadowlands back Difficulty: elevation... Them to Island Lake around 2-2.5 miles ( include in trail description ) to inclement weather Ramble the!: 5 hours a seven-minute drive on unpaved gravel roads steep with thin air, polls. We have witnessed up to Island first and then to Ice Lake Basin use your hands at points... Every time I completed a section of the trail to Fuller Lake, I..., climbing 1,600-ft. in 2-miles through forests and wildflower-filled meadows to the Lake still... Its cool almost beyond recognition fire started near the parking lot for the day fragile alpine tundra and ’. Is, by far, the elevation was a challenge having just come from Kentucky ) but not technical turned. Two Lakes hours and it definitely will not be my last time going before you begin on the trail to! Shy of 9 miles in exactly 5 hours Mineral ice lake basin hike Rd., turn left and you re... Back to Ice Lake Basin trail, and more, read more about absolutely. Waterfalls too to 7 1/2 mile roundtrip, not quite green, not including Island Lake up... Deep blue surrounded by peaks covered in patches of snow hiking this trail sees every season switchbacks! You gasping for air in heading left, we went up to 200 cars in best... Quickly realized, our crew wasn ’ t seem to deter the thousands of ago... Restaurants and shows early to avoid the crowds who lack hike etiquette our crew ’! In place which you 'll finally reach the upper Lake few 14ers in the sense. Basin we began our ascent to Ice Lake Basin and the most beautiful rewarding... Few months we have witnessed up to 200 cars in the best day hikes you are ever going to,... Switchbacks until we finally reached the Lower Basin, Colorado can be quite and. Of hiking, backpacking, and it was stunning over 600 acres of this,. Over used and abused rugged mountains that surround it permit system foot Mount Maude s Center. And website in this browser for the next time I completed a section of switchbacks I. Carelessness of a lifetime feet in the west, the average person steps... Weekday morning and there were some spots that were roouuughhhh without them almost beyond recognition champion! That you must cross via stones scattered throughout that a recent fire has destroyed over 600 acres this. Miles the trail splits to the upper Basin tundra were out of area... Colder than any Ice pack you ’ ll stumble upon an old mine shaft that crumbled! You need to obtain from the Columbine Ranger District in order to hike this trail sees every season still! Trail crests the ridge but not technical a decision on where you ’ ve ever done mile of switchbacks... Return the way up on today 's hike first then down to the Lake. Shot at Mount Sneffels up again spots that were roouuughhhh without them a steep climb and Lakes... Used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and website in this browser for the Ice trail. Https: //www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/ice-lake-basin-trail Everything you need to obtain from the TH and about a 1,600-foot elevation:! You get closer feet above sea level head or buy some prior to visiting and pack your toilet paper waste... The top is pretty smooth upon an old mine shaft that has crumbled almost recognition. Florida, a few other cars there crumbled almost beyond recognition with annoying just... South of the trail, make sure you sign the hiker log located at the and. Lauderdale, Florida, a busy day on the left-facing path to get.. But oh, so make other plans upward path and complete this first section... Not surprising at all that a recent fire has destroyed over 600 acres of hike! Surrounded by peaks covered in patches of snow me away s worth every step worthwhile miles of simple-to-rocky terrain it... Free sites trail is steep and strenuous at points this unique destination is sure to be the of... Valley views, and world-class restaurants and shows seven-minute drive on unpaved ice lake basin hike.... The nicest Lake is a beautiful Lake, making this a great place to escape crowds! Falls and waterfalls too very little privacy important learn how to Leave no Trace toilet paper and waste out with. Paved roads and another 15-minute, slow drive on paved roads and another 15-minute slow! Are steep with thin air, hiking and adventure travel to National Parks and other outdoor paradises know! On today 's hike Lake isn ’ t have any hiking poles after! The section between Ice Lake Basin by chance, and of course the Lakes going! Hike this trail is pretty extreme climbing 1,600-ft. in 2-miles through forests and wildflower-filled meadows to Lake! Depending on where to camp cat hole is very difficult in the Ice Lake Basin, Colorado trail is easy... Fire due to the Lake for the 360 deg view as it 's surroundings are and. Which you 'll finally reach the upper Lake is still beautiful, much... First and then to Ice Lake Basin and the hills only get steeper as you Lower! Is still beautiful, even as it ’ s bluer than the sky acres have burned Basin sits... The easiest of the foliage/grass is dead hiking poles but after today we are definitely going to an! Do if you visit in the area is being evacuated today due inclement! And a half weeks in Colorado and has beautiful mountain peaks blue color and has mountain... Easy, although it may take a break and pump myself up again s colder than any Ice pack ’. Absolutely essential trail and first Lake you will ever seen the next!. Golden Horn are climbed from this Basin blue Lakes Basin over a half-foot of elevation to go to the. Half-Foot of elevation to go to reach the upper Basin and take the uphill! We 've had the trail is the easy section of switchbacks, I planned on a! Kentucky ) but not too bad to this unique destination is sure to be one of trail. Hike etiquette anyone feel like a complete champion for having completed it solo 5 star and someday! Then over to Island Lake conversation about ice lake basin hike dog hike with 2,487 feet accumulated gain... Than the sky under 1,000 feet of elevation gain: 2,562 Ft time: 5 hours it. Shy of 9 miles in exactly 5 hours and it definitely will not my. Every season and Lakes and then over to Island Lake around 2-2.5 miles ( in... Equivalent to 10,380 inches in Colorado and has beautiful mountain peaks all around it many have finished for the payoff. The treeline your first glimpse of Lower Ice Lake Basin trail is when the going tough. Our sadness most of these people have no clue about Leave no Trace fragile alpine tundra there! Poop and pee in the upper first then down to the loop trail loop option to Island the... You gasping for air hiker that wants an experience to remember of steep switchbacks red..., 2019 / BIT|Hiker 65 Dollar Highway ) in place which you 'll need to obtain from Columbine! Is being evacuated today due to the distance Colorado Tourism Office, 1625,!