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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Ice Lake Basin, CO

no permit
430 16 0
Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
4.9 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,877 feet
Elevation Gain 2,431 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,487 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 16.14
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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39  2018-07-20 Stoic
21  2017-09-03
Clear Lake
49  2017-09-02
Ice Lake Island Lake V2
21  2017-09-01 OdinWiski
61  2017-07-27
Grant - Swamp Pass
10  2016-10-09 arizona_water
10  2016-08-18
Golden Horn Summit Trail
22  2016-07-03 chumley
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Sun  5:55am - 6:15pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
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Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!

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This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    More snow than I expected, but still an amazing place to visit. I love alpine lakes. The trail was completely passable, even with mud in the lower elevations and snow up high.
    We saw three other people - not bad for a holiday weekend. But it was snowing, raining, and hailing most of the hike. In more favorable weather conditions, I would've pushed the group up to island lake. Next time!
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    On the third day of our trip we headed up to Silverton and over to Ice Lake Basin. Claire originally found this hike and the pics were jaw dropping! We talked about backpacking here but ultimately chose to day hike on a very busy Sunday.

    The dirt road to the trailhead is in very good condition but was jam packed with cars & campers. I swear people were camped in every flat spot on this busy fourth of July weekend. We got lucky and found a relatively close parking spot and started hiking soon after. The hike starts around 9,800 ft and you can feel the thin air as you climb. The nice thing is this hike has wonderful views and lots of water to keep things fun. We hit Clear Creek less than a mile in. I opted for crossing some logs while Chumley and Claire climbed up a bit and crossed a wooden plank. From there we kept on climbing and climbing. The trail is in great condition but is steep as you gain elevation.

    After a couple of miles we arrived in Lower Ice Lake Basin and reached the wet crossing. I walked up and down looking for a dry spot to cross but there wasn’t one. Claire & I took off our shoes and walked across the creek. The water was cold and moving fast. Once on the other side we dried our feet and continued hiking up the trail. Chumley jumped across the creek and only got his feet a little wet. The final climb to Ice Lake Basin took longer than expected but we eventually arrived.

    The Ice Lake Basin area sits at over 12K ft and is truly spectacular! Ice Lake is a deep blue surrounded by peaks covered in patches of snow. It’s another world up here! We took a variety of pics and then continued the climb up to Fuller Lake which sits at just over 12,500 ft. The thin air & elevation were taking a toll on me. I was still recovering from a sinus infection and felt really crummy at elevation. After getting our fill Claire & I started the descent while Chumley went over to Island Lake.

    On the way down Claire & I both removed our shoes for the wet crossing and continued down. About half way down some clouds moved in and it started to rain and then hail. We put our rain gear on and continued down. The good thing is our footing was relatively stable on the steep descent. We kept at it and the weather finally cleared and Chumley caught up to us. From there we flew down the final mile and were back to the trailhead around mid-afternoon.

    The Ice Lake Basin is a spectacular area and I’m really glad we made the day trip there. There were a lot of people on a busy holiday weekend but I didn’t mind. Everyone was spaced out and were very friendly. I’d like to return another time and backpack and try for some of the peaks surrounding the lake. I highly recommend this hike it’s well worth the time and effort!
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was a fantastic holiday weekend hike! I can't believe we had this entire amazing area to ourselves! The peaceful serenity of high-elevation lakes in the heart of the San Juan's simply can't be matched! :y:

    Thoughts: This trail is not for the faint of heart. There are no gentle switchbacks here. It's just relentlessly steep. Had this been in greater Phoenix, there'd be people dropping like flies and calls for hiking bans. But the rewards are soooooo worth it! :D

    I forgot my water, but somehow managed the entire day without it, opting for a couple half liter sips from the creek. Lower Ice Lake Basin is an impossibly green valley where the nearly deafening sound of numerous waterfalls echoes all around. Up top in Ice Lake Basin, the snow was plentiful, and Ice Lake was the only one that was half-thawed. The hike up to Fuller was great. Island Lake itself was less scenic, but the trip over to it provided some amazing views.

    I would love to come back here and spend a couple of days exploring. The peaks around the basin, all over 13,700 feet, can be summited with relative ease and might make for some worthwhile day hikes.

    I bombed the trip down in just over an hour, trying to catch up to Claire and 9L who got a good head start. Along the way, I got pelted with hail for about half an hour. Pretty typical for the mountains. Thankfully it was just hail, not accompanied by any lightning!
    Ice Lake Basin
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This one has been on my todo list since I heard about it last summer. Get an early start to avoid the crowds. We started around 7AM and had the entire upper basin to ourselves.

    The elevation gain begins gradually but gets steeper as you ascend, with the exception of the walk across lower ice lake basin. Along the way there are a few creek crossings that may require you to get your feet a little wet.

    Below the upper basin there was almost no snow we had to deal with and the area looked extremely lush and green for what I expected to see in late June. In the basin it was still somewhat packed in with snow, and the lake was frozen over. We contemplated going to Island Lake but decided against it because it was most likely also frozen over. I would like to get back here later in the summer to see what the lakes look like when they are not frozen.
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Part two of our little Colorado trip.
    We backpacked up in the rain and once we got to our campsite, the storms stayed away for the rest of the trip. The main trail sees a good bit of dayhike traffic but our camp was secluded and people just looked like faraway ants if you squinted right.
    Love this place.
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Part two of our Colorado backpack trip.
    It started raining when we pulled into the lower trailhead parking lot and all the day hikers started flooding down with it. That was only day we saw rain. I got to see and camp at one of Michael's favorite camping spots.
    Day 2 we hunted for wildflowers and did the upper lakes.
    Day 3 we relaxed and goofed around the basin near camp.
    Day 4 we headed out in the morning and took our time getting back to Phoenix.
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I led 15 members of my Higher Ground 4x4 group to Colorado from Saturday to Saturday, camping in a different spot almost every night. Since I was the plan man, I split the trip 50/50 between tires and shoes. That whittled down the participants on the hiking days to a solid 6 who weren't afraid to venture out from behind their windshields and sack up, their gear, on their shoulders. Day 3 (Monday) had us finishing the Alpine Loop with Animas Forks around 3pm and straight after the hikers set out towards South Mineral Creek and Ice Lakes Basin. We drove up the Clear Lake road to the upper trailhead and began our journey.

    We got our feet wet almost immediately in the large unavoidable waterfall which broke the ice for us for the other stream crossings. We made pretty decent time up, all the while watching the sky darken with storms. The lower basin was absolutely beautiful even in the graying light. The chest high plants encroached around us as the foot path became more defined with no where else to go. I spotted our camp spot and we worked on finding a path that would lead us in that direction without us making any new footprints, damaging the flora.

    We arrived at the best camp spot in the world I've ever had the privilege of staying at just as it began to sprinkle. Camp was directly below a double waterfall, right on the creek, nestled in the trees, with a vantageful view of the entire basin spread out before us. We set everything up, getting our gear out of the rain, but just standing under one of the large trees did the trick of keeping you dry. We did manage a fire but we had to stay with it to keep it burning the wet wood in the high altitude (fun trick we learned on Imogene, use one of those battery powered air mattress blower uppers. Point it at the fire and enjoy the extra oxygen)

    We woke in the morning and day packed to the upper lakes. It only took about 30 minutes to get topside as Ice Lake came into view. We goofed around for a bit and found an awesome flower patch much better than those in American Basin. It stayed pretty overcast so I took the chance of heading up to Island Lake just in case it cleared. The others began after me but I managed to get to the Lake just as the sun came out for a short stint. Once the three others came up, the clouds had returned and we laid out for a bit and ate lunches. My sister noticing the marmots all of sudden getting their curious on tried to convince her husband if you stood arms outstretched, they would come give you a hug. Oddly enough, it kind of worked and he freaked out when they reached his 5ft out safety circle. Dana, the braver of the two, decided she'd get down on their level and shared part of her lunch with one.

    We packed back up when it began hailing and howling and hiked down to join the rest of our group back at Ice Lake. The precipitation let up but not before those who weren't rain proof, got soaked through. They had had enough and returned to camp but I again chanced it. 10 minutes later I had all the sunlight I could ever want. It was funny how one minute you needed your fleece and softshell and then the next you just wanted your t-shirt. I goofed around more and explored some other spots before coming down to camp. Shortly after, we got some more rain and a nice rainbow out in the basin.

    Another marmot incident happened that night at camp as one began fussing at Jared from under a tree next to a tent. All of a sudden I heard Chris girly giggle profusely and saw him run away from the other side of the tree shouting "I touched his butt!" Many jokes ensued including him being deemed The Puppeteer and a similar one that revolved around him earlier on the trail actually finding a tube of o-ring lube. So there's that.

    Anyway...We woke the next morning in a cloud. Shortly after it burned off we began our hike down to the waiting Jeeps so we could begin Black Bear to Imogene.

    I'll add tracks and times later.
    Ice Lake Basin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My hike this day began at the lower Mineral Creek area parking and TH Start and ended 3.8 miles up having had the delight of viewing scenic Ice Lake at 12,257feet. I ended my hike in at .75ml further, off trail at high altitude and large (several acres worth) Fuller Lake at 12,585ft.

    Access via the Ice Lakes Trail, the main "upper" Ice Lakes Basin lies above 12,000ft and is one of the most interesting and scenic high-altitude basins in the San Juans. This whole basin is surrounded by sharp and colorful peaks all well above 13,000 feet. Due to these surrounding high peaks, once arriving in the upper basin area you cannot see out except to the east through South Mineral Creek Valley. There are also many beautiful wildflowers on this route along with small tundra flowers in the basin itself :DANCE:

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    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Mar 10 2010 12:00 am
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