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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 Trail #505, CO

no permit
466 18 0
Guide 18 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
4.8 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.39 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,841 feet
Elevation Gain 2,431 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,555 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.17
Interest Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
7  2018-09-08 jtaylor
39  2018-07-20
Ice Lake Basin
21  2017-09-03
Clear Lake
49  2017-09-02
Ice Lake Island Lake V2
21  2017-09-01
Ice Lake Basin
61  2017-07-27
Grant - Swamp Pass
19  2017-06-08 Stoic
10  2016-10-09
Ice Lake Basin
Page 1,  2
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 667
Photos 13,162
Trips 1,416 map ( 10,534 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  5:54am - 6:18pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Robert van Winkle approved
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
This trail leads to Ice Lake Basin, one of the most beautiful high-alpine landscapes you will ever experience.

While this trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, it is a very steep 4 miles, gaining nearly 2,500 feet and topping out at over 12,000 feet in elevation. Mountain weather is unpredictable and dangerous storms may develop quickly at any time of year.

The hike begins at the marked trailhead and sign-in box on the north side of the South Mineral Campground at the end of Forest Road 585. The trail climbs steadily for the first half mile where it reaches the crossing of Clear Creek, a short distance below a scenic waterfall. Depending on the water level, crossing the creek here may be difficult to do without getting your feet wet. Once across the trail takes a short detour through an open meadow before ascending several switchbacks and ending up at the top of the waterfall on Clear Creek at the 1 mile mark. The trail switch backs away from the creek again, but most will take the short spur in the wrong direction to see the falls before continuing upward.

The next 0.75 mile climbs steadily while traversing a large open slope with views above. Don't be fooled. What you see isn't nearly the top! The rushing creek to the left of the trail as you climb is the flow that drains all the lakes above you. A couple of short spur trails lead to viewpoints and several cascades and waterfalls along the creek.

At mile 1.75 the trail turns into the trees and climbs steeply, rounding a ridge and steadily switchbacking until reaching the start of Lower Ice Lake Basin at about 2.4 miles.

The next 0.6 miles is a relatively flat trek across the incredibly scenic Lower Ice Lake Basin. A lake sits somewhat below you to the left, while several waterfalls drain from around the basin. Up ahead you see a large cascade tumbling down from above, and the majestic Golden Horn and other peaks above Ice Lake Basin dominate the view. It is here that many choose to set up camp, as there are still pockets of trees.

At the 3 mile mark, you will have to cross the stream that drains from Ice Lake above. Once again, the ease of crossing will depend on the amount of water draining from lake. It is entirely possible that a dry crossing here will be impossible. Some will choose to hop through and continue on with wet boots, while others will choose to remove their boots and make the chilly crossing in bare feet.

Once across, the trail climbs steadily, again with waterfalls on the left. It's about .75 miles and 750 feet of additional gain before the trail crests the hill and enters Ice Lake Basin. From here it's a short quarter mile to the shores of the impossibly blue Ice Lake.

Once reaching the lake, you can return the 4 miles back to the trailhead (as the stats on this page describe), or explore more of Ice Lake Basin:
A trip south to Fuller Lake will add about 2 miles round trip and gain over 300 additional feet.
A trip northeast to Island Lake will add a little over a mile round trip and gain about 150 feet very steeply.
Several of the peaks that rise above Ice Lake Basin can be climbed by ambitious hikers. Fuller, Vermilion, Golden Horn, Pilot Knob, and Ulysses S. Grant all rise to above 13,700 feet.

Camping is permitted and several undeveloped sites are available in the wooded areas of Lower Ice Lake Basin. Please remember to camp at least 100 feet from any lake or stream.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2016-07-11 chumley
    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 Trail #505
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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 Trail #505
    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 Trail #505
    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 Trail #505
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We wasted no time taking on an arduous hike on our first full day in Colorado. At 7.5 miles and almost 2300' elevation gain it was a breathless welcome to 12,000 feet!

    With the plan to check out Black Bear Pass yet today we decided to start from the upper trail head, saving maybe .25 mi and 200' of elevation gain. As it was, we had plenty elevation gain on the hike.

    Starting from the upper TH we passed across the bottom of a waterfall before connecting with the path from the lower TH. There was no sign at the junction so people can (and did) inadvertently continue toward the upper TH instead of the sharp left turn to stay on the trail. A few people saved themselves the trouble by asking us if they were on the Ice Lake Trail when in fact they were headed the wrong way. Later when we chatted with some locals they said there used to be a sign and didn't realize it was not still there. (Apparently the two gals were chatting so much they didn't notice it missing.)

    Onward and upward we climbed. We came through a wide area where it was obvious some very heavy runoff had taken place not long ago. Later in the hike we met a guy who said it had happened within the last few days because it wasn't that way when he was here 4 days before.

    Every time we thought Ice Lake was just over the hill we'd make it over the rise and find another hill to climb. But no matter, the scenery was fabulous in all directions. The only thing that dampened the mood a bit was the sky, more overcast than clear, and eventually we got sprinkled on a few times. But at least no thunderstorms!

    Once we made it to Ice Lake I hesitated to mention to Tracey I'd like to continue on to Fuller Lake because I was afraid she'd say no more. But since we were this far, what's another mile round-trip? In the end it was well worth it. We met a guy who had camped overnight at Fuller Lake and was busy frying up a few trout he had caught in the lake.

    Ok, now for the return trek. A few more sprinkles and some very close to showers to follow us on our way but again nothing heavy.

    With over 900 photos and 40+ videos it will be a while before I get caught up. I'll post the best of the photos here on HAZ but the full set of 81 photos is here:

    Video is posted here:
    Ice Lake Trail #505
    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:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Silverton, head west/north on US-550 for 2.2 miles.
    Turn left onto the Forest Road 585. Follow this dirt road 4.4 miles to the parking area and trailhead adjacent to South Mineral Campground.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Jul 11 2016 8:49 pm
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