Ice Lake Basin

#1 of 161 trails in San Juan National Forest

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Ice Lakes trail has two common destinations, lower and upper. The upper basin is surrounded by awesome peaks. Vermillion, Fuller, Pilot knob and Golden Horn are climbed from this basin. Amazing blue/green lakes, late season wildflowers, moderately strenuous hike to creekfalls and waterfalls too.

Share your experience to help other people learn more about this trail:

Write ReviewUpload PhotosUpload Tracks

Natalie Bessios (118)

3 Completed1 Reviews

Beautiful Hike! Hiked on Sept 2nd....Thoroughly enjoyed everything about this trail. The meadow has pretty flowers and the colors are starting to change. The day was bright and sunny which made ice lake turquoise and azure blue. I am hoping to get up there again in the next week or so and taking in the other lakes up top.

Sam Roy (175)

23 Completed1 Reviews

Best hike I've ever been on. You're really missing out if you don't do a loop through to Island Lake as well. We made this a two day one night backpacking trip. There are lots of spots to set up camp in the lower ice lake basin area if you're not looking to camp above tree-line by the lakes. We got to the lower lakes basin where you meet the sign directing you towards Island Lake to the right or Ice Lake to the left. We started towards Island lake and after about 500 feet just before a large boulder, turned right up a hill and found a site equipped with a fire circle and 360 view of the valley! We dropped our bags here and then headed towards Island Lake. This lake took our breath away and luckily we ran into a sole hiker who instructed us beyond the lake on a path towards Ice Lake. We had been planning to descend and re-ascend to ice lake. This saved us a tremendous amount of time and energy and we were able to loop past ice lake, down to lower ice lake, and then return to the path to descend to our campsite a different way! Having descended down the ice lake trail we realized ascending the island lake trail was much less treacherous!! It seemed everything fell into place for us just by fate. What a weekend!

BRIAN COLLINS (129)

4 Completed4 Reviews

Did the hike on august 17th 2014 with my wife and Saint Bernard! (Two diff people for all you funny people)...this was a long hike up due to elevation change and climb, but honestly the best hike I have ever been on! Amazing views and surreal beauty when you reach the top!!! We will be going prob a couple time a year now... We have two kids ages 6&4 and feel it's too much for them... I would say age 8 and up! Couple of places you need to pay attention to, and would be very difficult trying to carry child through them! Enjoy your hiking!!!

Darren White (186)

6 Completed6 Reviews

July 27th I did this hike....I had camped up at Clear Lake the night before and after shooting the wildflowers and sunrise I made my way down to the upper trailhead on clear lake road...found a parking spot and left the trailhead at 9am...This trailhead cuts off about 500ft elevation gain instead of starting at the campground trailhead...Where the 2 trails meet about 200 yds into the hike you have to cross a waterfall...If your feet and shoes are already wet don't make the mistake I did by changing into dry shoes and socks...you will get your feet wet...after this its all uphill until you reach the lower basin...This hike is no joke, take lots of water and some snacks to keep your body fueled for the climb... Once you crest the first hill into the lower basin you see majestic peaks and meadows of wildflowers....the views and surrounding areas are gorgeous....Then way off in the distance on the other side of the basin you can see the people in front of you going up again on their way to the upper basin...Don't feel bad if you take a quick break in the lower basin to get water and food... you earned it....get your breath and start the climb up to the upper basin...you wont regret it....it's like nothing I have ever seen before...blue green lake surrounded by massive mountains and fields of wildflowers....be sure to head over to the creek that is exiting the lake for some nice views as well.... I left the trailhead at 9am and was back down by 1:45pm due to a lightning storm that pushed us off the mountain....As I was coming down just after leaving Ice Lake there was a young lady maybe 28 or so breastfeeding her baby as she hiked up....I think everyone who walked past her was surprised to see that, given the difficulty of the trail....

Tyler Brisco (36)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Does anyone know what old mines or mines are located near the Ice Lake Basin? Thanks!

James Jennison (61)

9 Completed1 Reviews

Possibly the prettiest hike I have been on in Colorado. This trail has everything! Waterfalls, mountain streams, glacier lakes, beautiful views, and tons of wildflowers. Went in mid-July and the trail was in great condition (no snow/mud etc.). If you can get on the trail by 8am or earlier you are guaranteed to have a wonderful day with little chance of afternoon showers.

I would suggest this hike to anyone in the San Juan area.

Pavel Kostadinov (119)

3 Completed3 Reviews

We did this hike on 6/15/14. All the lakes were still frozen and none could be approached without snowshoes, There is still some snow patches towards the end of the treeline but nothing serious. Most of the real snow is about a mile past lower ice lake. The real beauty in hiking this early is being able to compare the waterfall rates from morning to the afternoon. You get a sense that somehow the water is alive.

Tom Moldenhauer (6859)

132 Completed50 Reviews

So far, this is my favorite hike in Colorado, and I've been on a lot of hikes. The scenery,wildflowers,lakes and waterfalls are some of the best in this great state. There are 4 lakes you can hike to, my favorites,upper Ice Lake and Island Lake.The lakes are a awesome turquoise color,and the San Juan mountains are black and maroon, with green grasses, just awesome!!! It does't get any better!!! You've got to hike this trail.

David Gutlay (415)

13 Completed8 Reviews

The elevation change on the ascent is very steep, but it's totally worth it once you reach the summit.

Jennifer Murphy (51)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Was amazing and so worth it!

Support