Silverton

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Best Trails

Ice Lake Basin

Silverton, CO

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.

  • Best Hiking

  • Best Mountain Biking

  • Best Trail Running

Recent Reviews

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Ice Lake Basin
by Lauren B

1 Completed 1 Reviews

I'm a native who has explored all over the state, and this trail in all of it's midsummer glory, with waterfalls and wildflowers abound, is the most beautiful place I've been.

However, as a former search and rescue volunteer, I'm extremely concerned that it's a tragedy waiting to happen. As we were coming down in the afternoon we encountered loads of unprepared people starting way too late in the day carrying little more than the cotton shirts on their back. Many also had clearly miserable and exhausted kids with them and continued on despite our warnings that storm clouds were brewing.

I think many people see the relatively short mileage of the trail, fail to realize how steep it is, and underestimate the time/exertion it will take.

First of all, you gain around 2,500 ft on the trail. Really this trail is quite comparable to many of the 14er routes in elevation gain and length, it's just lower. In my opinion it's better to see this more like an easy 14er than a quick easy day hike. It's not overly difficult but it will be quite a challenge for many kids, flatlanders, out-of- shape folks etc.

Much of the route is above timberline, there's water everywhere, and several stream crossings. In Colorado wicked thunderstorms are to be expected on summer afternoons. Getting caught in a storm here, especially in the upper basin, would be a nightmare. The section leading to the upper basin is very steep, rocky, in parts wet with little streams, somewhat exposed and above timberline - extremely dangerous in a storm with slick rocks, lightning, swollen stream crossings etc. Thunderstorms at these elevations are an entirely different beast than the ones you may be used to closer to sea level. They also can develop very rapidly and seemingly come out of nowhere.

Compounding these issues is that for the vast majority of the trail, you won't even be able to see a storm coming in. The vast majority of storms travel west to east here, and all those 13ers ringing the lakes block your view of the skies. We saw nothing but blue skies until we reached the upper basin... Then we could see the ominous clouds gathering right behind the 13ers. As we hurriedly descended, ascending folks were oblivious to the impending storm.

START EARLY IN THE MORNING TO AVOID STORMS. A good rule of thumb for hikes like this is to aim to be below timberline descending by 10-noon. Check the weather beforehand and reschedule if necessary. On your way up ask people coming down from the top how the sky looked and turn around if it sounds iffy.

There are also a few spots that are somewhat confusing. Read some of the posts below and you'll find plenty of people who went the wrong way. Bring a good topo map like Trail's Illustrated and a trail description.

This is a fantastic, gorgeous hike and it can be done very safely if you follow basic mountain safety guidelines and prepare properly.

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Ice Lake Basin
by Frank C

10 Completed 10 Reviews

A beautiful alpine hike featuring waterfalls, creeks, wildflowers, and Alpine vistas. Upper Ice Lake is worth the effort.

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Ice Lake Basin
by

6 Completed 3 Reviews

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Ice Lake Basin
by

3 Completed 3 Reviews

Best hike in Colorado. The lake and peak views are incredible.

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Ice Lake Basin
by

1 Completed 1 Reviews

Pretty difficult for flatlanders from the Midwest, but so worth it in the end. My wife and I, and our three teenage sons hiked up to the lower ice lake basin and set up camp in a beautiful spot near the river and under some trees. It rained pretty hard with some strong winds and although it was early August, it got cold at night. My sons hiked up to upper ice lake in the morning and they came back in awe of the beauty. Their pictures were amazing. My wife and I hung back at camp, and enjoyed the sunrise with a hot cup of coffee. I wish we had read the previous post of Celene because we also went the wrong way up the right side of the first waterfall and it totally sapped our energy since we had big packs for overnight camping. In the end though, absolutely amazing hike with great views of surrounding peaks and valleys with beautiful wildflowers.

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Ice Lake Basin
by

1 Completed 1 Reviews

Last trip to So Mineral we met a man 74 who had just returned from Ice Lakes. Here is our situation.... My wife and I made this hick 50 years ago this month and now wondering if we should try again. We will have been camping in Wyoming and Colorado mountains for about 3 weeks before arriving at So Mineral so we should have adjusted to the altitude at that point. The only question will we be in good enough condition. I guess we could always turn around and go back down. Wish us luck.

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Highland Mary Lakes
by

1 Completed 1 Reviews

Its ranked #9, but i don't know way. This hike is amazing and it can easily be made into a loop by combining the CDT. Similar to Ice Lakes hike minus the big crowds.

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Ice Lake Basin
by

7 Completed 7 Reviews

Awesome hike. It's pretty strenuous, but our 4 year old did it, too.

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Spud Lake
by

1 Completed 1 Reviews

Great hike with kids. The views are beautiful and the lake is perfect to play in.

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Ice Lake Basin
by

2 Completed 1 Reviews

Magical. It's certainly a climb but not to be missed. Absolutely wonderful!

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