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2017 Colorado-Utah-New Mexico Map
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This is a great trail. I highly recommend doing it. We hit the trail by 7:45 and completed it in just under five hours and we took our time. The trail is well marked but you have to pay attention for the cairns. I think the route is better if you go clockwise.

Absolutely Incredible hike! Easily my favorite hike I’ve done in the 7 years I’ve lived in Colorado! Very challenging but worth every moment of struggle. The entire trail is filled with breathtaking views, each one better than the last!

Start early!! Limited parking if you don’t camp at the trailhead and a big majority of the hike is in the sun so it gets very hot very quickly. We started at 7:20am and were back at the car at 12:30pm (If doing it again I would start even earlier.) The 5 hours included water, snack, picture breaks and about a 25-30 min stop at Ice Lake soaking it all in. We went up to Ice Lake first and then over to Island Lake making the way back down a little more pleasant avoiding incredibly steep loose rock.

We saw a lot of overnight tents through the hike and a couple handfuls at Ice Lake itself. When we got up there just before 10am it was pretty busy and only getting busier by the minute. The hike to Island Lake is about 10 extra minutes and although not as blue still very pretty.

On our way back down we ran into packs and packs of people on their way up which got pretty obnoxious as part of the trail is single track and hard to step off and no one actually has their dogs on leash. So, again, start early and avoid the crowds.

A nice way to see some of the best formations at Arches. We went clockwise and caught the arches before returning via the Primitive Trail. Be sure to take the time to visit Navajo, Partition, and the others adjacent to the loop itself. The main trail was filling up even at ~8 AM when we started, but we were almost all alone on the Primitive Trail (mostly sand with some rock climbing, nothing too demanding but not recommended for folks with bad knees/ankles). There’s a lot of parking, bathrooms, and a water refill station at the trailhead, but plan to spend 30 minutes getting there from the visitors center – it’s at the very end of the main road.

Trail was alright, heavily trafficked so we decided to only go to the landscape arch.

Lots of reward for one trail. Looking back I don’t know if I would have done the primitive portion unless you want the extra miles or just to say you did the whole loops. Still beautiful but nothin g you aren’t already exposed to on the earlier parts of the trail. Go early, got to the lot at 7:30 and while there was still parking had to sit around and wait for lots of inconsiderate groups standing around right in front of the arches. Took me 4 hours, being lots of water.

Excellent hike. Upper Ice Lake Basin is just stunning. Wildflowers are past their peak, but still very pretty. Went on from Ice Lake to Island Lake, which was worth the extra effort, though not quite as beautiful as Ice Lake.

hiking
3 days ago

Very cool hike! We did the day hike to Lower, Middle, Upper Blue Lakes and to the Sneffels pass. I recommend camping at the trailhead for an early start. The lower lake is beautiful (it's better than the other two) but pretty full of campers. The best view is from near the middle lake looking down on the lower lake. The path can be hard to find going from lower to middle. The trail from upper lake to the pass was narrow and steep and did get boring, so you could definitely skip this and you wouldn't be missing out. The hike is quite steep in beginning sections, so it gets real old on the way back down (we saw two people who appeared to have twisted ankles from sliding or falling in these sections... both of whom were hiking in tevas, so do with that what you will).

Easily the best hike in all of Colorado - The lakes, the mountain views, the wildflowers. It's just tough enough to be challenging and is beautiful throughout the entire hike. I suggest camping near the trailhead, makes for an easy start and no parking issues (but seriously, if you get to a popular trailhead after 9am and are pissed it's full... you're an idiot). We started around 5am; about an hour in we heard a huge group of coyotes howling off in the distance, presumably about a recent kill, and it was very cool. We didn't see anyone until we were past halfway and started seeing backpackers coming down. When we got to Ice Lake, we were the only ones (on a holiday weekday!) and it was extremely special. Island Lake is definitely worth the additional short trek, but it's not as electric and jaw-dropping as Ice Lake.

Hardest hike/climb I've done so far for it's distance (started 6 miles down), amazing view at the top, well worth it.

It was an unending stairclimber until it became a climb instead of a hike.

Have you ever heard of the boy who cried wolf getting eaten?
Don't try to take your 2wd low clearance rental car up this one, you may have to back up 50ft straight.
Class 3 scrambling? It actually exists and you can learn what it is on this trail. Some very exposed maneuvers, try to stay on the shale going up and don't trust any rock regardless of size.

Remember the dirt roads you took up to the actual trailhead sign, you'll see many options going downward.

Somehow the waterfalls were ignored by nearly everyone. They made the area way more than just a crowded 14er for me.

Start early to avoid the crowds renting Jeeps. 8:30am summit, a few other people. 9am summit, a dozen with more on their way up.

I saw a medium-small dog make it up, but he had to be passed between group members at the very top section (Larger dogs probably wouldn't make this section either). I heard him bark a good amount on their way down, I'm assuming out of fear.

Absolutely beautiful! A tremendous amount of work to get to Ice Lake (upper) but 100% worth it!

backpacking
6 days ago

I backpacked from the trailhead to Ice Lake (upper Ice Lake in this app’s description) and set up camp then visited Island Lake with just a day bag, returning to Ice Lake for the night. I then hiked back out via the same route to the trailhead the next morning. Most people on the trail were day hikers but on a Tuesday night in August, four other groups of backpackers stayed the night at Ice Lake. This hike has some of the most beautiful vistas I have seen in Colorado!

The trail starts with a moderately difficult section of well marked trail into the woods. It opens to a beautiful waterfall with a view back into the valley. The next small stretch of wooded area guides you past abandoned mining equipment and to a section of steep, sunny (hot!) meadow. Again, there a great mountain views.

The next big chunk is steep and wooded. This is where I really began to feel the work I was putting in. The switchbacks help but many sections are pretty strenuous, especially with my 30lb overnight pack. By the time we leveled off to the generally flat section I was more than ready for a break.

The view of lower ice lake basin is about 2/3 of the way through the hike both in elevation and distance. We stopped in the trees and took off our packs, sat about twenty minutes to rest and eat. This was necessary for our group with packs but many day hikers just kept moving through.

After Lower Basin Lake (or Lower Ice Lake Basin) there’s a stretch of flat area that is more exposed (total of about a mile of relatively flat hiking) and then you get another creek/waterfall view where the trail crosses the water and gains about 700ft in steep, rocky switchbacks. This stretch was difficult (we hit it in the afternoon heat do to delays getting on the trail in the morning) plus it’s steep and more loose compared to the beautifully padded trail for the first approx three miles. It is also the most incredible views of Lower Ice Lake and the meadow, valley, and mountains surrounding. I loved this stretch of the trail.

Then finally! The top! Ice Lake was both our end point for setting up camp as well as most day hikers’ final destination. The lake is STUNNING. The rock deposits give it the most incredible blue color. It is well worth the climb! There is running water if you bring a filter to purify more drinking water. There is a faint trail around the lake. There are multiple places to sit or set up camp without smashing the wildflowers. You’re above the tree line at this point so you’ve got open views in all directions.

It’s a quick little hike up to Island lake although one short stretch is loose and near the edge making it a little intense if you’re scared of heights! Island lake is worth seeing but mostly it’s the view along the hike that makes the journey up worth it, even after a long hike to Ice Lake.

We did not journey to Fuller Lake and no one we talked to along the way mentioned plans to head that direction.

We each drank about 3L of water on the way up and at least one more liter on the way back down. If you’re doing a day hike you may not go through as much water but I’d say most people should carry 3L or bring a purifier to get more water along the way.

This is a beautiful hike and although it is challenging it is more than worth it. The sites are incredible. If you’re in the area and feel up for a good workout, this hike is unmissable. Enjoy!!

Extremely beautiful and remarkable. Many archea and other interesting rocks. The landforms here are very unordinary.

A hike to Ice Lake is a great way to spend a day while in the Silverton area. While it attracts many hikers, there is a reason! Go!

This was definitely a tough hike! If you don’t have a high-clearance vehicle be prepared to hike about 7-8 miles in & out. Once you finally get to the actual trail, there’s a deceiving sign that says 1.2 miles to the summit—it’s pretty much a straight incline up the full 1.2 miles and there are rocks/boulders that fall while you’re hiking up. Since the hike is so steep, the rocks slip constantly so we recommend a helmet, like some people had, and possibly hiking poles for the trip back down. Heading back down was honestly the hardest part because it puts a lot of stress on your knees. There are several false summits so be prepared! When you finally reach the top & are close to the summit, you’ll have to scramble through a tight notch to reach the actual summit. Get someone to help you because that part can be tricky—especially if you’re hiking alone. All in all, it’s a beautiful mountain & I promise you’ll remember the hike forever.

Beautiful hike.

Challenging hike/ climb, but one of my favorite 14-ers ever. Beautiful views and totally worth it. Be prepared to climb/ scramble.

Gorgeous views.

A beautiful hike with stellar views. The color of the lake is like nothing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been all over the west and Hawaii.. You should be warned that the elevation gain is real, this is not an easy hike. The grade is steep almost the whole way up and doesn’t ever level out. There is an exposed rocky scramble for the last leg leading up to ice lake that took us a long time with lots of breaks. Expect a difficult but rewarding hike!

Amazing hike. Worth the early start. Bring good socks and lots of water. Lake can be windy so something to break the wind at the top is recommended. Don’t let the parking deter you. Hiked last Saturday and arrived at 7:45am. Things were getting packed but there were still spots.

This was the best hike I’ve done to date, and I’ve hiked all over Colorado for over 20 years. We stayed in Ouray and got up early to make the drive and get a get a spot. My 12 and 14 year old girls killed this hike. It’s hard but not too hard. The hardest part is not stopping every 5 feet to take another picture! Anyone who gives this less than 5 stars because they didn’t plan ahead is only thinking of themselves. Treat yourself to the hot springs in Ouray afterwards, you’re gonna need it!

Heads up, if there are no parking spots, wait for one to open up or find another trail to hike. Do not parking in the meadows across the road from the current parking area. The parking lot is small. Get an early start. Parking tickets are very expensive.

Ice lake was of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever hiked to! Fairly steep incline most of the way up, with some loose rock towards the end. Made the hike up to Island Lake which was also really pretty and definitely worth it, but not as impressive as Ice Lake. Camped at Ice Lake and had great weather! Clocked about 9mi total.

Advanced hiking trail with an incredible view.

The shoreline of the lower lake alone is worth the effort.

hiking
10 days ago

Beautiful all the way through.

hiking
10 days ago

Excellent hike, Upper Ice Lake Basin is just stunning. Wildflowers are past their peak, but still very pretty. Went on to Island Lake, which was worth the extra effort, though not quite as beautiful as Upper Ice Lake.

backpacking
10 days ago

Great hike and beautiful views.

We did the hike late in the day (started around 17.30). It took us about 1.5 hours to go up and left us not enough time to make it all the way to the upper lake (going down last mile we had to use flashlights - its getting quite dark there in the trees in between two mountain ranges), but that feeling of being the last ones going up, resting in the quiet serenity of the lake and going down all alone was precious. The hike - smells, birds, wildberries. streams, gorgeous waterfall - everything is so good..

This is my second time doing this hike. It’s seriously the most beautiful hike I’ve done in Colorado, and I’ve done a lot. The entire trial is amazing and though it’s steep, it’s not dangerous or difficult as long as you take your time (if you’re not a seasoned hiker).

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