Explore Telluride - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Did this hike on 12/8/2018 on a sunny day with packed snow on the ground. The hike is actually only .2 miles from the trailhead to the waterfall. Description on AllTrails is currently very inaccurate. There are a bunch of other loop trails to do that branch off from the trailhead of this hike, but the .2 mile trail to the Cornet Creek waterfall dead ends at the waterfall.

Would rate this waterfall in the winter as 10 stars if I could!!! When we visited, the waterfall was frozen and formed into an icicle-like volcano with the water still pouring into the top of the “volcano”. Very awesome and unique sight!

On the other hand, the short hike to get to the waterfall was pretty challenging with the snow on the ground! Used ice cleats for traction, but trail is very narrow (barely the width of one human foot) in some stretches and follows along a steep ledge most of the way. I was very scared during the first attempt to make it past the narrow, steep sections and gave up, but then found a branch to use for support and felt more comfortable. My husband is like a mountain goat and made it just fine without ice cleats or a trekking pole.

Cool views but the trail needs better maintenance and signage. When faced with a fork in the road take the left and don’t climb any unnecessary climbs

Awesome trail. This is all uphill so be ready to exert some effort. At tree line the snow is waist deep in some areas with crust. Post holing was a challenge, snowshoes would’ve helped. Didn’t summit Ballard’s peak due to late start.

Hiked on 10/27. Doable for sure but lots of snow— wish I would have had spikes but can be carefully done without. If you have gaiters use them. My feet were soaked.

I was plenty warm with a long sleeve and puffy vest.

The directions lead you to trailhead accurately.

I went on past ice lake but could not make it to island lake as the tracks stop right now due to snow.

I’m 34 and in good shape and it took me about 2:45 to get to ice lake. I also drank near 5L of water. Totally epic views if you follow tracks up about another 500-800 feet of vert— about 1/2 mile distance.

hiking
1 month ago

Breath-taking in more ways than one and our favorite hike on our honeymoon. The 'difficult' rating is no joke for low-elevation folk like we are, but it was worth the sweat. Above the treeline it's like Tolkien county, a different world than our Minnesota. We hiked on a Sunday in late September; we started early - around 7:30 - and only ran into a few other hikers. It was much busier on the descent.

hiking
1 month ago

A couple of inches of soft/slushy snow for the first 1/2 mile and then increasing to 4-6" of snow until you hit tree line. Once at tree line I couldn't locate trail at all and quickly got into snow a foot or more deep. Snowshoes or skis recommended above tree line.

Very well traveled with magnificent views

Amazing and breath taking view

This was a great hike! Didn’t make it to the peak for a couple of reasons. The main being there was way too much snow on the ground. My lifted Jeep made it up until we started sliding back on the ice. Also, we started at about 3pm, so obviously we were losing sunlight. It’s doable if you start early and wear snow boots. Hiking stalks would’ve been a plus as well.

hiking
2 months ago

Most beautiful hike I've even been on. The reward at the top is unbelieveable. I've never seen anything like it. The wildflowers were blooming like crazy when we went in the end of August. It was very difficult for us being from Nebraska due to the elevation but I would do it again!

Moderately difficult and strenuous trail with beautiful views. Upper Ice Lake was spectacularly blue and purple and well worth the hike. It took us 5.5 hours round trip with frequent photo op stops and about 40 minutes at Upper Ice Lake.

Recommend starting with island lake, then going to ice lake. Adds some mileage to the hike, but from island lake you're going mostly downhill to ice lake then to the trailhead, which was a relief after the tough climb. Couldn't get over the views!

I went last week. Weather was perfect. If you don’t have 4WD, turnoff the highway and go down the hill. Park after the bridge and hike up to the trail (~1 mike).

Trail is steep for the first 2 - 2.5 miles once you get to the trail head. First 2 miles are a series of switch backs and then you climb uphill after that. Once you reach the top of the hill, you descend a bit and it flattens off until you reach the lake where there is a slight uphill.

The lake is gorgeous! It’s much bigger and less populated than Ice Lake.

Careful going down. The trail is steep and covered in loose rock. I had hiking poles and went slow but still managed to totally wipe out a couple of times.

The hike was great but the scenery leading up to the lake was okay (Ice Lake was better). The lake is surrounded by mountains so you also don’t get a view of the mountains like Ice Lake.

10 miles if you park after the bridge and 8 if you start at the trail head.

hiking
2 months ago

EPIC!!!! There is really nothing I can say, nor are there pictures I can show that will accurately describe this hike. You just have to go and see it for yourself. Such an amazing lake, even more beautiful than Ice Lakes. There are plenty of peaks all around Columbine Lake to summit and you will see other lakes as well as gorgeous mountain ranges that seem to go on forever.

As others have mentioned, be prepared for a grueling first 2 miles. The switchbacks are steep and feel like they keep going, and then when you get out of the trees you will see how steep and high of a mountain you have to climb, basically straight up. After that, it’s nice and easy hills with spectacular views before you hit the last little incline that takes you to the lake. Get through those 2 miles and you will be rewarded with an experience that is unrivaled.

Went on 9/29/18 and the weather was gorgeous. Bring layers. Gets hot on the hike up and can get a little windy at times. Never needed a jacket, just one long sleeve to go over my short sleeve when it was windy up top. Mostly just had hiking pants and a short sleeve tee on.

hiking
2 months ago

This hike was truly incredible. Went on 9/28/18. Amazing views, so much to do, waterfalls to climb while on you’re way up, etc. Weather was perfect!!Getting to see that beautiful blue water was so worth all the effort to get up there. Pictures can’t show how clear and blue it really is. I highly recommend hiking the summit peak directly behind Ice Lakes. You will have a great birds eye view of the lake, you can see the other side of the mountain, and I got LTE up there to make a FaceTime call!

Take plenty of water and snacks. The hardest part is the very end of the hike as it becomes really steep before you hit the ice lake. I will definitely be back!

As beautiful as this lake was, I say Columbine Lake was even more beautiful and there was more to explore and do. We went on back to back days and I highly recommend both!

hiking
2 months ago

The best hike I have ever done - and I've been on many hikes throughout the US. The bluest blue I have ever seen in a lake - rivals Crater Lake in Oregon. Definitely worth the lack of oxygen... Took us around five and a half hours round trip with many many stops to catch our breath and take in the scenery. We are in our early 30's, pretty good physical shape, but we're flat landers from below sea level so the elevation change really tired us out... bring plenty of water (we ran out of 2L before the end of the hike) and snacks.. best to come early so that you can take your time and stop as often as needed. Listen to your body especially if you are from below sea level. Saw many dogs and a few kids doing the trail as well. The first lake is within 2.25 miles of the start and the 2nd lake (Ice lake) is another mile after that at around 3.5. My app calculated 7.20 miles round trip. There is another lake after Ice lake but we didn't have time nor energy to get there.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing! Recommend to anyone. Be prepared and start early, met many hikers that did not bring enough water and food.

backpacking
2 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes that I’ve ever gone! Prime color season so it was amazing.

Went in late September. The weather was perfect and the fall colors were at peak season. The hike is not long, but the first half is straight uphill, so be prepared for a workout. The lake is amazing and well worth the work it takes to get there.

hiking
2 months ago

I LOVE THIS HIKE! The first time I did it was a few years ago for 4th of July, and unfortunately the lake was iced over, but the plants were in full bloom and so pretty! The second time was this year for labor day and The lake was amazing and there was no snow, however all the plants were dying. I would recommend doing this hike early August to mid August. This hike literally has all four seasons. It was sunny to start and then rained and snowed all in one hike lol. The hike isn't too bad as far as toughness but it will have your heart going. We also hiked to island lake and it was a lot closer than expected, it isn't too far from ice lake. I highly recommend just pushing a little further. There is just so much to see on this hike.
As far a the road getting there it isn't bad, you don't need a 4WD unlike other hikes in this area.

on Ice Lake Basin Trail

scenic driving
2 months ago

Ice Lake Basin and Island Lake are the most beautiful trail in Colorado IMHO.

One of my favorites. This trail is increasingly popular so getting an early start is key if you’re interested in a quieter experience. Catching the sunset from the upper basin is incredible and completely worth it — be bear aware if you are going up ahead of the crowds, and definitely push for Island Lake if you’ve got the time!

You won’t hold the consistent (and, at times a bit brutal, haha) elevation gain against this trail when you see the payoff at the end. The lakes are unbelievably beautiful and the views are insane.

Amazing

Now one of my favorite 14ers!
If you have 4 wheel drive and high clearance try to go as far up this road as you can! It will help eliminate you hiking up the whole road to get to the trail head! If you can make it far up that road, you will thank yourself on the way back down

Loved it. First time off road with a Jeep and wasn’t to bad.

hiking
2 months ago

The bluest blue water that blew my mind! Most of the hike was not too bad until the last 45min. Completed the loop rather than out and back.

hiking
2 months ago

This is one of the prettiest areas in Colorado. Getting all the way to the lake is only possible for a few months during the summer, but still worth the hike even if you get stopped by snow near the top (as I did in May). Be prepared to encounter some gorgeous waterfalls and mountain panoramic views on your way up.

hiking
3 months ago

Challenging but so beautiful! The scenery was incredible - glad I made it to the Colbert blue lake!!

A must if you are in the area! The lake was unbelievably blue and beautiful! Felt like a straight up and straight down hike with only a very small portion that was flat. Seeing ice lake at the end makes every step you have taken worth it though!

Great views the entire time and will do this hike again when I'm back in Silverton.

Amazing hike, well worth the trek up. It is hard as people have mentioned, but the lake is amazing.
I took another person's suggestion and parked at the bottom after the one lane bridge because I dont have 4wd. One note about that you have to turn right at the very first road after the bridge and the trail head is .7 miles up that road. I ended up walking up the main road and added another 2 miles to my trip.
A couple people have compared this lake to ice lake. They are both great hikes and unique. Personally I thought that ice lake had better panoramic mountain views going up but Columbine lake was way cooler. I would say that they are equally hard because ice lake is steep the whole way up. Columbine lake is steeper for the first two miles and then you have another mile or so of flat, and of course have to go uphill another quarter of a mile before you get all the way there.
Overall great hike!

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