hiking

views

forest

nature trips

wildlife

birding

walking

wild flowers

dog friendly

trail running

dogs on leash

lake

mountain biking

camping

river

kid friendly

horseback riding

backpacking

waterfall

snowshoeing

off road driving

rock climbing

fishing

scenic driving

wheelchair friendly

The San Juan National Forest spans more than 1.8 million acres of puclic lands near Durango in the southwestern corner of Colorado. The forest encompasses three wilderness areas: Weminuche Wilderness, South San Juan Wilderness, and Lizard Head Wilderness, two of which are alpine wilderness areas. San Juan National Forest was declared by president Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 and is now also part of the Chimney Rock National Monument. The park's terrain ranges from high-desert to alpine peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Popular highlights within the park include the San Juan Skyway, a scenic drive with excellent views, and numerous hiking trails including Ice Lake Basin Trail. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and skiing. The National Forest also offers many campsites for use, including Cayton Campground. If you want some history, take a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a historic landmark that passes through the national forest.

A good trail close to town with fantastic views up the Animas valley. We took the eastern loop which branches often to the right towards viewing places. The view at the top is fabulous. We opted to come back down the same trail as locals on the trail mentioned the western section is steep, rocky, and limited views. Overall a great 6-7 mile hike.

hiking
6 days ago

The best hike I’ve ever done after years of admiring this mountain from the ground in Pagosa Springs. Not for the faint of heart - not the off road drive to find the unmarked trail nor the strenuous back half of the hike when you’re hiking a steep narrow path flanked by precipitous drips. But it’s SO worth it. Incredible 360 panoramic views once you break the tree line and a rewarding bottle of names for those who reach the true Pagosa summit. (Beware the 2-3 false summit sighting before the real one). Difficult several hours hike but definitely doable if you’re in pretty decent shape.

Great little hike with plenty of Aspen and Pine views.

Had a great hike! Some steep parts, over all it was easy. Watch the weather, as we left there was hail, no problem for us, but some people were hiking in t-shirts and sneakers.

hiking
11 days 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!

11 days ago

This is our go to trail near Durango with first hikes and folks that don’t hike a lot. It has a fair elevation, great trees, very nice overlooks, beaver dams, beaver chewed tree stumps, and the reward of a pretty lake you can walk around. We call it our highest ROI hike. It’s a great opportunity to try your light/easy/first time 4X4 skills to get to the trail head. It can be done with RWD only and some ground clearance. We did it in a RWD Suburban and once many years ago in a minivan. We think the drive has gotten slightly more difficult since then. We did see a Corolla with a smashed wheel being towed off, so pick your tire spots well.

hiking
12 days ago

Great little hike. Well marked. Saw horseback riders and a group with a couple dogs. Beautiful views of the mountains!

Love this hike! Soooooo gorgeous with the gold & red & green leaves falling! Beautiful year round!

hiking
12 days ago

Great hike with awesome views.

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.

off road driving
15 days ago

Fun trail. Different look than the rest of the others in the area.

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.

We started at the trailhead parking lot west of US Hwy 550 across the street from the bathrooms. The fall colors were awesome and the trail was in perfect condition. The hike up to the intersection with the Engineer Pass trail took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and we stopped at a large rock in the meadow below Engineer Mountains east slopes. The rock is called "Social Rock" or "Chicken Rock" because a lot of people gather here and decide "not" to continue up Engineer Mountain. The route back down was nice and much easier than the hike up.

Did with baby and dog - challenging but doable.

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.

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!

Beautiful trail and awesome weather

hiking
19 days 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
19 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike. The end makes the long drive worth it. We'll marked and easy to find.

We took the 2 hour guided tour. Their website makes it sound like you can't go up there without the tour, but you just can't drive up there without purchasing the tour. You could walk up the 2.5 mile road. The tour was nice and informative and you can't beat the views.

hiking
19 days ago

Steep, challenging hike! Not for the faint of heart climbing up the ridgeline, poles were essential. Very steep trail as described with lots of loose rock and trees/logs to climb over. We made it halfway up the 4WD road and had to park along side as the terrain is ROUGH. Not many places to bail out along the road. Hiked up the rest of the road (-1 hr from car to trailhead). We made it to the summit in 2 hrs and back to trailhead 1 hr 15 min. Great views if you’re not too focused on not falling off the mountain! Good luck, make sure you have a lot of clearance in your vehicle/someone who has driven up to trailhead if you opt for that route.

hiking
19 days ago

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

backpacking
20 days 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.

Short hike, beautiful falls.

This is a fun trail, the hot springs and river are awesome! At the time we visited there were parts of the hot springs too hot for us to comfortably step into and we have enjoyed springs up to 108. The river was low when we did this, but there were still fish you could see in it! Talking to locals, they let us know the temps can vary by season.

Now - AllTrails, please update your rating of this trail to at lease moderate if not difficult. There’s about 1/3 mile that’s as steep as Hanging Lake (near Glenwood Springs) and parts of the trail were washed out which required scrambling across two very loose sections with hands and feet. Not for those that aren’t sure footed!

hiking
24 days ago

I took the recommendations below and went counterclockwise which I think was a very good idea. I started early on a Tuesday, and saw just a few people with dogs in the first mile and last mile, but no one on the rest of the trail. The views are spectacular, but beware that the trail is very rocky. Easy to lose your footing if you are not careful. The trail is adequately marked but found it helpful to have the map on my phone as well.

Amazing. I would rate hike moderate to get to the springs it’s downhill which means going back is all uphill. Excellent hike and of course the view is beautiful.

hiking
25 days 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.

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