hiking

views

nature trips

forest

walking

wildlife

birding

wild flowers

dog friendly

trail running

dogs on leash

lake

mountain biking

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kid friendly

river

horseback riding

backpacking

waterfall

snowshoeing

off road driving

rock climbing

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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.

The trail is 3 miles from the parking lot to the top. The last .8 miles from the fork is really steep. Beautiful views when you get there.

hiking
1 day 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.

Short, easy, steep hike to a beautiful lake and mountain view

hiking
2 days ago

GORGEous trail. As long or short as you like (out & back). You run into fewer people the farther out you get. After you go up and up for a little while on some moderate switchbacks, you will descend down further into the gorge and will find access points to the river. Wonderful little lazy shady spots to enjoy from there up to the first bridge. Large boulders strewn throughout the river on which you can relax a while.

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.

2 days ago

It was a challenge but it was worth it. Wow it view tho!

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

Its a beautiful trail. A few steep inclines but all and all good hike. Up and down in 3 hours with a 30 min lunch at the falls.

Unreal hike! Took in total 5 hours out and back, we moved at a slower pace. The views from the top are beautiful and the meadows are spectacular.

Steady climb up but the view at the top is more than worth the effort. Great short hike with lots of brilliant yellow Aspens. RT was ~3.5 hours with plenty of time at the top for lunch and water for hiking companion, Daisy the Wonder Dog. Trail is shaded ~75% of the hike. Recommended hike near Durango.

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.

Road going up to trail head is about 7 miles narrow packed dirt. The hike is worth the drive. Hike to the springs is 1 1/2 miles down. parts of it get pretty skinny with lose dirt. Manageable though. We had the pools to ourselves. We never saw anyone. So secluded and fun. The Springs were not as big or deep as we thought, but still fun.

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!

backpacking
5 days ago

Extremely difficult but equally rewarding

My husband, dog, and I hiked this trail today. First things first, this trail is wayyyyyy more than advertised. We clocked it at almost 9 miles with our GPS watch. Besides that, Ice Lake was absolutely beautiful - blue and full of water. The scramble further to island lake had some sketchy spots that I would have loved to use trekking poles on. Island Lake itself wasn’t as pretty as Ice Lake but still cool I guess. The water was kind of green and not nearly as striking as the ice blue water.
As far as the trail goes, it starts out in a nice pine forest that goes in and out of sunny aspen meadows (some of the leaves already started turning yellow which was beautiful!). Finally you get to a clearing where it flattens out a little followed by a pretty long and difficult climb to Ice Lake. The scramble to Island lake was less than a mile.

backpacking
5 days ago

I never been hiking before but, this trail changed me. Greatest trail I’ve done within my two weeks of being in Colorado. It was difficult but, worth it.

VERY difficult hike!! But like with all of these alpine lakes, it’s 1000% worth it. But seriously, it’s extremely difficult and I highly recommend bringing a walking stick or trekking poles to help with the decent as some areas (especially the switchbacks) are pretty steep with loads of loose gravel. We saw a couple of very friendly folks along the way. Note that the trail head (509) is marked by a pole on the left of the road.

Loved this hike along the river. The water was so clear. We had the trail to ourselves and found a nice spot close to the first bridge where we stopped for lunch and dipped our toes in the water. There are good sized rocks and small boulders on most of the trail, so I would suggest good ankle supported boots. We turned around at the first bridge (3+ miles), which made a great day hike. Stopped at the Rusty Shovel on the way out for a brew. :-)

My favorite hike ever! I hiked to Ice Lake for the 3rd time on 7/19/18. The wildflowers were in full bloom and absolutely stunning. We hit the trail at 6am and it took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach Ice Lake, including many stops to take photos and catch our breath. The hike is very strenuous but worth every step Don't layer too much because the incline will have you sweating 10 minutes in. Absolutely make time to continue to Island Lake as well.

Waterfalls everywhere on the way up, ice lake was gorgeous...I’ve never seen water so blue. Island Lake is a quick scramble over. We took the loop down...it was steep! I’m glad we took the trail to lower basin, ice lake, island lake...because there is a spot where the trail cuts and you can hike to island first. I would not recommend. We saw a bobcat on our way out. Can’t wait to explore more in the area. There is a camp ground at the base and a few places to camp if backpacking by the lower basin. (Hiked mid August)

One of the best hikes with a views near Durango.

Spectacular view from the top. Good workout going up the trail.

Nice hike for kids and dogs. Lots of trees and shade.

off road driving
9 days ago

Great trail. We did it East to West which meant that we went downhill on the West side of the summit and the rocky road. Had our 4x4 Tacoma in 4Lo and 1st gear crawling down the rocky slopes - no problem. Very nice views and spots for photos.

One of my favorite hikes in the Durango area. We did it today and were thrilled to see very little fire damage. You’ll work to get to the top but the views are well worth the effort.

I do enjoy a nice loop with a view. If I were to go again I would probably stay right once I got to the main trail as it is pretty steep for about a mile and a half. You get to the top at about 2 miles and it is a little over 3 down. If you stay right it is easier going uphill then the downhill will be steeper but quicker. It can be quite rocky on the trail but it isnt the whole trail and it didnt ruin the hike for me. I gave it four stars because there are definitely better hikes around with better views but it was a great morning hike, and not having to drive an hour to get to it is definitely a plus.

scenic driving
10 days ago

This was an amazing drive! The lake is so crystal clear almost unbelievable

I hiked this trail on 7/21/18 and it’s probably one of the prettiest hike I’ve been on.
The weather was perfect at this time of the year but I would suggest to go as early as possible in the morning cause it usually thunderstorms in the afternoon. We got to the lake around 11, and the storm was already brewing so we didn’t get to stay as long as we wanted to. There are also different trails to lakes around the ice lake you could visit. There’s one particular one called island lake I wanted to visit but didn’t get to. Next time, though!

The lake was so so so beautiful. It was so blue. One of the guys jumped in the lake and said it was freezing.

The whole trail was pretty tough with the elevation gain but you don’t notice the difficulty cause every second of the trail had such an amazing view.
I would definitely do this trail again.
On the way up fresh wildflowers were blooming right and left. It felt like one of this magical Ireland hikes.
20/10 would recommend! :)

Great views nearly the entire time. Friendly hikers and good footing. Less strenuous than Columbine Lake but still a good workout.

If you have time for only one hike in the area and are in good shape, this or Columbine are it.

The water and views from the top are amazing. We are on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, and this is the most beautiful water we have seen.

Definitely more strenuous than Ice Lake. The beginning is all steep switch backs and a green tunnel.

Parking may be an issue. We drive an RV and parked at a pullout about a mile before the trailhead. A good idea for those without AWD/4WD.

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