Ice Lake Basin Trail

HARD 420 reviews
#1 of 90 trails in

Ice Lake Basin Trail is a 8.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Silverton, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,093 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

snow

off trail

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.

1 day ago

Hiked on 7/22. Hiked up in dark to reach Ice Lake for sunrise. Breathtaking for both effort and for the scenery. Wildflowers and the turquoise blue color of the lake were wonderful. Went up to Island Lake after, which was also beautiful.

hiking
1 day ago

One of the most beautiful hikes in the area!

hiking
2 days ago

What an incredible hike. It’s strenuous with lots of elevation gain, but so beautiful. A few water crossings and amazing sights along the way. We took our time and stayed at the lake and Island lake for about 30-45 minutes each. Definitely a must see!

hiking
2 days ago

Difficult trail, but can be done in 5 hours if you hustle, steep for a good amount of the trail, but it’s worth it when you get to the lakes, very scenic

hiking
3 days ago

This trail is amazing! did it two days ago and it's so rewarding! It is tough in spots but it does give your legs a break in spots. It's not strictly uphill. Take lots of water and sunscreen because much of this trail is in the sun. Take your time and have fun

Very good trail. The view up there is worth it. Also, camping at the lake is a good idea (if you check the temperature first)

4 days ago

We did this one today and it was absolutely gorgeous. The entire trail had so many different views and the lake itself was mesmerizing. We started at 6:30a (on a Friday) and there weren’t too many people. We thought the trail was confusing at a couple junctions as there aren’t any signs. There were a couple river crossings.

Awesome

hiking
7 days ago

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.

hiking
8 days ago

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.

10 days ago

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

backpacking
11 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!!

hiking
11 days ago

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!

13 days ago

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!

hiking
14 days ago

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.

hiking
14 days ago

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!

hiking
14 days ago

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.

14 days ago

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.

14 days ago

Advanced hiking trail with an incredible view.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful all the way through.

hiking
15 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.

15 days ago

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).

16 days ago

hard, but so Beautiful!!

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike! Definitely a challenge but well worth it. Recommend camping off the county road 585 past the trail head so you can make it to the trail head early. It was a absolutely beautiful hike the entire way and the lake was breathtaking!

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike! Amazing views! A little challenging for the inexperienced but worth it! Lake was amazing and the views are beautiful!

16 days ago

This hike was gorgeous. I hiked with a 5 year old and 6 year old who are both reasonably seasoned hikers and it was challenging for them but they accomplished it, being by far the youngest ones at the lake that day. The lake and vistas are well worth the climb.

17 days ago

This hike was extremely frustrating. Let me explain.
You’ll notice the description of this hike states that dogs are okay ON LEASH. The amount of people on a Friday doing this hike whose dogs were roaming around, who couldn’t control those roaming dogs, whose dogs barked at people or other dogs (even lunging at said other dogs) and who didn’t even HAVE A LEASH ON HAND, was absolutely insane.
If you are that owner of those dogs, I just want you to know that you’re what’s wrong with the world we’re growing into. One where people only think about themselves, and not others.
So, if you’re the type of person trying to hike your dogs on leash, prepare yourself for the many other dog owners who will not be doing the same. I know it sounds like I have hyper-aggressive dogs, but I don’t. I have an extremely playful dog and a dog who doesn’t like other dogs lunging at her. You’d think we would’ve been fine.
NOW THAT I’VE GOTTEN THAT OFF OF MY CHEST. This hike was the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done. My husband and I will be returning without our dogs. When we got to the bottom, we were so mentally exhausted from dog and owner confrontations, that it unfortunately took away from the scenery.

hiking
18 days ago

Finally did the Ice lake and Island lake. Took us 2 and a half hours for the ascent and 1 and a half for descent. The part after ice lake to island lake is the most difficult, but totally worth it. The lakes were even more beautiful than the pictures!

hiking
18 days ago

Completed this loop hike on August 2. Got there at 830 and the lot was already full. Did see a lot more people in the afternoon, so if you want more solitude and better weather, an earlier start is recommended. The hike was really nice and Ice Lake was definitely worth it. Went up to Island Lake, but maybe because of drought was not as impressive. However the loop around Island back to the main trail was empty with stellar views.

19 days ago

I did this trail on July 27th with my two kids, 9 and 11. I was little concern before going on it with the kids but it is totally worth it. Kids had blast. The views are breath taking and the blue water of the lake is priceless. It showered four times on the way up and it felt good. At the lake, we did lunch and right after lunch it started rain again, which changed into snow so we wrapped up. The views, the meadow and the lake all beautiful. We took lots of water and bug spray.

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