Island Lake Via Ice Lakes Trail

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San Juan National Forest

Island Lake Via Ice Lakes Trail is a 6.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Ophir, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, and snowshoeing and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 6.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,670 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

rock climbing

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

scramble

snow

13 days ago

Road Closed to get to this hike as of 5/11/20

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked mid August, everything was green and it was cool in the shade. Super fun trail with a healthy incline the majority of the way. We stopped at ice lake first and then headed up to island lake. It was a great up and back. Bring a light jacket, light bag, and water. You will be for a treat.

hiking
7 months ago

Incredible trail. Took 5 hours round trip, conditions are still hikeable without yack tracks. Good luck!

hiking
7 months ago

We are mostly sedentary, 45-50 years old, relatively unhealthy, and live at about 700 ft elevation. It took us 11 hours to ice lake, island lake, and back. We struggled to breathe a lot but found the inclines and the hikes to be pretty easy. The entire hike had always rewarded us with amazing views, and we got two lakes for the price of one. It took us only 20 minutes to island lake from ice lake (go right and cross a stream). There was a constant threat of storms, but we weren’t turning around. There were campers at ice lake and island lake. I’m afraid of heights, and I was scared once on the ice lake trail and twice on the island lake trail...nothing too bad though. We saw many wildflowers going to ice lake and many marmots going to island lake. There were places to use the bathroom along the trail, at ice lake (behind boulders), and island lake (boulders). The park and trails are well maintained. Trekking poles were helpful. Finding the trail head from the parking lot was easy. There was plenty of parking at 9:30 am. People parked around the perimeter of the parking lot and the side of the road. There was a restroom in the parking lot. The trail is obvious, although not always marked. There are tons of people that hike it at all hours. Side trails are 2 ft wide. The main trail is 4 ft wide. Tips: bring water, snacks, rain gear, trekking poles, a light. Also, travel light. In conclusion, we handled ice lakes well probably due to having adjusted to the altitude, using oxygen canisters, inhalers, and traveling with light day packs. We weren’t that sore afterward either. We were just tired. Also, There are no pages in the trail register. We saw people hiking even around dark though. We are from Texas and we’re hot the entire time. The creek crossings weren’t bad enough to need water shoes unless it’s raining. The water is ice cold. You must do island lake. If you can’t camp at South Mineral then stay in Silverton.

hiking
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

Island vibes! Unreal views literally the entire time., 10/10 would hike again. You can summit the mountains surrounding Island Lake but be ready to scramble. It’s worth it, if you’re 50/50 on if you should or not, just do it.

hiking
8 months ago

Breathtaking trail, every corner was a new and beautiful experience. We went up to higher ice lake then over to island lake. We then took the loop down to the bottom which was must faster than the way up. You can backpack in and camp, mostly people were set up in the lower basin. The trailhead is across from south mineral campground, which has dispersed camping all around it. We picked a dispersed spot and walked to the trailhead. It was very quiet and peaceful.

hiking
8 months ago

We clocked 3.7 miles to Ice Lake and then we did another .5 to Island Lake. We took the shorter way down and it was a little steeper. Overall clocked about 8 miles. Ice Lake was breathtaking - the bluest mountain lake I’ve ever seen!!! Island lake was pretty as well. Wildflowers of every color also!

hiking
8 months ago

The view on top is definitely worth another mile hike from Ice Lakes Basin. The reason why I only gave it 4 stars 1. The lake isn’t that jaw dropping as Ice Lakes which is crystal blue. 2. There’s one part of the trail that’s kinda shady; it’s sandy and very easy to sleep off down 200 feet atleast. But overall this is an amazing hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Quite possibly my favorite hike in the US. So beautiful. At one point you can see 4 different peaks, each one of them completely different from the other, not to mention the lakes. Ice lake is a stunner with the unreal technicolor blue of the water but Island lake is quite magical.

hiking
8 months ago

Wildflowers and beautiful views! The waterfall was magnificent as well as the avalanche debri. I would do this hike over and over. Dogs are allowed, so we ran into heavy foot traffic with lots of doggies! On the map at the trailhead, it states that it is 3.79 miles to Ice Lake from the trailhead. That is one way. We saw a lot of unprepared hikers with no water and it is a steep hike with serious elevation gain. We had to contact SAR for a woman who had hurt herself on the trail coming down from Island Lakes Trail- she had been there for five hours. It was my first backpacking trip and we helped rescue someone so that was an experience! I did not get to see the lakes unfortunately after the long journey, I will try again!

hiking
8 months ago

Camped overnight, this gorgeous view was just for us. We were so lucky.

hiking
8 months ago

Did this hike finally yesterday. Went straight up to island and then looped back to ice and down. Trail up to island was a solid uphill for sure but the views were unbeatable and the lakes didn’t disappoint!

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Hiked the Island Lake trail first and went to Ice Lake second. Went back that way as well on decent. Wild flowers were exceptional on the way up to Island Lake after the split at 11,400. Start to finish, one of my favorites trails. Some people I ran into stated they wished they had done the Island Lake trail instead, but I cant speak to their issues with the other part of the loop. I would do it the same way again. Clocked 2772' and 9ish miles for the out and back.

hiking
9 months ago

Amazing! By far the best hike I’ve ever done. The views were insane once you made it to the top. Lots of areas to cross over water, be prepared. Definitely would also suggest walking sticks - did not have them and wish I did. My recommendation is to hike ice lake then do the extra 1/2 mile to island lake. Totally different color and less crowded. Then, head down via island lake rather than backtracking to Ice lakes trail. It’s the black route on AllTrails that connects back to the same trail down to the trailhead. The wildflowers are unbelievable right now. Get there soon! Can’t wait to make it back someday.

hiking
9 months ago

amazing beautiful hike best ever! there is no better scenery where I have hiked in colorado! but! the trails need to be marked better it was very confusing. please mark the trails! better...soooooo beautiful!

hiking
9 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes. I'm not sure how to top this one. Went went up to ice lake then over to Island lake. We took the loop back down. Flowers were in full bloom in August! There were a lot of people at Ice lake and not as many at Island lake. I recommend doing both as I almost didn't. That would have been a shame. One caution, there is a steep climbing part on the ledge to get over to island lake. I was amazed that my dog was able to do this. Definitely a scary moment.

hiking
9 months ago

You must hit both Ice Lake and Island Lake (at least - there's a few other small ones) from the Ice Lakes Trail. More detailed review on Ice Lake Basin Trail. It's a two-for-one and both are top notch.

hiking
9 months ago

Absolutely spectacular hike, my husband said it's his favorite we've done in Colorado so far (been living/hiking here for 3 years now). The junctions of this trail are not marked at all, so do your homework ahead of time so you know where you want to go. Also, be sure you have enough water and can do the amount of elevation required for this hike - we saw a lot of people struggling up late in the day without enough water. Also, some people have noted needing water shoes/etc to cross creeks, when we hiked on 8/16 this was not necessary at all, scout up and down the steam a little to find a good crossing where you can hop on rocks, and you should be fine in standard hiking boots - we didn't have wet feet. We took a left at the junction in the lower basin meadow to get to Ice Lake first, then you'll see a trail leading up an incline that takes you to Island Lake, about 0.5 miles away I believe. You can make a loop from there that I think is a bit shorter, but we decided to come back that way we came as I was unsure since nothing was marked and our hike up was so beautiful. The section from Ice Lake to Island Lake is short, but one section along a shelf was definitely outside of my comfort zone as a hiker. Required very careful footing on loose/slanted ground, and some slight climbing over rock. It was a short section so I did it, but I didn't like it! Be safe. Island Lake is TOTALLY worth it if you feel you can/want to do that slightly frightening sloped section. Particularly loved this hike as not only is the destination (lakes) beautiful, the entire hike is gorgeous, particularly the meadow section and then looking back down on the valley as you climb up. Absolutely stunning.

hiking
9 months ago

Just stunning! The whole hike is breathtaking...hands down the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done. From waterfalls to rivers, valleys of wildflowers, snow capped mountains, you name it, this hike has it all! The elevation gain is pretty brutal, especially if you’re not accustomed to the thinner air (we’re from Georgia), so make sure to pace yourself and bring plenty of water and snacks (and bugspray!!!). I went through over a liter and a half of water and still ran out. Took us about 2.5 hrs to reach the first lake. Make sure to budget time to relax at the lakes! After going up to island lake and all the way back to trailhead, my watch marked 9.4 miles

hiking
9 months ago

Nice to hike from Ice Lake over to Island Lake. Steeper than in look.

hiking
9 months ago

AMAAAAAZING trail. The flowers are beautiful and so is the lake. Definitely recommend going to Island lake as well, ridiculous blue color over there. Definitely a harder hike so be careful. We camped while we were there too and it was a great time but cold at night still. Still an amazing hike.

hiking
9 months ago

great trail, challenging in places but worth it.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

Just to pile on - simply incredible. Flowers, views and the lakes! Beat hike ever. I did this as part of the loop over to island lake. The only knock I’ll give is that this particular path is very rocky in spots. Totally navigable but I prefer the trail that goes straight up to island lake.

hiking
bridge out
snow
9 months ago

This trail has a ton of elevation gain and some harsh switchbacks but is well worth the effort, like something from a dream. Absolutely incredible! There are a few spots you'll need to cross creeks that are running pretty high right now, up to mid calf, so be prepared to get your feet wet. Avalanche debris is mostly cleared from the trail.

hiking
rocky
snow
10 months ago

Sunday, 7/28/19. We did the loop starting on the road to Clear Lake. The waterfall crossing was a little sketchy, you’ll want poles and gaiters. I’d brought keens for the river crossing in the basin but didn’t think I needed them here. I was wrong, water filled the boot closest to the fall. As mentioned by others the water in the valley below Ice Lake is flowing heavily, beautiful, but the river is high so be prepared. We reached Ice Lake in about 2 hours and then headed up to Island Lake. We’ve never made it up there before as we’re usually chased off by thunderstorms. It is stunning! Today there were snow patches, but easily managed. Flowers along the entire trail were beautiful. We came down from the back of Island Lake-much preferred to the out & back to Ice Lake we’ve typically do. Do this hike, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most incredible scenery anywhere!.

hiking
10 months ago

By far my favorite trail in the San Juans. Got up to island lake as well this time around. Definitely worth the extra walk! The beginning of the trail is muddier than usual due to high volume of snow melt and an avalanche near the beginning of the trail.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked 7/21. Breathtaking views the entire way up. A few stream/river crossings with the deepest one being about 10 inches, so be prepared to hike to wet boots or bring a back up. Took 2.5 hours from trailhead to Ice Lake and then another 20 minutes over to Island Lake. Both lakes are still frozen but are starting to thaw around the edges. I think they will both be fully thawed by late August. There are a few snow fields at the top but totally doable without poles. I wore hiking boots and had zero issues. This hike is the most beautiful one I have ever done with endless wildflowers, waterfalls and stunning views. I would highly recommend.

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