Island Lake Via Ice Lakes Trail

HARD 52 reviews
#2 of 101 trails in

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 but must be kept on leash.

6.9 miles
2,670 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


rock climbing





wild flowers




1 month ago

This remains one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes I’ve completed in Colorado. The incline to Ice Lakes is strenuous and steep but with plenty of shade. The wildflowers and lakes at the top are utterly stunning. Island Lake glows turquoise in sun or shade and is unfailingly photogenic. I can’t wait to go back.

4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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!

5 months ago

We started at 6:30 a.m. Beautiful weather and not a lot of other people. This is the prime time to hike this trail with the autumn colors coming in.

5 months ago

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.

5 months ago

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 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)

6 months ago

Excellent hike. Upper Ice Lake Basin is just stunning. Wildflowers are past their peak, but still very pretty. Went on from Ice Lake to Island Lake, which was worth the extra effort, though not quite as beautiful as Ice Lake.

6 months ago

Well worth the trip from ice lake, a little challenging but worth it and fun!!

6 months ago

This is one of my most favorite hikes, ever. Once you get to Ice Lake (amazing), Island Lake is a short but very steep journey over the ridge. The trail to Ice Lake is pretty straightforward (and steep) but to Island Lake there is some scrambling. It was extremely windy and quite cold in the basin around both lakes, even though the rest of the trail was warm.

AllTrails says "moderate" but I would rate this as difficult, ESPECIALLY if you are from lower elevations.

I started at 8am on Wednesday in August and had the trail almost to myself. While I enjoyed the view from the top, hordes of people were on their way up. This trail is popular for good reason.

8 months ago

Possibly one of my most favorite hikes. There was snow right near the top but with crampons it wasnt that bad. Snow shoes are def not needed right now. I would recommend using a GPS as there were not enough tracks going to Island Lake to figure it out without the GPS. Both lower Ice and Island lake were still ice covered but you could see where it was trying to melt on the sides. Upper Ice Lake looked too hard to reach still. Really challenging but an incredible experience.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It was a bit tiring but me and my girlfriend rocked that hike like champs, the first lake was amazing and the views are beautiful, you don’t need much gear to get to this point but we ll definitely recommend hiking shoes and not be afraid of heights if you wanna continue the short trip to island lake, there are parts that are a bit scary for first timers.

We ll definitely go back

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Beautiful Hike! Definitely worth it

Saturday, September 16, 2017

After seeing the blue water of ice lake this water was a disappointing green..,still it was pretty cool with the backdrop of the snow on the mountains. If you hike to ice lake...make the extra distance to this lake as well. Part of the trail is close to the edge of drop off...a little scary!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We hiked to Island Lake over Labor Day weekend. The scenery was great, but we liked Ice and Fuller Lakes better out of the 3 lakes. Giving this hike only 3 stars because of the condition of the trail to Island Lake. The trail was sketchy in a few places. I am afraid of heights and exposure, and there were 2 sections that really scared me. One was rocky, which required some scrambling, and the other one was a steep gravel slide path. We had forgotten to bring daypacks, so we had to maneuver around with our backpacking packs (although they were mostly empty, it was quite awkward). Very glad we had trekking poles!
There weren't as many flowers around this lake as there were around Ice and Fuller Lakes. You have to get creative going to the bathroom since it's above treeline. The water is much greener, and the island is neat. One guy swam across to the island, and his dog followed him. Brrrrrrr!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Really tough hike. Amazing views at the top

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Great Hike and totally beautiful. Make sure when you come to the first creek crossing towards the beginning you follow the sign to ice lake trail. The trail continues just to the left of the creek once you cross. The map in alltrails seemed to lead a different way that is now blocked off by some fallen trees.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

This is confusing to me. Maybe I missed a part where you are supposed to cut over trails to just Island Lake, but we made it up to Ice Lake first (which was amazing), and then got on a steep path up to Island Lake from there (which only took about 15 mins), so I don't know where this 7 mile timeframe comes from or where the base for that would begin. Besides that it was absolutely incredible! Didn't stay for long because the wind picked up a lot and it begin to lightly snow/drizzle. Very green water compared to Ice Lake. Super cool!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My favorite hike so far! I took the faint trail up to Island lake first before cutting over to Ice lake. Much less crowded and didn't see a single person until I reached the lake. Also I found a really nice knife sitting on a rock above Island lake if anyone is missing it! Would be happy to send to you if you can identify it. (Found August 10th)
Take plenty of water and snacks for this hike as it is tough with lots of elevation gain. Worth every second!! Start early. Parking lot was about half full at 7:45am on a Thursday in early August.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

This is a beautiful, strenuous hike. There's plenty of shade and tree cover for the first half of the hike as well as streams for your dog to have a drink. Once above tree line you spend a decent stretch of trail walking through fields of wildflowers which grow more magnificent once you take the fork to Island Lake. The elevation gain makes for a great workout. Keep an eye out for marmots (I counted almost a dozen) and consider hiking poles for the steep descent and multiple stream crossings.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Moderately difficult, but incredibly beautiful hike and seeing Ice and Island lakes makes the trip well worth the effort. Went in early July and did experience a sudden, but short rain/hail storm that dropped the temperature dramatically. Thankfully that passed quickly and the rest of trip was fantastic.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Amazing! Ice is melted, still a few snowy patches, but easy to find the trail again.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Possibly one of the most beautiful, but challenging hikes I have done in Colorado! 7.3 miles seems like an underestimate as my fit bit read around 11 after going from ice lake to island lake and back down. Right now the flowers are all out and there are only a few snow patches that require crossing, but note there are a few large stream crossings that may get your feet soaked! Overall, it was totally worth it!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

One of my favorite places to hike to. The lakes are gorgeous!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gorgeous views and a fantastic hike. Just make sure to get a good weather report before heading out. When we went in early June, we could not reach the top due to snow completely blocking one of the tighter portions of the trail.

Friday, June 02, 2017

This trail was incredibly packed over Labor Day weekend last year (2016). We backpacked in, and ended up camping at the Ice Lake Basin. We woke up, finished the hike to the top of Ice and Island Lakes and then came back down, packed up and trekked back down.

I gave it four stars purely for the extensive foot traffic, but it was one of the more gorgeous hikes I think I have ever done (to be fair I haven't spent much time in San Juan National Forest area, but I can't wait to go back).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

amazing trail!!

5 months ago

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