Explore the most popular walking trails near Silverton with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

AMAZING!!!!

Go early, trail gets crowded. Beautiful wildflowers.

backpacking
2 days ago

Did this hike and overnighter backpacking trip July 14-15, 2018. We had previously done this hike May 2013 and the ground still had some snowy patches that made it difficult to find the last steep part of the trail past the lower basin (if we had GPS, we would have found it just fine). Did it again July 2014 and made it to Ice Lake, but didn't do the full loop due to a storm with hail. This time we did the full loop to visit all three of the big lakes and it was MUCH more crowded than it used to be only a few years ago.

We started our hike at 7am and there were already several cars at the trailhead. We arrived at the lower basin shortly before 9am and that was with only one quick 5-min water/snack break. Set up camp in the lower basin before we continued on with our day packs. Weather forecast for the weekend was predicting a decent chance of rain all weekend and we've been up in these mountains several times with storms that produce small hail, so we didn't want to camp or set up our tent in such exposed weather by the lakes (but other braver people did).

As far as setting up camp in the lower basin, I would highly recommend venturing out far left (south) of the main trail. It's difficult to follow the rules and set up camp 100 feet from lakes and streams because it seems like there are streams all around in the lower basin (and where there aren't streams and the ground is flat, it seems like there is thick vegetation), but if we hadn't been as hasty to find a spot and hiked further away from the main trail, I think we would have been able to follow the rules properly, so we regret that. I also regret setting up camp so close to the trail as I didn't realize (as a girl) was that if you don't set up camp away from others, it's extremely difficult to find a private spot to pee. There were campers above us, below us, and beside us, in addition to people hiking through the basin that had a great view of the campers like us that didn't venture out further. Du-oh!

The hikes to the other two lakes, Fuller and Island don't compare at all to Ice Lake. In fact, there are several tiny lakes near all of the main lakes, but none of the smaller ones are clear or blue at all. It was cool to see the other main lakes just once, but if we went back, I would definitely spend more time at Ice Lake. Indeed, the other two main lakes are much more quiet though, if you are looking for solitude. We hiked up to Fuller Lake after Ice Lake and Fuller was not blue at all, but it had a really awesome waterfall shortly before it, along with several beautiful marshy streams on the easy trail up. After Fuller Lake, we backtracked to Ice Lake and hiked up to Island Lake (which was a steeper trek than Fuller) and Island Lake is only somewhat blue (mainly green-ish). There is a very obvious and steep trail up to the peaks above Island Lake, which would give a pretty awesome view of Island Lake if you were up for the extra trek; but again, we were worried about storms coming in and missed out on this cool option.

If you do the full loop trail and choose to keep going past Island Lake instead of going back the way you came from Ice Lake, this will be a good short cut if you're headed back down to the trail head, but if you're headed back to the lower basin for camping, you'll end up adding a tiny bit of extra mileage to get back to the main trail (but the part it spits you out at on the main trail is the part where it starts to get flat leading up to the lower basin, so you at least don't have to worry so much about trekking uphill again). We took the trail past Island Lake to get back to the lower basin and appreciated that it was much quieter and there were some cool views of the peaks in the distance. Some reviews said this trail was much steeper, so I had envisioned having to scramble down the trail, but that wasn't the case at all. It didn't feel any steeper than other uphill parts of the trail.

hiking
3 days ago

If you do one trail while you're in the San Juans, this should be it. 2WD accessible trailheads are hard to come by here! Wish we had known about the loop, but our guide book was old so it didn't include that option. Island Lake is breathtaking. The altitude and gain make this a difficult hike but there is only one small scramble section up to Island. Trail easy to navigate.

Amazing hike! We went in mid July and wildflowers were in peak bloom. This hike has it all....wildflowers, Mountain View’s, and amazing alpine lakes. This hike is a must. I would recommend going early or going on a weekday to avoid crowds. Several great spots to camp of you wanted to turn it into an overnight trip. I would say this hike is moderate and not hard. Easy switchbacks the whole way up.

Hiked to the first three lakes. Gorgeous scenery. The weather was a little iffy on the hike because the monsoon season hit, thankful for it as the fire danger was high in the area. People were fishing. Camping along the trail. Every view was amazing.

An okay hike for this area, I would just say this is normal Colorado beautiful hike, not a San Juan’s beautiful hike. A few hot tips:

1. Wear waterproof boots as this trail has several creek crossings and was pretty wet (during monsoon season).
2. The directions app will stop you short of the trail head. As long as you have a 4x4 or AWD keep driving up the road. There is a shallow creek to cross. If you don’t want to cross it, there is parking on the other side of the creek crossing.
3. There are reviews that this trail can be hard to find in places. Check your GPS tracking often to make sure you don’t accidentally go off trail up to the lakes. There is one boulder field where I could not find a trail but found it on the other side.
4. Once you pass Highland Mary’s 3rd lake, the trail is actual pretty good except in one spot. The trail map suggest you walk to the 4th lake, walk along the edge and then hike up. This is wrong. Go to the 4th lake (as it’s really nice and worth the effort) and then go back where you came from to hike towards the CDT. This part of the trail is marked by large wood poles. When you are hiking towards the 4th lake you will see a large wood pole to your left and one that leads you to the 4th lake. You want to come back to this spot to hike on the path to the pole on the hill. From this area, the trail is well marked and traveled. I personally didn’t do this and just hiked up the gully to get back on the trail.
5. You will come to a sign towards the end of the hike to go back to Highland Mary TH or go to Cumberland Gulch. Despite logic go to Cumberland Gulch to do the full loop. Either way you will make it back to the TH.

Drove 2 1/2 hours to hike this trail a few days ago at 8 months pregnant. It was challenging but so worth it. We had some rain on the way up, but it passed and the view of Ice Lake and the majestic blue water did not disappoint. My husband and I had lunch at the lake and did not want to leave! If you can make it to the top, the hike back down is significantly faster and easier. It’s a must do!

This hike is absolutely fabulous. It is incredibly steep getting up to mile 2 - by far the toughest stretch of trail we hiked on our visit to the area. But once you get past mile 2 and the short distance through the saddle, the trail is flat and the views are raw beauty - the Rockies at their best. The lake color is spectacular. We enjoyed this more than the Ice Lake trail (which was also great).

A tip that we figured out the hard way: The road to the trailhead is a narrow “4x4 only” road. If you dare drive up the road anyhow, there is only room for 2 cars along the side - and if those spots are taken, there is not a good place to turn around. The easiest thing to do is park at the bottom of 679 after you cross the one lane bridge (by the camp sites), then hike up the road to the trail. The trail itself is 6.4 miles - adding the hike up the road made the total trip ~8.7 miles.

I had so much fun on this 3 day trip.. very good trail, rolling hills and climb.. both ways are good exercise but still easy/moderate. We had a lot of visitors like deer, birds, chipmunks, etc. I highly recommend this trail for a day hike, or backpack, or even to get someone hooked to the outdoors, because the views are breathtaking and the rewards are high.

We only went 3 miles up and back down, but it was so beautiful!!! Lots of wildflowers and beautiful views of the mountains !

I love taking photos of my experiences and this was the hike of all hike to do just that. Note 1: when you get to the first water crossing don’t head up the river and bear crawl your way forward. Cross the river at the bottom. The obvious trail switch backs nicely to the top of the waterfall. From here it’s switch backs all the way to a beautiful meadow that leads to the final push of switchbacks. Once you get to the top and see Ice Lake, don’t stop there. Keep on the trail that continues to wind up. There’s another beautiful lake a bit higher that will offer amazing viewpoints down on Ice. There’s an old structure up there too along with a picnic table to have lunch. And since most hikers just stop at Ice to rest you’ll have this area all to yourself. After lunch and as you make your way back down to enjoy Ice Lake your eyes will be amazed all the way down to it. From here head to Island Lake. The emerald contrast to the blue you just experienced won’t be disappointing. Note 2: Keep heading around the Island Lake and keep an eye out for a faint trail that will loop back down to the trail you hiked up making your journey a loop. It’s a bit steeper going down this way but well worth the views and perspective of what your accent to Ice was like is very cool. See photos @jeanpaul574

Did this loop on the 4th of July took the left on the Continental Divide Trail and set up a tent in the meadows about 1.5 miles up. Woke up and took Whitehead Trail back onto the Highland Mary Lakes trail.
It’s a beautiful hike featuring a waterfall and lots of gorgeous wildflowers

Such a beautiful hike!! We went up to Island Lake on the wildlife trail on the right side when you first get to the base- glad we did it that way because of the elevation drop into Ice Lakes. Dog was fine and there were plenty of places for him to get some mountain stream water

backpacking
9 days ago

Beautiful. Hike up to ice lake basin is steep but manageable. Camping in the lower basin is gorgeous- bring the bug spray!! Lots of mosquitos! Was there 8-10 July 2018. Lots of day hikers- not the place to go for solitude, but the crowd does thin out quite a bit if you venture on past Ice Lake to Fuller Lake/Island Lake. Coming back to attack the basin 13ers next year- didn’t see or hear of one person attempting while we were there. A CO must hike!

Unreal hike! The bit of the hike past the meadows is tough, but once you reach the lake you won't regret a thing. I continued upward to Island Lake - definitely worth the additional trek once you're there.

Great hike! Beautiful lake! Take lots of water and snacks so you can enjoy the day there.

One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done.

hiking
12 days ago

What an amazing hike! Wildflowers at every turn, two lakes, waterfalls, and some amazing views. I would also suggest to hike the small trail up to island Lake after you get to Ice Lake. I am from Texas and this hike kicked my butt, but it was so worth it. There was quite a bit of smoke also due to the fire out side of Durango. I can not recommend this trail enough!

hiking
12 days ago

I hked this trail on 6-30-2018. It was challenging, but oh-so-worth it. Wildflowers were in bloom in late June. Here are a few tips and observations: We started early, when it was still cool. The trail was getting hot when we came down that afternoon. I'm 57, weigh 170 lbs and don't work out. I made it to the top, but the headwall is a tough, rocky slog. The lake was blindingly blue. It was cold and windy at the top, but we only stayed about 30 minutes and didn't need a windbreaker. Some landmarks: there is actually a small forest and small meadow (together about 1.5 miles). Then comes the big (Steep) forest and the amazing meadow, also about 1.5 miles. The final mile or so consists of switchbacks up the headwall. Consider taking a small O2 bottle of Boost if not in really good shape (like me).

hiking
14 days ago

I did this with a friend on July 2nd. It was AMAZING! It was very challenging for us in places but so worth it when you reach the lake. We are both 54 and from Missouri. We have done some hard rated trails in Arkansas but this was hard. It took us about 8 hours to complete. Just take plenty of water and snacks. I would also highly recommend trekking poles. Hope to do this one again.

This is absolutely amazing! 10/10. Killer. Do the lower, the upper and then don’t miss Island Lake and return via trail behind island lake.

Incredibly beautiful. Definitely steep but worth the climb

The drive and scenery to the trailhead is just as good as the hike. A lot of waterfalls off the sides of the mountains. We started the hike and stayed on the trail for the most part, until we arrived at the rock slide area. We saw the trail on the other side, but had no way to get to the trail. We ended up rock hopping over to the trail. Made it to Lake Mary and the dogs swam for a bit. Found another way around the rock slide area and made it out of there. It is a very scenic hike with the stream. The higher you go, the better the scenery is. Highly recommended. Lots of loose rocks on trail, first hike I did with new boots. Tripped a few times or maybe just getting too old. Yeah, it was the boots.

I hiked this trail 3 days ago. Be sure to cross the first waterfall at the bottom, otherwise you will bear crawl to the top! I am 55 and in decent shape, it took about 7 hours with lots of breaks due to the elevation ( I live at sea level. Trekking poles are a must along with bug spray. Definitely a hike worth doing! No regrets.

AMAZING!

hiking
18 days ago

Great hike, I didn’t find it as difficult as many made it out to be; did it with ease in just running shoes and no other gear (granted I’m 22 and in the military). Water crossings at this point in the season (late June) are really low and very simple. I highly recommend going to the left on the way up to ice lake and continuing on to Fuller lake. On the way back down it is worth the trek over to Island Lake. You won’t want to do it because it does require about another 300-400ft elevation gain but the views from that gain looking back on Ice Lake and the stop at Island Lake is totally worth it! Wouldn’t want to take this path on the way up as it is definitely much steeper.

Great hike with amazing views of several waterfalls. Pretty strenuous as it was a steady incline almost the entire way.

Awesome hike and perfect weather. Multiple waterfalls along the way. Great views the entire way up.

hiking
19 days ago

This hike was incredible. The lake and views of the surrounding peaks were amazing. Started out very steep and the first section full of switchbacks was a bit of a challenge, but gets easier after that.
There’s very little snow up there right now-easy enough to cross in hiking boots, and the wild flowers are blooming! Made it up in a little less than 2 hours and made it down in an hour and a half. Wish I had trekking poles a few times on the way back down.

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