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    Ice Lake Basin Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    13.4 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    877 m
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    Directions to Trailhead
    Ice Lake Basin Hike

    The Ice Lake Basin Hike is a tough and rewarding trail in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado that will take you up into the mountains for alpine views. While out hiking the trail, you will work your way uphill through forest and alpine meadows, before arriving at the Ice Lakes and taking in theory stunning natural beauty. Hikers should take note that the parking lot fills up very quickly, especially during peak season, so make sure to arrive early to secure a space.

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    Route Description for Ice Lake Basin Hike

    While it may be an extremely popular hiking route, the Ice Lake Basin Hike is still a challenging adventure that will require experience hiking in higher altitudes, as there is a solid amount of elevation gain. Additionally, you will want to bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey. Lastly, be sure to follow leave no trace practices, as the increasing popularity of the route means that the ecosystem is under constant threat from pollution and overuse.

    Although you likely won’t have much solitude on this hike, the breathtaking alpine scenery and challenging trail make this an exceptional route that is worth experiencing. In addition to visiting the serene shores of several alpine lakes, you will also have the opportunity to explore some of the rugged mountain terrain and views that the San Juan Mountains are known for.

    Setting out from the parking area opposite the South Mineral Campground, you will follow the trail as it leads to the northwest and into the forest. From here, you will climb uphill for 1.2 km, crossing over the banks of Clear Creek before arriving at the stunning sight of Clear Creek Falls.

    After taking in the waterfall scenery, you will continue on to the west and climb uphill through a mixture of forests and meadows for 1.7 km, before arriving at a junction in the trail. Taking the path on the right, you will follow it for the next 2.3 km as it traverses the scenic terrain of the Lower Ice Lake Basin.

    Once you have pushed your way further uphill across alpine meadows and some rocky terrain, you will come to yet another fork in the trail at the edge of the Upper Ice Lake Basin. Heading to the left, you will pass by the turquoise shores of Ice Lake and continue on through the rugged alpine terrain to the southwest.

    Here, you will work your way further into the mountains, where you will eventually come to the shores of Fuller Lake after 1.2 km. Take some time after your lengthy uphill hike to experience the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountain Range, including the summits of Golden Horn, Vermillion Peak, and Fuller Peak to the southwest.

    After taking in the views and resting your legs for a few minutes, you will make your way back downhill past Ice Lake and into the Lower Basin. Continue along the same route and carefully make your way down the mountainside in order to return to the parking area, having completed the Ice Lake Basin Hike.

    Trail Highlights

    Ice Lakes Upper Basin

    Located in a high alpine setting near the town of Silverton, Colorado, the Ice Lakes Upper Basin features a series of alpine lakes with crystal clear water. The Ice, Clear, Fuller, and Island lakes are surrounded by a number of rugged peaks within the San Juan Mountain Range, making them a popular destination thanks to the fantastic hiking route to reach them and the breathtaking views. Because of this popularity, it is imperative to follow leave no trace practices in order to retain the pristine beauty of the landscape.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you swim in Ice Lake?

    While the water will be quite chilly, those on the adventurous side will be able to take a refreshing dip in the waters of Ice Lake.

    Are there fish in Ice Lake?

    Ice lake is one of the most beautiful and crystal clear lakes in all of Colorado, so much so that you can even see the fish navigate the chilly waters several meters below the surface.

    Insider Hints for Ice Lake Basin Hike

    • This is a popular hiking route, so be sure to arrive early to secure a parking space.
    • Wear proper hiking boots for this adventure.
    • Pair this hike with a fun weekend of camping nearby at the South Mineral Campground.

    Getting to the Ice Lake Basin Hike Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Ice Lakes Basin Hike can be found at the Ice Lakes Trailhead next to the South Mineral Campground on Forest Service Road 585.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      South Mineral Campground

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Ice Lake Basin Hike Elevation Graph

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    Ice Lake Basin Hike Reviews

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