Hike to Upper Ice Lake

Durango, Colorado

5.0/5
based on 5 reviews

Details

Distance

7.5 miles

Elevation Gain

2430 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Eric Schuette

Hike to one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Colorado -- and pass several waterfalls en route. For the adventurous, being able to swim in a stunning blue alpine lake makes for a great afternoon. During the summer the wildflower show is amazing!!

From the Ice Lakes trailhead begin hiking through a meadow that quickly enters the forest and begins to climb. The trail will climb ~1,600 feet in the next two miles. As the trail climbs there is a scenic waterfall just over .5 miles, it is worth it to scamper up for a closer look (at ~1.0 miles there you can get a nice vantage point from the top of the same falls). After the waterfall, the trail continues its steady-steep climb as it alternates between wildflower-filled meadows and forest.

After~2.3 miles the trail will begin to flatten as you enter lower ice lake basin. The basin has a wonderful wildflower display, a beautiful lake, and is a popular hiking and camping destination. However, you still have about a mile and just under 1,000 feet of elevation to go to reach the upper lake. As you walk through the basin you will see the final climb to the upper lake in front of you. A creek crossing and some steep switchbacks are now all that is left to upper basin.

As the trail begins to level out you will be entering an alpine wonderland!! The colors and shapes of the mountains, the color of the upper lake, and the wildflowers are all amazing on their own right. However, together they create one of the most beautiful and amazing destinations in all of Colorado. Be careful around the upper lake, as it is a fragile environment that needs to be treated with care.

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Features

Fitness
Photography
Running
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

Reviews

This is a nice but difficult hike. The altitude was really getting to me so I felt like it took forever to get to the top but it was absolutely worth it once there. Beautiful!!

Quite steep and hard to get a good breath of air at the top.Took it slow and enjoyed the flowers and waterfalls.Ice lake so cold but my dog went swimming and the colorado views were stunning!

This was a somewhat difficult trail but it has beautiful views the entire way. We immediately started laughing when we saw both lakes because they looked fake due to the water color. Unbelievable scenery. Highly recommend!

I have packed and hiked thousands of miles in the Rockies and sierra mountains. With that being said, this hike was probably the most beautiful all around Hike I have ever trekked! From the start it is somewhat challenging incline. The July show of wildflowers, waterfalls, rock formations and ultimately the high mountain aqua blue lake was an amazing climax. Take a suit with you and dive into a take your breath away crystal clear lake. Ice is right! I will definitely repeat this one. Not for the weak at heart. Take your time and enjoy the climb!

Wife, dog, and I hiked this stunning trail in mid-July. Seemed like the perfect time: no snow to cross, lots of water for the dog, wild flowers galore. We went on a Friday evening so trail traffic was non-existent. Based on the parking lot the next day - Sat/Sun is a different story. Make sure you push up the extra 1/2 mile to Island lake.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Backpack to Island Lake

Backpack the Ice Lakes Trail

Climb Fuller Peak

Camp at South Mineral Campground

Explore Clear Lake

Drive Ophir Pass