“A consistent uphill trail that leads directly to the gorgeous Ice Lake”
— Paul Savin
Features: Lake — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers
The grade is certainly runnable, but you'll want to bring your power legs, as the consistent uphill with burn your quads!
To reach the trailhead, drive west from Silverton CO on Hwy 550 towards Red Mountain Pass. At 2 miles turn left where signs indicate the South Mineral campground and County Road 7. Follow the well maintained dirt road for just over 4 miles where you'll see the campground on your left and a large parking area on your right - park here. The trailhead is well signed at the end of the parking area and has a map of the area for your reference.
The trail starts on a very moderate grade as it switchbacks through a mix of dense pines and more open areas populated with aspen. The grade steepens as it crosses an open area after about 1 mile, lush flowers abound from late June to early August. The trail re-enters pines and remains fairly steep until around the 2 mile mark where you'll enter the lower of 2 basins at aprox. 11,400'. This area is renowned for it's flower displays - from mid-July to early August expect to travel through waist deep fields of corn lilly, delphinium, columbines and more. This basin is surrounded on 3 sides by sheer rock walls with multiple waterfalls draining the upper basins - there are several pleasant stream crossings while traversing the basin. After .5 - .75 miles of easy walking the trail steepens again as it heads up towards the upper Ice Lake basin and the terrain is rather more rocky. Pass through more fields of columbine, paintbrush and buttercups to the upper basin at 12,200'. Follow the trail across a flatter approach to Ice Lake and marvel at the deep blue-green color that changes as shadows cross the lake. 13er's surround the lake -
Fuller, Vermillion, Golden Horn and Pilot Knob. There are lots of options here - left and 300' higher in another .75 miles is Fuller Lake. A great choice is crossing the outflow stream from Ice Lake - there are several places to cross and an obvious trail heading back out of the basin to the left of where you entered - follow this path up another 250' and .5 mile to a smaller basin and the beautiful Island Lake at 12,400'. US Grant Peak backstops this spectacular scene - it's worth the extra effort.
Your return can either be back to Ice Lake and down - there's also a trail back to the lower basin that begins directly below Island Lake. Head down the pitch and stay to the left of the basin, you'll see the trail as you begin to cross back and forth over the outflow stream from Island Lake. This is easier walking than the rocky trail used to reach Ice Lake with very different views.
Flora & Fauna
The lake is a great place to witness Colorado's biodiversity, with many bird and animal species frequenting the lake. In the spring and early summer, pause to appreciate the various wildflowers along the way.