ICE LAKES BASIN
*Ice Lakes is currently closed and not expected to open until September 2021 due to wildfires in October 2020.
My hike @ Ice Lakes
Ice Lakes is hands-down one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on!
Ice Lakes basin had been on my checklist for a few years and in 2020 I booked a week at Ridgway State Park (a lovely state park with lots of amenities) so that I could hike to Ice and Blue lakes. Ice Lakes is near Silverton and a very popular place to hike; you will need to get to the trailhead early! There is a lot of dispersed camping along the road and a small campground at the trailhead (no reservations.) I was leaving my car about 30 minutes before sunrise and there were plenty of other hikers already.
I hiked the entire 9.5 mile loop counterclockwise. Not sure if this was the best decision and it seems that a lot of people were just hiking up to the main lake and back, without stopping to see Island Lake. The wildflowers were absolutely beautiful as I hiked up to Island Lake, but this trail was challenging! 3300’ elevation gain over three miles is no joke!
The wildflowers were at peak and completely amazing at every turn. Paintbrush, columbines, and a whole bunch of other flowers I don’t know the names of but love to take pictures of. The trail from Island to Ice Lake is really pretty, but there are a few tricky parts as it is a shelf trail and not very wide in some places. Columbines filled the hillside above the trail as I descended towards Ice Lakes.
Crowds were everywhere around Ice Lake, but it isn’t hard to understand why when the sun shines on the lake and it turns turquoise from the mineral content! Don’t just stop at the lake and take a few pictures; you can walk along the edge of the lake from one end to the other and I found the scenery to be delicious in every way.
Even if you are tired, you should hike to the upper lakes. There are some old cabins and the small pools, while not as blue as Ice Lake, are pretty and reflect the flowers and peaks nicely. I descended back the way many people climb up and the trail was steep. Hiking poles are recommended! I was really getting tired by the time I finally returned to the fork in the trail and realized that I had two miles left. But it was worth every second that I sweated up that mountain!