Perfect for dayhikers and backpackers alike, this 7.6-mile out-and-back in the San Juans features alpine tarns, waterfalls, and views of ragged peaks. Come early to fit this trek into a day, or spend the night and savor the scenery. From the dirt parking area across from the South Mineral Campground, head northwest to pick up the marked Ice Lake Trail.
The first 500 feet of trail winds through a meadow before entering cool conifer forest. Soon after entering the woods, the trail starts to climb. Cross the first creek at mile 0.5, then ascend a handful of switchbacks to a short spur that leads to a small waterfall. Watch your footing: There's a steep drop-off on the right.
From here, the route winds to the west toward Lower Ice Lake Basin, passing mining remnants, potential campsites, and views of another waterfall. After 2.3 miles, the trail enters Lower Ice Lake Basin and continues west; grab a bite to eat on a massive trailside boulder with views of the surrounding peaks.
A half a mile later, the final climb to Ice Lake begins. Cross a creek, then follow the rocky trail up and out of the lower basin to the grassy banks of Ice Lake. Drop your pack and spend some time at this stunningly blue tarn surrounded by stark and jagged peaks. Next, follow the upper path to a second smaller lake that sits just south of Ice Lake. Follow the same route back the trailhead.
-Mapped by Kim Phillips
- Distance: 12.2
Location: 37.806512, -107.773474
From the dirt parking area, hike northwest to Ice Lake Trail.
Location: 37.806715, -107.774034
The marked Ice Lake Trail starts on the west edge of the parking area. Follow the narrow dirt path through a meadow, then into the forest.
Location: 37.810521, -107.778432
Although the trail appears to continue straight ahead, turn left and rock hop across the creek. Pick up the trail on the other side.
Location: 37.811725, -107.778336
At this switchback, continue straight on a short spur trail for views of a small waterfall. Watch your footing: There's a steep drop-off on the right.
Location: 37.812657, -107.782874
Turn left on a short spur to check out the remains of an old mining structure.
Location: 37.812412, -107.782756
The remnants of an old mine are hidden in the trees.
Location: 37.812369, -107.785015
A short spur on the left leads to views of another waterfall.
Location: 37.812502, -107.792783
Pass a small campsite on the left-hand side of the trail.
Location: 37.812606, -107.793108
This massive trailside boulder is a good spot to grab a bite to eat.
Location: 37.811742, -107.798892
A faint trail on the left leads to a campsite.
Location: 37.811818, -107.801414
Cross a creek, then begin the ascent out of the Lower Ice Lake Basin.
Location: 37.809299, -107.803949
Keep right where a faint trail veers off to the left.
Location: 37.813094, -107.807853
Ice Lake: This stunningly blue alpine lake sits at 12,257 feet in a stark basin. Next, follow the upper path to a second lake.
Location: 37.811479, -107.810662
This smaller, unnamed lake sits just south of Ice Lake and is surrounded by jagged peaks. Turn around and retrace your route back the trailhead.
Lower Ice Lake Basin
Location: 37.812234, -107.798216
Ice Lake Trailhead
Location: 37.806715, -107.773916
Ice Lake Trail
Location: 37.806893, -107.774553
Location: 37.807885, -107.776866
Location: 37.809419, -107.777928
Location: 37.810785, -107.778744
Location: 37.811708, -107.778164
Location: 37.811666, -107.777821
Location: 37.812522, -107.781694
Location: 37.812844, -107.783818
Ice Lake Trail
Location: 37.812395, -107.78517
Views to the North
Location: 37.812242, -107.789633
Nearing Lower Ice Lake Basin
Location: 37.812073, -107.790073
Trail through Lower Ice Lake Basin
Location: 37.812098, -107.798442
Location: 37.811657, -107.80003
Lower Ice Lake Basin
Location: 37.811649, -107.800448
Ascent to Ice Lake
Location: 37.810318, -107.802658
Location: 37.813149, -107.805748
Location: 37.813115, -107.807733
Location: 37.812351, -107.808524
Location: 37.811403, -107.809514