Ice Lake Trail is one of the most recommended hikes in the area for several reasons, one of them being the absolutely stunning scenery you encounter from the moment you take a left off the highway to work your way back to the trailhead. The drive alone is worth doing if your not up for a very steep climb halfway up a mountain. But for those willing to put in the work, the rewards are unbeatable.
Distance to Ice Lake is 3.5 miles (7 miles round trip)
9,840-ft. at Trailhead
12,270-ft. at Ice Lake (+2,430 feet)
12,392-ft. at Island Lake (+122 feet from Ice Lake)
You need to be in excellent physical condition to attempt this hike due to the high altitude and steep inclines.
As you can see, this is no easy climb, but check out that view from the top!
One of the added bonuses to the Ice Lake trail is that it’s well traveled. Many of the hikes around Silverton can be very hard to find and stay on without getting lost on the endless dead end spurs that lead to nowhere. Meanwhile, you may not see anyone for days if your lost or injured. Ice Lake Trail, on the other hand, is well marked and will often have a dozen or two people hiking it on any given day. So it won’t be crowded by any means, but you will see people which can be a big benefit if you get into any kind of trouble as cell coverage is not available in this area.
The trailhead is located at the end of South Mineral Creek Road and almost instantly starts off into a series of switchbacks through strands of mossy pine and abundant wildflowers. If you just want a taste of the trail you can hike up a quarter mile or so where you’ll come across an amazing waterfall which many hikers will use for their first rest stop. Further up you’ll encounter stunning canyons with roaring waterfalls, old mining camps, high alpine meadows with wildflowers so thick you almost have to cut your way through them, and some of the bluest waters you’ll find outside the Caribbean as you climb higher and higher through the ever changing landscapes.
All this is sure to make you HUNGRY, so as you work up an appetite on the mountain just remember that we’ve got you covered back in town. I often find myself focused so hard on pizza and beer as I work my way back to the car that I’ll even do a little ‘left foot beer, right foot pizza’ chant as I march along. Once I get my head around that chant it just won’t go away.
Once you reach the lake, the journey has only begun. While the trail is named ‘Ice Lake’, the real treat is just a few hundred yards around the next ridgeline. Island lake will make you want to hike up a canoe and camping gear the next time you come out so you can sleep on this amazing little oasis. It is truly one of the most stunning lakes in the area and only a short distance past Ice Lake. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the set of The Lord of the Rings and at any moment a prehistoric dragon might swoop in for a landing. It is truly a sight to behold and well worth the extra effort.
We know you’ll have a great time exploring this area and hope to see you when you come off the mountain. Remember to prepare for drastically changing weather conditions and to bring lots of extra food and water, sun and bug spray, first aid kits and all the other necessities. This is not a day hike in a National Park like zion or Yosemite. This is the real backcountry and you are mostly on your own when you venture into Ice Lake Trail.
Note: This map is only to give you an idea of where the trail head is and in no way should be used to try and navigate the area. Good trail maps are available in town and are highly recommended for anyone traveling into the backcountry.