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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Seven Days In Fall: Day 5, New Route to Ice and Island Lakes

Ice Lake is fast becoming one of the most popular hikes in Southwest Colorado. It's no surprise to us, we continue to go there every year to gaze spellbound into Ice Lake, one of the bluest lakes we've ever rested eyes on. As dazzling as Ice Lake's sky-blue water is, it's the ragged, rustic, iron-bleeding cirque setting that sets it apart from the likes of, say, Columbine Lake. 
As if that wasn't enough, add another half mile to your hike to experience the aqua-green Island Lake. Its setting is rustic as well, but much more intimate, where mighty peaks seemingly jut skyward from its tundra shoreline. 

The standard route is an out-and-back hike on the main trail, arriving first to Ice Lake, then proceeding on up to Island Lake. But there is an unsigned trail that departs the main trail about halfway to Ice Lake, and it's rumored to be a backdoor route to Island Lake. 

Before leaving I brought up Google Earth and zoomed in. Sure enough, all the way from a satellite in outer space, I could see the trail cutting steeply up the mountainside to Island Lake. Though steeper, it allowed for some "new dots" and make a "lollipop" loop-hike to one of our favorite destinations. 

Another plus?  We had it all to ourselves.

Almost there...

Next time we will take that trail up to the ridge line...just to see what we can see :)

Island Lake's aqua-green water

Ice Lake's sky-blue water. Hike a mile to the south and Fuller Lake awaits your rod and fly, as it teems with trout!


  1. Lovely photos as always. The one time I did that hike in 2018 I took the lollipop you described, to Island Lake first, then descending to Ice Lake just as a thunderstorm was closing in. (I'd love to see that blue in full sunshine someday.)

    That trail to the ridge is Grant Swamp Pass. It's part of the famous Hardrock 100 course, descending from the pass to Chapman Gulch, just beyond Ophir. I went up there during my hike and decided the descent is not for the faint of heart, and didn't try it. It's a steep scree slope, and looked loose and chundery ... right up your alley. :)

    1. Uh oh, I think you just set up another daunting challenge for Mark and Bobbie :( And I agree, Mark's photos are so visually delicious! and if it wasn't for the people in those photos and knowing so much about them all, it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable.

  2. You guys were really on the go while we were there and the weather sure co operated , we were hoping for some snow that week but in hindsight Im glad that snow held off . Caleb & Kelli got to make a beautiful memory on their 3rd anniversary, I have a feeling they are going to experience many more in those mountains .

    We understand there is a forrest fire in the Cimarrons around Owl Crk Pass today and the Sneffels range got that beautiful dusting of snow those photographers are always waiting for.

    We are in the throws of Indian Summer here in N. Calif, but anxiously awaiting our 1st big rain of the season and put an end to this wild fire threat.



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