Ice Lake Hike – San Juan National Forest

We’re back in the San Juan mountain range; we just couldn’t help ourselves.  After checking out multiple hiking options this weekend we were drawn to the beauty of Ice Lake.

15 - Lake - 3

We heard this hike was popular, and when we arrived, to the forest road leading to the trailhead it was confirmed.  Compared to the last few trails we hit, this off-roading was cake; the campsites were plentiful and full.  While we like our seclusion it was a cool experience to camp around people as well.  Plus the site was gorgeous.

1 - Campground

It’s hard to imagine what a hike will be like  even with all the information available online.

We knew the Ice Lake Trail would be tough, but you don’t know till you know.  The trail turns out to be an almost continuous incline for the entire 2,250 foot 3.5 mile ascent.

Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothin’ (Braveheart quote)

2 - Hike Start - m c

Yes you need to cross this waterfall by either balance beaming on some suspect logs or choose to rock hop across hoping you don’t get a shoe full of water.

3 - Crossing Fall - fam

Not close

4 - Making way up - a c

We definitely had to have walked 3.5 miles by now – NOPE – still not close

5 - Making way up - m c

Ahh finally a little relief – a relatively flat section of the trail

6 - Meadow a c

Now start climbing again; you’re only halfway there

7 - Making way up - m c

Making progress

8 - Still MWU - m c

Made it – BOOM.  Wow! this was freaking tough.  The ascent was seemed to be an almost constant 70 degrees with some areas that you are literally climbing it’s so steep.

At this point you might be thinking that it wasn’t worth it with all that whining , but no, it was definitely worth it.

9 - Arrived

Of course, as our luck has it, crazy storm clouds start rolling over the peak almost immediately after we arrived.

10 - Clouds - a c

Well, after that hike we were sticking it out, and we were going to enjoy the lake damn it!

So we hunker down and get warm

11 - Keeping warm - m c

We even rode out a freaking hail storm.  Who cares.  It cleared up and we took a walk.

12 - Lake - 1 - a

Found the lakes water source – pretty awesome.

13 - Stream to lake

Enjoying the break in the clouds.

14 - Lake - 2 - m

15 - Lake - 3

16 - Lake - 4 - a

17 - Lake - 5 - a

18 - Lake - 6 - m

19 - Lake - Selfy

We came, we saw, but not conquered yet – we have another 3.5 miles and 2,550 feet down to go.

20 - Down - a c

21 - Down - 2

22 - Down - 3

We made it down by 3:30 right before the next storm hit.  We found a sweet secluded campsite that would have been awesome, but decided to drive the 3 hours back to Palisade.  No point in camping if you’re just stuck in the tent all night.

Challenging and tiring are two words that describe the actual hike, but nothing that’s REALLY worth it comes easy.  This hike was one of those REALLY worth it experiences.

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