Backpacking Ice Lakes Basin Outside Silverton
I had read a bunch of articles about hiking and backpacking Ice Lakes Basin outside of Silverton, Colorado. I kept hearing how it’s arguably one of the most scenic and iconic areas of Colorado and I found it consistently listed on subjective “Best Hikes” or “Top Backpacking” lists.
We didn’t exactly get an early start out of Ouray; a few too many beers by the campfire the night before ensuring that. A quick swing by a friends house in Silverton for some gear and we were on the trail by the crack of 1 (p.m.). And we totally cheating, cutting off a half mile of the hike by jeeping up a switchback and starting on a spur trail. But we weren’t in a rush – it was only 2.5 miles in and we had our overnight gear and were amp’d to spend the night next to Ice Lake.
It is not a mellow trail; Short, but steep. Plus, being my first backpacking trip of the season, I wasn’t exactly tuned in to having 45 pounds on my back. After working our way up the first set up switchbacks through the woods, we sat hunkered down under some trees getting pelted with hail, debating about turning back as the thunder got closer and closer. But after fifteen minutes, the sleet let up in to a drizzle, the thunder became distant, and just as we entered in to the lower basin, the sun burst through the clouds.
If you don’t like the weather in Colorado, just wait ten minutes…
The lower basin was spectacular – vivid wildflowers popping and glistening against the green skunk grass, granite walls towering on three sides, and raging waterfalls pouring down the cliffs into the drainage.
The upper basin was… even more spectacular – a vivid blue Ice Lake that is fed and drained by crystal clear streams, surrounded by several jagged 13ers, including Vermillion Peak, the Golden Horn, Ulysses S. Grant Peak and Pilot Knob.
In those articles I had read, a lot of people talked about how they try to make Ice Lakes Basin an annual trip. I’ll now include myself on those annual trips…