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Ice Lakes Trail: Beautiful Lakes and Waterfalls | Roadtrip USA (28)

On our wild camping spot in Silverton we enjoyed the beautiful nature and the babbling river right next to our camper for no less than 5 days. We had good (internet) reach here, so we could also work nicely on our website. Having a coffee here every morning while the sun is rising was really no punishment! But because we sit still a lot during our writing work, we also thought it was time to stretch our legs. We saw on Google Maps and Alltrails that there was a beautiful hike nearby that we could do. The Ice Lake Trail!


Plan your vacation to America here


Our journey through the United States and Canada

This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country.

Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.

When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.

More blogs from our trip through America and Canada

Find hikes in the region

AllTrails tells you which routes can be found in your area, how difficult a route is and how long it takes on average. Other people also share photos and reviews. Ice Lakes Trail is the most popular hike in the area and what a one!

The Ice Lakes Trailhead Information Board | Silverton Colorado
The Ice Lakes Trailhead Information Board | Silverton Colorado

About Ice Lakes Trailhead

You will ascend 900 meters during the walk, almost twice the height of the Empire State Building. During the walk the climb becomes more and more challenging. You start at an altitude of almost 3 kilometers and at the most you reach almost 4 kilometers.

The burnt forest

During the walk, you will always pass through different areas. We started in the forest, which turned into burnt forest. In 2021 there were severe wildfires here and as far as the eye could see there were burnt mountain slopes. It was honestly a depressing sight.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

Green meadows and flowers

We also passed rocks, waterfalls, streams and colorful flowers and plants. The green meadows and the many flowers were a nice change after all those banished trees a few hundred meters below.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

The Marmots

The marmots were busy too. They were chasing each other to chase each other (or mating?), or stood up to make their familiar high-pitched call. A bizarre sound comes from these critters. It gave the long walk a nice perk to look at.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

Waterfalls & Rivers

As far as you could see waterfalls could be admired, from large to small. Along the way we also had to cross a small river a few times. One of them was quite a big one and we couldn't avoid getting wet feet. We had to get through the icy melt water!

Crossing a river during the Ice Lakes Trail and waterfalls in the background | Silverton Colorado
Crossing a river during the Ice Lakes Trail and waterfalls in the background | Silverton Colorado

So we had to walk the last part with wet feet. But now our feet were so hot that a little cooling was actually quite nice. The cooling was short-lived, because we had warm feet again in no time due to the brisk walking.

We spent a lot of time looking down at the uneven ground and the loose rocks along the way, but every time you turned your head up a little and looked around you, your jaw dropped in amazement. What a beautiful environment. And those waterfalls everywhere!

Beautiful view during the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Beautiful view during the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Large and Small Waterfalls on the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Large and Small Waterfalls on the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

Climb, climb, climb

After more than 4 hours of walking you arrive at the last part and this part is definitely tough! The slope is suddenly very steep and as you walk over loose sand and stones, you really start to notice the lack of oxygen at this altitude. Small bits up, take a short break and continue on.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

That last part took us about an hour, which is perhaps only 500 meters in total… Fortunately, the end was in sight. The trail flattened out and we arrived at the plateau of the mountain. It's as if nature wanted to welcome us, because suddenly the sun came out again!

The plateau on the mountains during the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
The plateau on the mountains during the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

Ice Lakes finally in sight

After a few hundred meters it was finally time. As icing on the cake, we of course arrived at the clear blue ice lake! The lake was such a bizarre color, as if someone had thrown a truckload of food coloring into it.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
The bright blue ice lake | Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
What a bizarre colors | Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

A man braved the icy water and took a dip in the lake. Malou and I just kept our feet up, because after 10 seconds your feet started to sting. This water is so very cold! That is not surprising, because a week or two ago this lake was still completely frozen. It's not called 'Ice Lakes' for nothing.

After chatting with other hikers, it was time for the last photo before heading back down.

Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Together we conquered the trail | Silverton Colorado

Our experience

Although we knew we were going to climb, we had misjudged the difficulty and effort. We read 4,3 miles, didn't really bother to calculate correctly and thought LET´S GO. We had just finished our lunch and we thought we could manage with just some water.

5,5 hours (!) later we were at the ice-lake and we drank our last drops of water. So we still had to start on the way back…

Misjudged

If we had taken the trouble to calculate correctly, we would certainly have brought more water and food! 4,3 miles was only the way there. So total it would be 4,3 x2 = 8,6 miles. If we convert this to kilometres, that is 14 kilometres!

A walk of 14 km on a flat road would be quite a walk, let alone into the height. We went from 3000 meters to 4000 meters and it was definitely noticeable.

Altitude sickness

During the way back Malou was not able to enjoy the area anymore. She was hungry, had a headache and was nauseous. It was probably a combination of dehydration, altitude sickness and of course not eating enough. On the way down we luckily met some hikers who wanted to share some water with us.

We then continued on and after 2,5 hours, when we were back at our camper, we could finally eat and drink. By that time, Malou was really exhausted. So much so that even eating was no longer possible. She spit up, then ate some carrots, drank some water and went to bed. Her body clearly needed rest.

Tips

So now that we have experienced how it is cannot If I have to, I give you the following tips for a hike like this:

  • Wear good and sturdy walking shoes. Sneakers are okay, but they won't always provide you with enough grip and you're more likely to sprain your ankle. Then you are supposedly even further from home…
  • take enough water en food along. You really need two liters to continue to replenish your fluid deficit. Although you don't notice it, you consume a lot of moisture in the altitude. Consider getting a lifestraw so that you can filter river water on site for drinking.
  • Trek layers of clothing at. It may be sunny and warm at the time of departure, but the weather can change quickly in the mountains. You need to be able to defend against wind and rain to keep yourself warm so that your energy is not wasted suffering from the cold.
  • Take it easy. You start at three kilometers altitude, which is high enough to experience altitude sickness. Effort at this height will therefore really make you feel double. Altitude sickness is therefore really something that you have to take into account.

Also read: Pacific Crest Trail | Preparation, tips and packing list for long treks

Conclusion

Despite the fact that Malou had a very unpleasant experience at the end, this trail was really fantastic to walk. Normally we would have been better prepared and able to cover a distance like this without any problems. It just goes to show that you should never underestimate nature. We just felt like going for a walk, so we didn't pay much attention. We therefore misjudged the trail.

Chris on the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado
Chris on the Ice Lakes Trail | Silverton Colorado

However, don't let that stop you from putting this trail on your map. The starting point is here., so save it on your Google Maps. It is a trail with so much natural beauty! The entire trail is a Walhalla for nature lovers. It is therefore really a must-do if you are ever in Colorado.


Plan your vacation to America here


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Chris

Owner of Wereldreizigers.nl † Discover the world!

✔️ January 2021 - Friesland
✔️ February 2021 - Dordrecht
❌ March 2021 - Hard lockdown
✔️ April 2021 - Roadtrip Switzerland
✔️ April 2021 - Elsloo, Friesland
✔️ May 2021 - Eijsden & Maastricht, Limburg
✔️ May 2021 - Breda
✔️ May 2021 - Achterhoek
✔️ June 2021 - Mallorca, Spain
✔️ July 2021 - Roadtrip Croatia
✔️ August 2021 - Roadtrip Slovenia
✔️ August 2021 - Kenya Tour
✔️ September 2021 - Round trip Uganda
✔️ October 2021 - Ostend, Belgium
❌ November 2021 - Home
❌ December 2021 - Home

➡️ 2022 - 1 year United States & Canada

Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!

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