Ice Lake Trail and Highlands Mary Lakes Trail: Silverton, CO

Note: This trip is being posted on the NM Backpackers meetup site as well.  There are seven spots available.  If interested in going, please sign-up on the waiting list.

Who Should Attend: Physically prepared and active backpackers who like elevation gain and mileage.

Hike Description: This is an EXPLORATORY backpacking trip. Exploratory means that I have not been to this area. I will have a map, compass and GPS. Please Note: If unexpected adventures, additional mileage and detours make you nervous, then perhaps reconsider attending this trip.

This weekend adventure is all about lakes and views at 12,000+ elevation! Exciting!!!  We will hike two trails in two different areas.

Day 1: Arrive at South Mineral Campground.  Fee: $19/campsite.  This is a first-come/first-serve campground, so if there aren't any sites available when we arrive, we will head north and should be able to find something. Bring cash and some extra water for Day 1.

Day 2: Hiking the Ice Lake Trail is a challenging hike to a magnificent destination. Designed with short switchbacks to minimize steepness, the trail leads to two ice lake basins, lower and upper.  The lower one has a waterfall. Miles: 7 (out and back) Elevation Gain: 9,850ft - 12,257ft.

After we finish hiking the Ice Lake Tail, we will leave South Mineral Campground and head to Highland Mary Lakes TH, which is probably about a half hour to 45 minutes away. This trail is filled with wildflowers, wonderful views, high alpine tundra and seven lakes. We will backpack in and hike approximately another 4 - 5 miles, so that we end up at one of the beautiful lakes to camp at overnight.  There are seven lakes that we will see on this loop trip. Elevation Gain: 10,500ft - 12,000ft. Total Mileage for Day 2: Approximately 12 miles,could be a little more or less at high elevations

Day 3: Continue the Highland Mary Lakes loop hike and backpack out another 5 - 6 miles to the trailhead. Elevation Gain: 10,500ft - 12,600ft.

Late Lunch: On the way home, for those interested, we will make a stop in Silverton for a late lunch at the Handlebars Restaurant and Saloon.

Road Conditions: Bumpy dirt and gravel roads will be our means to get to South Mineral Campground trailhead. A high clearance, 4wd vehicle is not required.

Dogs: Not allowed this time.

Recommended Items: Bug Spray, a Daypack for the Ice Lake Trail and a Backpack for Highland Mary Lakes Trail, Cash (and some extra water for Day 1)

Deadline Info: The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is Wednesday, July 24, 2013. If you RSVP "Yes" for this trip, please plan on attending. Please read our RSVP Policy located in our "Pages" section.

Drive Time to Trailhead/Camp Area on Friday: Approx. 4 hours from ABQ

Camp Area Location: South Mineral Campground

Directions: South Mineral Campground is accessed by turning off U.S. Highway 550, about 3 miles west of Silverton, onto Forest Rd. 585, which heads west along South Mineral Creek. The campground is 4 miles off the highway and has 26 mostly level sites. Several camping loops and well-spaced sites are mostly shaded, but some are sunny. A few are next to the creek, and some have large parking areas.  Fee: $19/night

Trip Rating: Strenuous, due to elevation gain and mileage

Total Trail Length: Approximately 16 miles

Elevation Range: 9,850ft. to 12,600ft.

Expected Temps: 80s day, 40s night


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  • Keith F.

    Hey Sharon. I just camped at that campground for two nights. It rained a lot, visibilty was low and I never hiked the Ice Lake trail. I did spend a day hanging out in Silverton though. Cool little town. A nice old fashioned library that reminds of the one in Lovell, Maine that I spent many hours in over the years of vacationing there. I am really sick of rain. Last night it rained super hard. Water ran under my tent and all my gear that was not on my pad got wet. It's all loaded in the van waiting to be dried out (same thing I did yesterday) when I get to a campsite. I'm in Gunnison at the moment. Oh well, enjoy. It only rains where I am, lol.

    July 18, 2013

    • Sharon E.

      That library sounds great! I was just up in the South San Juans rain on our fact, the weather was picture perfect. Looking forward to next weekend...also, if you want to join us for the Ice Lake trek since you didn't get to do so, just let me know.

      July 21, 2013

    • Keith F.

      I'm in ABQ at the moment. Heading up to Buena Vista and north of there next. There are some roads in the Ouray/Telluride/Silverto­n area that will test your Jeep and your ability to drive it. lol Have fun.

      July 22, 2013

  • Paul S

    Hi all,
    I live in Montrose and am thinking of a dayhike top Highland Mary/Verde loop on Sunday 7/28. Our paths may cross!

    July 21, 2013

    • Sharon E.

      Okay.....we will look for you!

      July 21, 2013

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