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

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

Departure Time: 2:00pm, please be prompt because we will leave at 2:05pm.

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)

Waiver Info: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release form on file with us. This waiver covers all trips and activities so you only need to sign it once. If you have not already signed this form it can be downloaded from our "Files" section and turned in to the organizer when you arrive for the trip.

Deadline Info: The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is Monday, July 22, 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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  • Stephany

    Great hike, beautiful scenery. The rain was tough during the night, but who can complain when we need it so badly. I was telling my husband the same thing about returning. I want to finish that final loop.

    July 29, 2013

  • Sharon E.

    Good company made the trails an even better adventure. Upper Ice Lake was like the Caribbean. Need to go back to Highland Mary Lakes to explore more of the trail because never-ending rains made the choice for us to turnaround.

    July 28, 2013

  • Sharon E.

    Hi Stephany,
    There is plenty of space for this trip. I have a waiting list because it is posted on this site and the Colorado Backpacking site. I will add you.
    Bring a chair for the campfire tomorrow night and don't forget bug spray!

    July 25, 2013

  • Stephany

    A work event was cancelled today that will open up my calendar tomorrow. If a spot opens for this trip, I'd love to go.

    July 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I've day hiked to upper Ice Lake basin a few times and look forward to returning again and also experiencing a Mary Lakes backpack.

    July 13, 2013

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