Some Colorado hikes are just challenging, while others take you to and through spectacular views. The Ice Lake and Island Lake hikes will do both.

The Silverton area offers some of the most beautiful scenery the state has to offer. Get off the highway and into the backcountry and you are going to have one extraordinary experience. Keep in mind, it won't come easy.

For those that prefer a 'short' hike, the 4.5-mile hike (roundtrip) to Lower Ice Lake might be for you. However,  even this short hike is not for the faint of heart - with an elevation gain of 1,670 feet.

But, along the way, you'll encounter a meadow, a waterfall,  climb through some trees, and some steep switchbacks. You'll be ready to rest when you finally reach the Lower Ice Lake Basin.

Columbine and Wildflowers in Colorado Mountain Basin
Getty Images/iStockphoto- Ice Lake Basin Meadow

If you choose to go farther, Ice Lake will be the next thing on your radar, making it a 7-mile round-trip and an elevation gain of 2,430 feet. Along the way, more flower-filled meadows, another waterfall, some steep switchbacks, and a final .6 mile ascent with an elevation gain of 700 feet. Your reward is the magnificent turquoise blue Ice Lake in all it's majesty.

If you've got anything left,  you might as well continue on to Island Lake, which will make your hike 8.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,552 feet. From Ice Lake, your trek will be just under a mile with a slight elevation gain of 130 feet.

Stunning views not witnessed by many await you, so be sure and have your camera.

Island Lake, Colorado
Getty Images/iStockphoto - Island Lake

The hike up to these beautiful lakes is described as moderately strenuous. Obviously, there is no technical climbing or rock scrambling on this hike, but your heart and legs will definitely get a workout. I think at least a moderate level of fitness would be required to successfully and comfortably accomplish this mission in beautiful southwest Colorado.

To find the trailhead from Silverton, drive 1.9 miles north on Highway 550 to County Road 7. Turn left and follow the good dirt road 4.4 miles to the trailhead.

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