Rockin’ the Rocky Mountains

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This is part 2 of 4 of our Colorado Road Trip. Click here for Part 1.

As hiking enthusiasts, there was no way we were going to pass up on the opportunity to hike the trails of the Rocky Mountain Range –the problem was deciding which one to do in such a limited amount of time!  We settled on the Ice Lake Trail (map & GPS coordinates: N37 48.630, W107 46.588), mostly because of its proximity to the lodge we were staying at. It was a great decision: we found waterfalls, real trees, real lakes –all the things we can’t really find in Tucson!

Before heading to the trail, we stopped off at Molas Pass, where there is an absolutely beautiful view point of miles and miles of forest.

Molas Pass, Molas Lake, lookout view in Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
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Molas Pass View overlook lookout, Molas Lake, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
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View from the road of the small quaint town of Silverton, Colorado
We also had to pit stop at the old-fashioned town of Silverton.  Silverton is situated where Hwy 550 (the Million Dollar Highway) splits into multiple roads.

Jeep offroad trail to trailhead of Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
And off we go to the Ice Lake Trail! The road to this trail head is unpaved but manageable for a… Honda Civic. You go much faster in a Jeep Wrangler though. :D

After we parked, we followed the road on foot. After being passed by a few vehicles half a mile in, husband started to think we were going the wrong way.  So we headed back –which is a good thing! We found the real trail head –no signs, but it was very obvious, right where the GPS said it was supposed to be! Durrr….  From the trail head, the hike to Upper Ice Lake is 8.4 KM (5.2 miles).  With our back tracking, we ended up hiking 10.5 KM.  Oops.

Hiking to trailhead of Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
“I think we’re going the wrong way…”

Hiking to trailhead of Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Backtracking….

We had been so busy trying to find a spot to park near the trail head that we hiked on past it because we weren’t paying attention. It’s a good thing we backtracked! We would’ve missed out on this:

First waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
This waterfall is very close to the trail head.

First waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
We came across a few overnight backpackers who were “showering” (dunking their heads) here.

Evergreen and Aspen trees, steep waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Small pond where the waterfall empties into.

Green Aspen trees on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
We don’t have these glorious Aspen trees in Tucson…

Abandoned dilapidated old house cabin on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
An abandoned cabin along the way.

Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Short resting point.

This trail is strenuous & is pretty much uphill the entire way, except for a stint near Lower Ice Lake.

Lower Ice Lake, smaller ice lake pond on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Lower Ice Lake

Lower Ice Lake, smaller lake pond on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Lower Ice Lake in the distance

Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
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Waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

After this point (2nd major waterfall on this trail out of 3 waterfalls), the elevation is steeper & the trail has plenty of loose rocks.

Steep elevation on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

Taking a break on rainy, cold, hailing, hike through Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
And at this point, it got MUCH, MUCH colder.  Then it started raining, hailing, & the winds got much stronger…

Neither of us had jackets (which EVERYONE we passed on the trail had) & I was in shorts.  At some point I wanted to huddle under a shrub & wait (or freeze) but we were at the point of no-going-back!  And so, with the hail bouncing off our cold bodies, we trekked on!  Note to self: if the trail name has the word ICE (ICE Lake Trail) in it, bring warmer clothes.

Upper Ice Lake, San Juan National Forest, near Durango & Silverton, Colorado
And the view was worth it! The lake was an amazingly bright teal color. View enlarged photo

Upper Ice Lake, San Juan National Forest, near Durango & Silverton, Colorado
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Upper Ice Lake, San Juan National Forest, near Durango & Silverton, Colorado

We didn’t tarry here long. Since we were no longer straining to hike up, the wind, rain, & hail got REALLY cold so we took a few photos, tested the water (freezing BTW), had a few Cliff bars then started the descent back down.

View of trees on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
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Waterfalls on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
A thumbs up to the descent being a million times easier  –and less rainy/cold! =P

Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

Leonids near waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
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Ice Lake Trail hike, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

Switchbacks on Ice Lake Trail hike, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Check out all those switchbacks!

Ice Lake Trail hike, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado

First waterfall on Ice Lake Trail, Rocky Mountains, San Juan National Forest, Durango, Silverton, Colorado
Finally back at the first waterfall!

Later that evening we explored downtown Durango, a very cute town but very crowded. We opted for dinner at the Golden Triangle for Phad Thai.

Phad Thai from the Golden Triangle Restaurant in Durango, Colorado, CO

When the waitress brought us a check, she also brought us cotton candy… Which to us, seemed so random we thought it was a duster… It was just bizarre. My sweet tooth overcame the weirdness & I tested it out. Definitely cotton candy. Which is a good thing because I don’t like dusting but I do love cotton candy!!

Cotton candy from Thai Golden Triangle Restaurant in Durango, Colorado, CO

Stay tuned for the next post of our Southern CO / Northern AZ road trip!

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