An easy Class 2 walk-up peak in the midst of the gorgeous Ice Lake Basin area. An opportunity to see and photograph the splendid display of wildflowers this area is known for. Accessible to passenger vehicles.
Use this trailhead for peaks located in the Ice Lake Basin group or around Island Lake. Includes the following summits: Pilot KNob, V.2, V.4 and US Grant. This can also serve as a trailhead of Fuller, Vermilion, and Golden Horn.
From the Town of Silverton and the US 550 intersection on the west side of town, drive north on US 550 and in a little over 2 miles turn west onto FR585. If coming from Ouray, drive south on US 550 over Red Mountain Pass and watch for the FR585 turnoff on your right before reaching Silverton. Drive west on this graded dirt road to the campground and trailhead parking appx. 4.7 miles in. The last mile of road gets a little rougher but should still be navigable by passenger cars.
When you arrive at the trailhead, the entrance to the campground will be to the left and parking for the trail will be in a gravel lot to the right. Overnight camping in the lot is not permitted. On summer weekends, the lot will easily fill by early morning. There is an alternate to this lot for a trailhead access into Ice Lake Basin. It is as follows: at 4.2 miles in on FR585 after turning off US550, there's a single-track road that veers off to the right at these coordinates: N 37° 48' 19.42" W 107° 46' 25.33". Elevation is 9,795 ft. The road is best suited for 4WD with good clearance. This is known as the "Clear Lake Road" and actually continues all the way to Clear Lake. The road does not show on the USGS 1955 quad.
Drive up the road to the first switchback and park. Perhaps 3 - 5 vehicles can be crammed into here. There's no room to camp. Elevation is 10,340 ft, so you'll save about 500 feet in elevation but little mileage by parking here. Coordinates are: N 37° 48' 37.71" W 107° 46' 35.46".
All along FR585, once you turn off US550, there are numerous at-large, primitive sites. Upon turning off US 550 and driving less than a mile, there's a large open area on the left with a vault toilet. There are usually a large number of RV's here. There is also the South Mineral Creek Campground and before arriving at the campground, you will see a number of other camp spots. Expect fierce competition on summer weekends for sites. This is a very popular area. There is no "allowed" camping at the trail head parking area.
Directions for South Mineral CG per San Juan NF: 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. The Ice Lake Basin Trail, a strenuous, steep, and popular hike, begins across the road from the campground. It leads up above timberline to high alpine lakes surrounded by meadows of wildflowers and rocky peaks. South Mineral Campground does not take reservations. All sites are first come first served. There are an assortment of designated areas along South Mineral Road where dispersed camping is allowed so there is plenty of camping in the canyon on all but the busiest days.
Picnic tables, composting vault toilets, fire grates, trash disposal, potable water. No electricity. Operated by concessionaire. The campground has 26 sites that are mostly level, at 9,800 feet. Some sites are handicapped accessible. Several camping loops and well-spaced sites offer plenty of privacy. Spruce and fir give lots of shade, but there are some sunny sites. A few sites are along the creek, and some have large parking areas.
Dispersed camping along Forest Rd. 585 is allowed only in designated camping areas. Please follow posted directions and instructions.
This route description is based on a start from the lower trail head, so mileage and elevation gain will reflect that starting point. If using the Clear Creek Road trail head, you can subtract 400 feet of elevation gain. Mileage will remain about the same. Both trails join together not long after crossing Clear Creek.
From the lower trail head parking lot that can accommodate a large number of vehicles, begin hiking on the well-used and popular trail to Lower Ice Lake Basin. It's less than 2 miles into the lower basin area. The trail levels off some into the basin after a steep section of climbing on switchbacks. If backpacking into here, there are a number of good campsites in the lower basin. Not long after the trails levels in the lower basin, watch for a secondary trail turning off at these coordinates, on the right. N 37° 48' 45.33" W 107° 47' 29.55". This trail leads up first north, then west, then north again across mostly tundra to Island Lake. Beyond the lake, it actually crosses a pass NNE of the lake. You could follow the trail all the way to the pass, then turn right and follow the rock, rubble and scree ridge crest to the summit. This would be the most "gentle" approach. If following the ridge crest, stay on the south side when encountering difficulties and you should also find more than one "path" that leads along the ridge crest to the summit.
The other choice would be to ascend the south slopes of V2, beginning the ascent from a flatter area a little east of Island Lake, and aiming straight for the summit or a little left (west) of the high point. Three-fourths of this ascent will be on tundra, with the last fourth on scree and rubble that's not too difficult to handle. The actual summit ridge is more of a rocky outcrop with a little bit of exposure on the north side that drops away to Clear Lake far below.
Descend to the south by any route of your choice or return by the west ridge to the saddle and then follow the trail back down. Best feature of this hike: the abundant and verdant wildflowers of Lower Ice Lake Basin and up towards Island Lake.
An alternate route for V. 2 exists by driving up to Clear Lake and hiking from the SW end of the lake in a SW direction to gain the west ridge of V.2. While this can reduce overall elevation gain, a 4WD vehicle is required and the there will be more rock to deal with.