Iceberg Lakes, East Portal Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado

Iceberg Lakes - 11.8 miles

East Portal Trailhead

The Iceberg Lakes

The Iceberg Lakes

Round-Trip Length: 11.8 miles (distance may vary by route on Divide)
Start-End Elevation: 9,211' - 12,115' (at overlook on the DIvide)
Elevation Change: +2,904' net elevation gain (+3,272' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Iceberg Lakes - 11.8 Miles Round-Trip

The Iceberg Lakes are located just below the Continental Divide, 1.1 miles north of Rogers Pass in the James Peak Wilderness. No trail reaches these lightly traveled lakes, but a 5.9 mile route from East Portal Trailhead leads up Rogers Pass and along the Continental Divide Trail to a great overlook.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

While the lakes are exceptional, the trek itself is equally compelling. The trail passes through a verdant forest up to Heart Lake, and open tundra along the CDT with views across the Indian Peaks, Rocky Mountain National Park and Vasquez Peak Wilderness.

Experienced hikers can sight-navigate down relatively moderate terrain to the lakes:

Follow signs right (north) of Moffat Tunnel to the South Boulder Creek Trail. It rises past the tunnel through intervals of aspen, spruce and meadow to the Arapaho Lakes - Forest Lakes split (1.25 miles : 9,545') and Crater Lakes split (1.85 miles : 9,925').

The trail crosses two bridges over Clayton Creek (2.2 miles : 10,038') and continues steadily in a moss-draped forest to a second tributary bridge (2.6 miles : 10,235')

A variously rocky and rooted climb leads to a cascade (3.48 miles : 10,742'), where it steepens to a makeshift log bridge that crosses (right) back over the creek (3.68 miles : 10,970’).

The forest thins into a scenic meadow at the base of Haystack Mountain, and levels on a northwest bend to Rogers Peak Lake (4.05 miles : 11,105').

The main trail wraps the lake’s east side and scales a steep ridge through treeline to Heart Lake and the Rogers Pass Trail split (4.35 miles : 11,316’). The split is not marked but the path is very clear. If not, look uphill for guideposts.

The Rogers Pass Trail climbs sharply with rangy views across the Heart - Rogers Peak lakes basin. It switchbacks several times before braiding atop the Divide. All paths intersect the Continental Divide Trail, but it’s advisable to follow signs off to your left.

There are two signs up here – an old dilapidated one for the pass (11,860’), and a new one with trail information (4.85 miles : 11,875’). Turn north at this second sign and follow double track to the Rogers Pass Trail - Corona Trail split (5.0 miles : 11,880’).

Veer right on the Corona Trail (this is the CDT), which rises over the Heart Lake cirque before moderating on a faint path in open tundra.

While the trail is vague, your heading is intuitive and aided by cairns and posts. Anticipate rough bands of talus leading to the Iceberg Lakes overlook (5.9 miles : 12,115’).

Views are exceptional, and it’s possible to sight-navigate down relatively moderate terrain to the lakes. Only experienced hikers should attempt this route.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 54.189 W105 38.666 — 0.0 miles : East Portal Trailhead
  • N39 53.953 W105 39.026 — .5 miles : Mild grade through meadows and mixed forest
  • N39 53.599 W105 39.628 — 1.2 miles : Forest Lake Trail split
  • N39 53.443 W105 39.814 — 1.5 miles : Wide, rocky path adjacent to the creek
  • N39 53.404 W105 40.130 — 1.85 miles : Crater Lakes Trail split
  • N39 53.030 W105 40.422 — 2.5 miles : Variously rugged travel on shifting path
  • N39 52.934 W105 40.433 — 2.62 miles : Cross bridge | unmaintained trail split
  • N39 52.649 W105 40.553 — 3.0 miles : Steady climb in healthy forest
  • N39 52.305 W105 40.823 — 3.48 miles : Cross bridge at base of cascade
  • N39 52.240 W105 41.034 — 3.68 miles : Cross creek (right) on makeshift bridge
  • N39 52.277 W105 41.328 — 4.05 miles : Rogers Peak Lake
  • N39 52.409 W105 41.525 — 4.35 miles : Heart Lake and Rogers Pass Trail split
  • N39 52.350 W105 41.644 — 4.6 miles : Switchbacks to Rogers Pass
  • N39 52.295 W105 41.834 — 4.85 miles : Rogers Pass - CDT split
  • N39 52.365 W105 41.943 — 5.0 miles : Corona Trail (CDT) - Rogers Pass Trail split
  • N39 52.705 W105 42.041 — 5.5 miles : Trail fades but follows cairns and posts
  • N39 53.083 W105 41.921 — 5.9 miles : Iceberg Lakes overlook

Worth Noting

  • The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) runs over 3100 miles from Mexico to Canada, 800 of which pass through Colorado. While collectively termed the CDT, many segments have alternative names. The Corona Trail and High Lonesome Trail are two popular segments of the CDT within the James Peak and Indian Peaks Wilderness areas.
  • The Heart Lake trail corridor sees heavy use, and many social trails have formed. Remain vigilant, especially near creeks and lakes where many dispersed campsites are located.
  • Be mindful of changing weather and aim for treeline before storms develop.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Permits are not required for camping in the James Peak Wilderness. Contact the Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance for the latest updates and conditions.

  • There are no designated campsites in this travel zone. Dispersed camping only. Use established sites whenever possible to minimize impact.

  • Campfires are not permitted in the James Peak Wilderness. Gas stoves only.

  • Camp at least 100' away from all streams, lakes and trails.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times.

  • There are several good sites with tree cover around Rogers Peak Lake, and an adjacent lake hidden from the trail. Heart Lake sites are more exposed.

  • Group size is limited to 12 people or people and stock combined.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at Heart Lake, Rogers Peak Lake, the Iceberg Lakes and all tributaries with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the James Peak Wilderness.

Directions to Trailhead

The East Portal Trailhead is located at the end of Rollins Pass Road, an 8.2 mile dirt road west of Highway 119. Rollins Pass Road is located 4.9 miles south of Nederland, Colorado.

The dirt road is well-maintained but conditions deteriorate when wet.

From Highway 119, turn west on Rollins Pass Road and Keep Straight until it dead-ends at the Moffat Tunnel. Ignore turnoffs that climb toward the pass.

Contact Information

Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301
303.541.2500

Sulphur Ranger District
9 Ten Mile Drive
P.O. Box 10
Granby, Colorado 80446
970.887.4100

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.



Comments

"Wow - what a great route! I've been over the top of Iceberg Lakes but never down to them, and always wanted to do something similar where you find an adjacent drainage and make a loop of it. Definitely know what you mean about the rock around upper Crater Lakes. Props all around - that's one tough hike (share some pics please!)."
Steven  -   -  Date Posted: September 1, 2015
"Marathon hike yesterday from East Portal up to Iceberg Lakes, up to the Divide, north along the CDT, down off the Divide near Arapahoe Lakes and back to East Portal. There are no trails for much of this route, but for anyone interested, I went from the East Portal to the Crater Lakes, then up over a very steep notch and into the Clayton Lake/Iceberg Lakes valley. Crowded at the parking lot, crowded as far as the Lower Crater Lakes, and then after that, not one single person for the entire rest of the day. Some very slippery scree and lots of rock-hopping and several times I wished I'd had one of those emergency GPS rescue beacons. A broken ankle in some of those remote places would have been very serious. BTW, hiked with Leki poles and they helped a lot -- gives you 4 points of balance instead of just 2. Curl around the valley, keeping as much altitude as possible, and you eventually get to the Iceberg Lakes. They are gorgeous. The only other way to get there is down off the Divide. From the Icebergs, there is a very steep and thin but identifiable path up through rocks and scree to the Divide. Well worth it! At this time of year, the tundra is turning, such beautiful reds and yellows in that delicate high tundra. After all that steep climbing, the soft pitch down to Winter Park is so inviting. I wanted to just walk down there, but then, how get back to the car at East Portal? Wondered if maybe the train would let me off there. But in the end, I followed the CDT north, looking for a way back down. I know you can get down at Rogers Pass, but I wanted to find another way down. Everything in the Crater Lakes valley was way too steep. Finally, found a way down in the Arapahoe Lakes valley. Rock-hopped down until I finally hooked into the trail along South Boulder Creek. From there, it's a looooong downhill hike back to the main trail. The trail meets the main trail about a mile from the East Portal parking lot. One last mile and then back to the car! It was a 12-hour day. I have no idea how many miles. Maybe 12-15? Bring purifying tablets so you can get more water. The Iceberg Lakes valley is just lovely. Plus, with almost no people, there's more animals. I've seen packs of coyotes every time I go there. Next time, I think I'll call it a day at the Divide and arrange for a ride from Winter Park. And if you want to see the tundra on the Divide without all the climbing, you can drive a two-wheel drive up from Winter Park to the West side of the Rollins Pass, and it's a very easy walk about .25 miles up to the divide. "
Mark Apelman  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: August 31, 2015
"Great hike! The wildflowers are just off the charts this year due to all that rain in may/June."
Adam Jacobs  -  Iceberg Lake  -  Date Posted: July 29, 2015

 

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