Explore Colorado / Explore The Outdoors

Hike to Ice Caves Near Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is home to the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world. It’s a wonderful ski and soak destination since Wolf Creek Ski Area is just 30 minutes away. It’s also a great hike and soak destination with amazing trails nearby including one that takes you to ice caves.

My longtime dear friend Selena and her family met me in Pagosa Springs for the second December in a row. Selena’s husband and kids ski, but Selena doesn’t ski. While searching for a moderately easy trail for us to do, I found Ice Cave Ridge.

Trail Stats: Moderately easy and great for families or dogs. Be careful around ice caves that are close to the trail. To the ice caves and up to ridge is about 3 miles round trip. Elevation at trailhead is 7,708 feet. Elevation on the ridge is 8,060 feet.

Getting There: From US 160 on the west side of Pagosa Springs, head north on Piedra Road (CR 600/FS 631). Drive 16 miles through ranch land. The Piedra River/Ice Cave Ridge Trailhead is on the left just after crossing the Piedra River bridge. There are signs.

After I did some early morning television live shots from The Springs Resort, we walked across the bridge to Root House, my favorite coffee shop in Pagosa Springs. Neither one of us are normally doughnut people, but a few locals were raving about them while we were in line so we split one. They locals are right. The doughnuts (and lattes) are rave worthy!

It was a glorious cold morning without a cloud in the sky as we drove about 30 minutes through beautiful ranch land to the Piedra River/Ice Cave Ridge Parking Lot. There was only one other car in the parking lot. The trail splits close to the start. We took the right fork.

As we headed into the forest, we saw some wildlife tracks including snowshoe hare and probably a coyote. As we hiked through the pines with the sun shining through, the trail is pretty much uphill the entire way, but it’s not a bad uphill.

The first ice cave is about .6 miles in. It’s on the left. As we came up to anothe split in the trail, we found a second ice cave on the right. Technically they’re fissures, or a long, narrow crack, instead of caves. In summer these fissures have snow and ice in them which is why it’s called Ice Cave Ridge. Be very careful around the ice caves, or fissures, especially with children and dogs. It’s very easy to fall into one.

Instead of beelining up to the ridge, we stayed on the trail and got into snow that wasn’t as packed down and snowshoes would have been a better option than spikes. So we turned around headed back to the split by the second ice cave.

As we started up the ridge, we found a third, much smaller ice cave. The trail to the ridge wasn’t as defined or packed down as the other trail but we made up the short and steep section in about three minutes. The view from the ridge is beautiful as you look out across the Weminuche Wilderness and over to the San Juan Mountains.

After our hike back down we stopped at the first ice caves one more time, enjoyed the view during the last stretch back to my car, and explored a little along the Piedra River.

Once back in Pagosa Springs, we had a wonderful lunch of fish tacos at Kip’s Grill. They’re another locals’ favorite. The we headed off to the wspa at The Springs Resort for massages. We met up with Selena’s husband and kids and we walked to an early dinner at Kip’s. Selena and I were still full from lunch so we split the nachos and sipped pomegranate margaritas for a delicious light dinner. After dinner we soaked in the hot springs at The Springs Resorts where I was staying and toasted with beers to cheers our great day.

Check out Jennifer’s post on a Wellness Getaway for more on the Springs Resorts and How to Spend a Winter Day in Pagosa Springs for another hiking adventure.

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