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Island Lake Professional Review and Guide
"A spectacular hike to a glacial lake perched high on the side of Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains. The Island Lake Trail starts from the north end of the trailhead parking area, and climbs north up the west slopes of Lamoille Canyon. This open slope gives you a great view of the head of Lamoille Canyon to the south. After the trail crosses Island Creek, it ascends west in a few switchbacks, passing through isolated stands of trees, before ending at the edge of aptly named Island Lake. This small alpine lake is a classic cirque lake, or alpine tarn, left behind when the glacier that created the surrounding bowl-shaped canyon melted away."
--Bruce Grubbs, Hiking Nevada: A Guide to the State's Greatest Adventures (Falcon Guides).
This is an awesome hike; I think the only thing that would have made it better is if there were more trail beyond the lake. Within a hundred yards of the trail head, there is already a great view of Lamoille Canyon and some of the surrounding peaks. In early July the wildflowers were thick, and the first sun on the mountains across the way seemed to justify the name of the Ruby Range. When you get to the lake, I recommend continuing around to the right and climbing above it for some great photo opportunities. I am a 45-year-old teacher in moderately good shape, and the trail was fairly easy for me.
Coming from sea level of the Midwest the day before, our hike at starting altitude of 8,800 and walking a vertical mile on the hike was a poor suggestion to us tourists. I have never before or after experienced this severe shortness of breath & overwhelming fatigue that hiking at this altitude the morning after arriving in Elko from sea level caused. We were told by locals this was a nice leisurely hike, lake at the top 2 mile hike roundtrip. Take a bottle of wine, enjoy the coolness at the top, etc. No one mentioned being bent over gasping for air while we could still see our car parked in the parking lot. Beautiful region, great trail, river crossing etc. , but is a huge challenge to those new to HIGH High Sierra.
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