This was a pretty tough hike! It is the equivalent of climbing 80 flights of stairs. The trail criss crosses a stream and is almost completely in the shade, which is a good thing. There are many nice benches and also helpful distance markers. It is 1.2 miles to the top. Except for the seven bridges that cross the stream, it is a continuous climb. It took me 90 minutes. Because of the altitude, I had to stop and rest at every bench. It was worth it. The lake is a unique shade of turquoise shading into a rich brown. There are several waterfalls. It took almost as long to come down. The rocks require slow and careful foot placement. We got there by 8:30 AM, because we heard that the small parking lot fills up fast. I read that there are plans to run a shuttle from a large parking lot to address the lack of parking. One confusing thing is that there isn't an exit from the west bound side of I-70. You drive past the entrance to the park, then exit, and turn around to head east bound again on I-70.
Afterwards, we went to the Iron Mountain Hot Springs
. This was a well deserved treat after the hike. We ate at their cafe, which had a good selection of drinks, sandwiches and salads. Then, we changed in their nice changing room. (They rent towels, if you have forgotten yours.) Then, we soaked. There are sixteen small natural minerals springs pools. Each is set at a different temperature from 97 - 108 degrees. We found the ones over 100 were too hot. The Springs are alongside a river and are open air. It was so relaxing. There are plenty of lounge chairs, so you can get out of the hot springs and just sun and read. It wasn't crowded, so we often had a pool to ourselves.
|The reward after a 1.2 mile climb|
|The largest pool is the family pool, the rest are quiet areas|
|Iron Mountain Springs was my reward for the 1.2 mile climb down|
|The pools by the river|
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