It has been awhile since I hiked any of this trail, and I had forgotten how beautiful it is, or never made it to the beautiful parts! Iron Creek Trail trailhead is just off Iron Mountain Road across from Lakota Lake. Definitely not a heavily trafficked trail, partly, I’m sure, due to the fact that it isn’t a destination hike – there isn’t something spectacular at the end. It isn’t challenging and there is very little elevation gain. The most difficult parts are the creek crossings, since the bridges are very simple foot bridges, and one bridge is a single rather bouncy plank. Given that most of the hiking we do includes a lot of uphill and some more challenging terrain, I enjoyed the change of pace, and got a kick out of the review on All Trails that said “seasoned hikers” may not enjoy this trail because it is too easy. I must not be a seasoned hiker.
While I thoroughly enjoy a challenging hike, or a hike with a view at the end, I get so much joy and satisfaction out of a simple walk along a beautiful path, with wildflowers to gaze at and friends to talk to. Sometimes all that is needed is to get away, not necessarily to go somewhere and see something in particular. The fall colors are sure showing their stuff right about now, and will only intensify over the next few weeks. On the one hand, it makes me a little sad. The days have already gotten so much shorter, and the nights so much cooler. Both of which I love, but the growing season and the late evening hiking season are fasting fading away. But on the other hand, it means that snow is just around the corner, and the change of seasons is always exhilarating. A new crop of wildflowers, the late summer ones, have bloomed, and the trail was lavishly adorned with those so-rich autumn colors – the yellows of changed leaves and goldenrod, and the reds of poison ivy and rosehips and woodbine, and the warm golds and browns and tans of spent flowers and dying leaves. Asters and closed gentian added splashes of amethyst.Wild hops was abundant and rather aggressive in one small area, which was fun for me to see, since I’ve never seen wild hops before! I always love finding new plants. The vine had taken over a good-sized tree, and the hops cones, such beautiful little things, hung in among the bright green leaves. Our hike was shortened somewhat by a thunderstorm rolling in and chasing us out eventually. The weather in the Hills can change so dramatically and so quickly. After hearing a constant roll of thunder for awhile and seeing hail clouds, we figured someone somewhere was getting hailed on (we were correct, we found out on the way home), but we stayed dry. But this is definitely a trail I’d enjoy hiking further on, and maybe taking hammocks and camping overnight!
I don’t know about other hikers, but this one sure enjoyed this hike and the splendid views along Iron Creek.