West Ironmask on the Ice
Posted on: February 3, 2019 5:35 pm
by: Doug Smith
The trailhead to the Ironmask Hills off the Lac le Jeune Road has been a wonderful addition to our trail network. In winter these are fat bike and snowshoe trails. When the snows have melted, they can be used for hiking and mountain biking. There may be seasonal closures for grazing so we need to check the KPCC website in advance if we can, and to heed all posted signage to avoid potential problems. At the end of fall when snow covered the area, we went for a hike on the trails close to the road for an out and back route with a loop at the south end.
There was about 3 inches of snow on the trails which is fine for winter hiking, but there was a lot of ice under the snow. Anywhere facing south was very slippery.
We followed the Coyote Trail, then at a junction took the Roadrunner Trail. From some of the higher points we had views across the valley to the Dewdrop Range and Red Plateau.
The area has open forest, a combination of ponderosa pine, juniper, dryland shrubs, sagebrush, and grasslands. There are lots of fallen (beetle-killed) trees and some standing snags.
The south end of the Ironmask Trails winds through sagebrush – grassland – ponderosa pine slopes above Wallender Lake.
Near a small pond are the remains of an old crumbling homestead.
A relic of the last user of this site is an old aluminum kettle, placed on top of the wall for interested bikers and hikers.
The ice made the hike difficult, but we just veered off trail on steeper slopes when we needed to. It was a good day for traction devices on boots. But, any day out hiking on good trails with some sunny weather is a good day.