Iron Mountain – Cone Peak
July 3, 2005
What a great trip! Clear blue skies, mild temperatures, and about a zillion, maybe a zillion and half wild flowers in prime bloom, offered a spectacular day for us. This trail lived up to its reputation once again as a premier wildflower hike. Departing the lower trailhead off of FS Road 15 about 10:00 a.m. we hiked counter-clockwise, climbing east to the Tombstone parking area first, so that we could avoid that uphill at the end of our trip, on through Tombstone Prairie and up the Cone Peak Trail, enjoying forest flowers all along the way. We soon entered the first of the many clearings and open ridges, where we were treated to our first grand, sunny floral display of the day. It was like traveling from garden to garden to garden, endlessly coming into more spectacular gardens.
A twist on this popular Iron Mountain hike is a side trip to the top of Cone Peak. Despite the warnings on the signup sheet about this off trail, steep side trip, we had several people bail out of the ascent when they saw the steep route to the top that the leader pointed out from the trail below. So with 3 people taking a long lunch, the remaining 5 intrepid hikers headed up. The strenuous climb was rewarded with a great view (almost 200 feet higher than Iron Mountain), more wildflowers (who’d have thought) and the serenity of enjoying place where few come even though it is within ½ mile of one of the most popular hikes in the area.
After a leisurely lunch, some relaxation and enjoying the view, too soon we were off again; down Cone Peak, pick up the long lunchers and on around the north side of Iron Mountain and up to its lookout where we enjoyed even more wildflower shows and great views. Can their ever be too many wild flowers or great views? On the eve of the Fourth of July it was appropriate to find the some patriotic red, white and blue meadows of paint brush, larkspur and cat’s ear. What a photo opportunity. A little top time and then downward we go, back to the cars at about 4:30 p.m. It was a treat not to have to hike up the last half mile to the Tombstone parking lot.
On this hike were members Mari Baldwin, Larry Dunlap, Carol Houde, Bob Moffitt, Barb Revere, Nancy Whitfield and nonmember Steve Gunn. John Jacobsen, leader.