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Nice moderate hike with lots of good photo ops
If you are looking for a moderate hike that provides a nice workout, excellent views, and lots of photo opportunities then this trail is for you. This trail has water running along it most of the way up with several big watering holes along the way, so if you hike with a dog and don't carry fresh water with you there are plenty of spots along the way. This trail is good for dogs as there are only a few spots where your four-legged friend may need help up. There are also some great camping possibilities along the way, particularly around Lower Mohawk Lake. As long as you don't mind backpacking in, the spots are secluded from one another and most are fairly well sheltered with trees and rockwalls nearby.
Starting from the main trailhead, you will immediately head into very thick woods. The trail continues through thick and shady tree cover for about 1.77 miles of very gradual elevation gain with very few openings along the way. If you are hiking the trail specifically for wonderful views you may want to consider heading up to the upper parking area as this stretch is mostly all in the thick woods. The few openings you do come to along the way offer some very nice views across small ponds in grassy valleys with the large peaks in the area as a backdrop (good photo spots). Once you have covered approx. 1.77 miles you will come to the upper parking area at the end of Spruce Creek Rd. Walk across the parking area toward the spillway and the sound of running water. Proceed up the trail from here. The trail starts to get a bit rocky from here and altitude gain is a little quicker. From here you will proceed up the trail toward Continental falls, passing several ruins of mining cabins, one of which has been preserved complete with a roof and windows. From this cabin, it is a fairly steep climb up to Continental Falls. There are several paths off the trail leading to the falls, all of which offer great views of the long falls and many spots to sit and enjoy the passing water.
After you have taken in the falls, there is a short but steep climb up to the ruins of the old mining operation. You can either go up the steep rocky section next to the old steel cables running up the rock face or veer left to a more gradual path up. Once you reach the ruins at the top it is just a short walk up the trail to the Lower Mohawk Lake. The lower lake offers a good spot for your dog, or you if you are hot, exhausted, and brave, a chance for a cool swim in crystal clear waters. There are quite a few trout swimming around in the clear waters so if you drug a pole and flies along you might have some luck. Around the lake there are many spots that have been used for dispersed camping, all with excellent views. This lower lake could be your final destination, or you can continue up the trail for a little more than .5 miles to the upper lake.
The trail up to Mohawk Lake is a bit steeper and narrower than the earlier part of the trail, but is well worth the effort and distance. When you reach the upper lake, you will find awesome views of the valley below, the lake situated in a bowl below the summit, and dark, rocky, dominating peaks above you. You will possibly find more seclusion here as well, as many people seem to be motivated to climb to the upper lake. The upper lake, like the lower, is crystal clear and fairly large. I have not seen anyone attempting to fish this lake nor have I seen any trout swimming about, but it seems like it would be a good fishing hole. The shore around the lake offers several spots for your dog to get in and out of the water without boulders getting in the way. The lower lake is very near timberline and the upper lake is at or slightly above timberline, so it would be advisable to attempt to get to the upper lake early in the day to avoid the afternoon storms as you would make a wonderful lightning rod up there!
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This hike is listed as One-Way.
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