We finished on Peak 10 and drove around the corner and just out of town to get to Crystal Lakes. We were hoping to find Continental Falls, in addition to quite a few lakes. We didn't really know what to expect, but it sounded like we'd really find some great scenery.
We found the parking area easily enough, and then turned right at the "Y" in the road to head up to Lower Crystal Lake. The trail immediately went over timberline and it was very scenic as we worked our way back to the basin where the lake was. We had Peak 10 on our right (we had just been to the top, coming from the other side) and Mount Helen on our left. It was gorgeous.
The trail went through some tight brush in places, and the trail was wet in other places. We even crossed the creek. When we got to Lower Crystal Lake and the ruins of a cabin, we could see that part of the trail had been turned into a hiking trail. It's been a long time since vehicles have been permitted on the other side of Lower Crystal Lake and up to Upper Crystal Lake. It looked like a nice hike, and we hoped to try it someday.
For now, though, our trail turned left and headed up to an unnamed mine. Evidence of the operation remained in loose rocks, but all buildings and mine shafts were long gone. It was very rocky, this last section, and everyone had fun. We managed to all barely fit in a turnaround at the end.
We headed back down, wondering where the Continental Falls were. We discovered that it was a different hike to get to them, nearby but not on our 4x4 road. It was getting late, so we aired up in the big parking area and headed off to Keystone for some awesome Mexican food. It was a great day of new trails!
Two days later, the weather cleared up a bit and a couple of us went back to the trail to find Continental Falls. It ended up being a short but tough hike, and one we wouldn't have had time for the other day. There would have been time if we had been there early, so that would be a great day of exploring in the future.
We parked at the trailhead and started up. It wasn't long before we got to the "Y" in the trail and headed over to Mayflower Lake. It has lots of brush near it, and it's difficult to see the entire lake when you are next to it. However, the ruins of the mining town offered quite a lot of exploration.
Heading up to Continental Falls, we found ourselves hiking with quite a few people -- on a Monday. It must be very busy on the weekends on this trail. We climbed to the top of the falls along the hiking trail that was very steep at times. It was also very scenic along the way.
We hiked as far as Lower Mohawk Lake, having a fantastic lunch next to the cabin at the far side of the lake. The weather looked like it was on its way there, so we headed down rather than continuing on to Mohawk Lake.
It was a great hike, and we'll definitely be there again in the future. Coupling this with the hike to Upper Crystal Lake would be a fantastic day of scenic hiking.