Ira Spring Trail — Mason Lake
We reached the trail-head by 9:30 on a sunny Saturday morning early June to find the parking completely filled up and had to park the car about a mile away. We were quite surprised since we hadn’t expected this particular trail to be so crowded. After displaying the America the Beautiful pass on the car dashboard and changing into our hiking shoes we started on the 6.5 mile trail to ascend about 2400 ft.
WTA: Ira Spring Trail
AllTrails: Mason Lake via Ira Spring Memorial Trail
At the beginning, I was a little apprehensive about completing the trail. I had some pain in my calf muscles from a 6 mile run couple of days ago. AllTrails notes that the trail gains about 1800 ft. in the last 1.5 mile. Right from the beginning, the trail had a relentless ascent. Luckily for me, about a mile into the hike my legs felt completely pain free. I was reminded of the background narrative in my Nike + Running app where a marathon runner described how the muscles adapt when they are regularly used — avoid muscle atrophy. Encouraged, I picked up my pace.
The second half of the hike was definitely steeper. Taking a few breaks, we quickly broke out of the forest growth. From the alpine levels you get to admire the majestic Mt. Rainier some distance away.
Once you get to the highest point, you descend the next 0.5 miles to reach the lake on the other side of the mountain. Shielded away from the warmth of the sun, it felt like walking into a refrigerator. The lake still had some ice on it, but the shore was mostly clear.
Overall, this hike was slightly on the moderate — difficult spectrum of the effort scale. AllTrails clocked 3 hours and 20 minutes as the moving time, which is a pretty good effort in my opinion. I now feel confident testing ourselves on tougher hikes in terms of altitude gains.