Get a great workout and some incredible views on this steep, dry trail in the Teanaway.
From the trailhead, begin climbing immediately alongside a steep, unnamed creek. You’ll be able to hear it for about half of your hike, though this is your first and only chance to get water; the trail turns away from the creek within an eighth of a mile, and you’ll be out of reach of water after that.
The trail climbs steadily and steeply. The switchbacks are short (when they’re there), and much of the tread is rocky – step carefully and take your time ascending. It’s exposed, too – be sure to carry all the water you’ll need, and consider bringing a filter.
Much of this hike travels through the Eldorado Research Natural Area, a parcel of land set aside in 1972 to protect several species of plant and wildlife that thrive thanks to the unique geology here. Rocks such as peridotite and the signature green serpentine, as well as Swauk sandstone provide habitat for serpentine plant communities that thrive in barren landscapes (like the one you're walking through), as well as the more lush habitats near streams in the area. The area also allows for the long-term study of plant tolerance to high levels of metals in soil, namely magnesium and nickel.
The views are excellent. Each time you take a sip of water or a break to catch your breath, you will enjoy bigger and bigger views of the valley below you – to your left is Koppen Mountain, and to the right, the foremost of the Esmeralda Peaks.
About halfway through, the trail bumps over the ridge. You can still hear a creek, but now it's Eldorado Creek, on the east side of the ridge. You’ll pass this once and then switchback over, continuing up and up. Now the switchbacks begin to shorten as the trail funnels upwards to a small saddle, just visible through the trees.
Here, the Iron Peak Trail continues down the other side of the saddle, to a junction with the Beverly Creek Trail. The trail is obvious immediately out of the saddle, but fades quickly as you descend. If you elect to head for the official end of the trail, stay to the right, following a creek down (the trail weaves nearby it, but at one point actually becomes the creek). Cross the creek where it meets with another small spring. From here, you are on good tread the remainder of the way to the Beverly Turnpike Trail junction. It’s about 0.25 miles total from the saddle.
Iron Peak itself is attainable by a scramble; the peak is off to your right. Refer to your map to see the best route. The peak is at 6510 feet, another 350 feet up from the saddle.