A strenuous loop hike in the Teanaway area of Washington. Cross two mountain passes, hike alongside of a creek, and climb, climb, climb to some excellent views.
The Iron Peak loop offers visitors a long day hike or a weekend backpacking trip, as long as you're OK with carrying a full pack over two mountain passes, gaining and losing more than 4000 feet of elevation along the way.
From the Esmeralda trailhead, you'll take the popular trail for Ingalls Lake. Switchback through temperate forest to a more alpine area. 1.4 miles from the trailhead, a trail to your right peels off for Longs Pass. Take it, and begin climbing.
In the pass, look for a cairn, indicating a faint way trail that heads downhill, on the north side of the pass into the Ingalls Creek drainage. Head down, hooking up with the Ingalls Creek trail. Once there, head right (east) on it, following the trail to a junction that leads to Iron Peak. Head uphill on this trail, climbing out of the creek drainage up the north sides of Iron Peak.
From a small saddle on the west shoulder of Iron Peak, wave goodbye the views of the valley and head south, 3.5 miles down the trail and back to the road. Once on the road, turn right and walk up to the Esmeralda Basin trailhead.