on Mohawk Lakes Trail

off road driving
12 hours ago

This is an excellent, somewhat challenging hike; lots of different experiences to be had.
The moderate difficulty rating is an accurate description, and this trail is not for those that are not in decent physical condition.
First of all, be aware of the parking situation. There are three parking lots along the trail, perhaps 4 depending on how you look at it.
The first lower lot is for 2WD vehicles; be aware if you start hiking at this lot, the total hike distance is just over 8.5 miles. But about 5 of those miles are on a steep rocky gravel road, so not real scenic, but good exercise. If you have young kids, there are probably better trails; they will be tired and bored before you even get to the trailhead.
This brings me to the second parking lot, which is the first 4WD lot which is about 2 miles in; if you decide to go up the road to this lot, do not think you can make it in a 2WD, and in my opinion, you need a 4WD that has decent ground clearance and 4Low. Our 4Runner SR5 with Nitto Terra Grappler G2's had no issues. There are fairly good size rocks sticking up (8" or so), large divots, loose rock, and washouts that make it a road for 4WD's. We saw a Toyota Sienna try it, and they turned around in the first 1/4 mile.
The third lot is the second 4WD lot, and the road to it is a bit more challenging than to the first 4WD lot; steeper grades, bigger divots, looser rock/dirt. Again if you have a decent 4WD, (stock with frame), you will have no issues. We were lucky in that we saw only the Sienna, and then after that the trail was all ours so we could maneuver for the best lines.
The drive to the 4th parking lot is not suitable for stock 4WD's; it is extremely steep, rocks are loose and dips are big all the way up to the top, which happens to be where the Mohawk Lakes trail head begins! Almost 3 miles in.
From the trailhead, terrain is still steep, but not technically difficult, just lots of roots, and rocks to traverse on foot.and it's mostly shaded. Any person in decent physical condition should be able to complete the trail. Take your time; its about 1 1/2 miles to the lakes and fairly steep walk.
Each of the lakes and water falls are beautiful, and worth the long trek in my opinion. We did the drive/hike in late afternoon/early evening, which makes the views even better with late day/dusk light. Don't wait too long; you won't want to get caught on this trail in the dark; good opportunity for ankle turning and falling.
In summary, this trail has several stages, either with or without a vehicle. A walk up the access road is a lesson in patience, but once you get to the lakes, it makes it all worth it.