A lily on Lily Pad Lake
For Lily Pad Lake, start up the wide, dirt road behind the Lily Pad sign. The road is a little steep for the kids, but it's short.
In 0.2 miles, the road bends around a curve and the trail heads toward the forest. As you hike through this section, you may be surprised to see the hundreds of trees removed here. Mountain pine beetles have destroyed 4+ million acres of trees.
You'll soon enter the dense forest.
Boardwalks help visitors cross some of the marshy areas.
Here's the sign telling hikers they've reached the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
About 0.4 of a mile from the parking lot, I heard my favorite sound -- running water. After a little exploring, I found a scenic pond in the trees with a small cascade.
Just past the pond, we found a series of three interesting bridges over the outflow from the pond.
I highly recommend avoiding this area on a windy day due to the high number of dead trees here.
But some of the trees are pretty interesting!
Suddenly, you're on a hill overlooking the pretty lake covered in lily pads and yellow blooms. Walk down to the shoreline and marvel at these blooming flowers covering the lake. However, they only bloom in spring and early summer.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says water lilies plant themselves in mud and bloom for several years. The Encyclopedia says by late summer, the majority of lily pads decay and disappear.
Walk a few more steps down the trail, over the small rise between the lakes, to the larger lake. Maps call this larger lake the Lily Pad Lake. Some visitors call them Upper and Lower Lily Pad Lake.
Decide which lake you like better, find a rock and enjoy a snack before returning the way you came.
The hike to Lily Pad Lake and back, with a little exploring, is about 3.3 miles with 400 feet of elevation gain. The hike is at 9,800-10,000 feet, so it may be a little hard to catch your breath on the hills.