Area: Bandera

Length: 1.8

Elevation: 2600 +1500 -50

Condition: unmaintained

Solitude: supreme

Appeal: medium

Mason Lake
stable boulder scramble

Difficulty: moderately difficult

Administered: no

Trailhead: Ira Spring

Connects to: Ira Spring trail

Guides: SMalp

Maps: (none) USGS Bandera area



This now-abandoned trail was once the main access to Mason Lake, approximately paralleling the east side of Mason Creek. Now that the Ira Spring trail has been constructed, the thousands of boots no longer pass this way, and that is a good thing. Though shorter to reach Mason Lake in terms of miles, it is longer in all other respects — quite rough, with an intensive boulder field crossing and climb. Off-trail map and navigation skills are strongly advised.

National Recreation Pass required for the Ira Spring trailhead, even if it is already overflowing when you arrive.



Moss on old trail

Moss along the old Mason trail


Start at the Ira Spring trailhead, and follow the Ira Spring trail up the steeper grade to Mason Creek.

Cross the creek and begin the steeper grade up the other side. In about 0.2 miles, where the way begins to curve left and level a bit, a barely visible, unmarked path angles upslope to the left behind thin hardwoods. That's all there is. If you can't find it, this is not the right trail for you anyway — the Ira Spring Trail is plenty good.

The lower trail is firm and robust, with firm switchbacks in healthy salal. If you notice an apparent fork anywhere, keep to the right. At about 0.3 miles, you will see some spots of serious erosion — these motivated the new construction. The few boots that pass through today have no effect. Above the rough spots, the trail becomes increasingly pretty, with faint and even switchbacks on forest duff.

Boulder crossing

At about 1.2 miles, you reach a stable boulder field. Cross straight ahead, slightly upward, hopping from boulder to boulder all the way to the far side. Veer to the right, and stay on the side boulders, climbing about 250 feet to find an obvious notch in the timbered south-facing slope. There, you rejoin a firm but rougher and steeper piece of the old trail. After a few minor switchbacks and obstacles, the next 0.3 miles reach a more level and pleasant area in old growth, where you step over a log and rejoin the final part of the Ira Spring trail system, about 0.2 miles before reaching Mason Lake.