Temperature dropped to lower 20s at night at Silver Lake Campground. Trees started to turn colors after frosts. Virginia Lakes are high lakes at elevations above 9,800 feet. Trees might turn color earlier there because of higher elevations. So we took highway 395 north to Conway Summit and headed to Virginia Lakes.
It was a short drive from Conway Summit to Virginia Lakes. There was a small community, a campground, and a resort near Virginia Lakes. We parked by Big Virginia Lake, elevation 9,805 feet. It was a sunny afternoon and it felt warm even at this high elevation. The small parking lot was filled with vehicles. We walked down to Big Virginia Lake. Snow covered Black Mountain was the backdrop of the lake. Lots of anglers were fishing from the shore. A few boats were out on the clear water. Pines dominated the landscape. So we didn’t see much fall colors. There are 10 lakes around this area. We took a hike uphill to see some of them.
There were snow under pines along the trail. Passing the sign for Hoover Wilderness, we were in the wilderness. After a 0.2-mile hike, we came to Blue Lake, elevation 9,886 feet. The water was a dreamy diamond blue color. It was a tranquil lake with sparkles dancing on the ripples. Water appeared to be green near the shore. Only two fishermen cast their lines by the shore in the distance. It was nice to soak in this lovely view and the warm sun.
Contrast to snow laden Black Mountain, the mountains on the north side of the lake were reddish with interesting rock formations, tumbled rocks and gravels. The trail under the red mountains was a rough rocky trail. The view of Blue Lake from a higher elevation was even better. Under the azure sky, Blue Lake looked like a beautiful gem cradled by mountains. A small and deserted miners cabin sat by the trail. I heard sound of waterfall. From the higher ground, I was excited to see small slabs of glacier in the valley! Several people stood by the glacier.
Walked to the top of the waterfall, I arrived at Cooney Lake at an elevation 10,246 feet. I was sweaty after one-mile hike uphill. It was cloudy and windy up there that made me chill. There was more snow on this part of Black Mountains. Granite cliffs framed the western bank of Cooney Lake. Two dogs ran to the shore of the lake. Then voices of women came to my ears from the trail. After a while, two horses with two young ladies appeared at the turn of the trail. They kept moving on. I was thirsty and cold, so I decided to return.
A small pine stood high up on a big boulder by the trail. I climbed up there and a gorgeous view of the valley expanded beneath. I descended to the valley to see the glaciers and waterfall. There were two slabs of glacier. One on each side of Virginia Creek. The bigger glacier was about my waist high. The surface of the glacier was reddish. It probably was stained by the soil from the red mountain. The small waterfall trickled down the rocks and sang along the creek. Patches of short and dense pink flowers were beaming in the sun. What a lovely scenery! The charming sights and sounds made me linger around. That was the best moment of the hike to the charming Virginia Lakes.