Sunday, May 22, 2016

Northwest Mountain Lake Hikes: Bucolic Barclay Lake

Who doesn't love a pristine mountain lake fringed by thick evergreen forest? 

Add a persistent spring rain dappling its otherwise placid surface and misty clouds hanging just overhead. This, IMO, is a perfect antidote for the stresses of modern life. 

And yes, we're out of cell range up here too.

This morning's hike to Barclay Lake off Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass was wet, muddy, rich with brilliant spring green shrubs lining the trail, and relatively quiet. (See recent blog post about being outdoors/hiking in the rain.)

Give me an outdoors church of forest, rain, and a mountain stream/lake any Sunday morning.

This relatively easy hike, just a little over 4 miles round trip and less than 1,000 feet gained in elevation, gets pretty heavy use during the summer/fall. It offers a lot of bang for your hiking buck, so to speak.  

Enroute to the lake, we pass through lush, moss-draped forest, skirt trees growing snake-like over huge boulders, and cross a rustic log bridge over a lovely mountain stream.

While the trail is in decent shape, on this rainy day we have to tread carefully around numerous muddy spots, sidestepping the worst of the muck. But that's all part of the game, right?

On this damp morning, a few hikers pass us coming down after camping overnight at the lake. But most of the hike up it's just our group (the Alpine Trails Book Club, organized by blogger Ashley of Alpine Lily).

Closer to and around the lake we notice a lot of downed trees along the trail, evidence of the winter recently passed. 

At the lake we sit huddled beneath some hemlock trees to blunt the steady rain. After about 20-30 minutes of snacking and book discussion, we get chilled and start back down.

On the way down we pass a few families with kids coming up (great hike for kids, not too long). And us bloggers have to stop and shoot the profusion of green, slick wet with the diminishing rain.

By the time we get back to the trailhead a little less than three hours after we started, a few more cars are spilling down the gravel road from the small parking area. On a sunny day, quadruple the cars.

Surprisingly, I think this was my first time to Barclay Lake. I used to blow past lower, shorter hikes on my way to longer, farther, higher. But since coming back from debilitating and chronic tedonitis, I've been appreciating these more mellow gems. 

How about you? Do you have another favorite lake hike?

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news. 

Also joining the hike today were fellow bloggers A Day Without Rain and Tiny Pines. Check out their great Northwest blogs too!

When You Go

The Barclay Lake trailhead is about a 90-minute drive from Seattle during low-traffic periods (e.g., early weekend mornings).  You can find a topo map and driving directions here. I've found that mileage and elevation gain vary between different websites, but it's about 4.4 - 4.5 miles RT. The 4.2-mile dirt Forest Service road up has some pretty nasty potholes as of May 2016, so go slow and watch out for them. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead. There is a bathroom (of course not a flush toilet) at the trailhead.

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