Barclay Lake: An easy hike for all ages

I’m having a hard time focusing lately, because all I want to do is hike. Hike, hike, hike.

On Tuesday, my friend Katie and I found some time to hit the trail. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to go, so we asked my daughter, 3, to decide for us. She said she wanted to see a lake, so we headed up to Barclay Lake.

Barclay Lake is an easy hike. It’s only 4 miles round trip, and the elevation gain is minimal. It’s a great hike for all ages. My daughter was the youngest on the trail that day. We also passed a group of older hikers out for the day. I was pleased to see them; I hope I’m still hiking when I’m their age.

We reached the lake quickly. Even with a toddler on my back, 2 miles goes fast. We wandered down the lake until we found a toddler-friendly beach and then settled down for a snack. My daughter spent her time throwing rocks in the water, catching pretend fish and getting her feet wet and sandy.

On the day we hiked, it rained on and off, but it never got too heavy and the trees kept us mostly dry.

The lake is still pretty high; it was amusing to look out and see a fire ring under about 3 feet of water. There is still enough beach to have a nice little break. There are several camping spots near the lake and this would make a great first backpack trip. If something went wrong, even in the middle of the night, it wouldn’t be hard to hike out the 2 miles to your car.

Part of the reason for this trip was to check out my backpack. I have a three-day trip planned soon, and I wanted to make sure my backpack still works for my daughter and I. I’m glad I did. She is too tall for it. It’s OK if she’s awake, but if she naps, her head rests against mine, and it’s horribly uncomfortable.

A bit of advice if you want to hike with your young child: get out a lot so they are comfortable sleeping on your back. (I wrote about different options for carriers here.) You could even just put them on your back at home around naptime. Or strap them in and go for a walk around the neighborhood. It makes things so much easier. It’s really, really hard to get a kid to nap outdoors otherwise. Things are too exciting. Why would you nap when there are bugs, plants and dirt to explore?

Anyways, I learned that I need a new backpack. I bought one the next day.

If you’d like to head up to Barclay Lake, it is off of U.S. 2, about milepost 41. You can find directions here.

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