Our Hiking Time: 2h
Total Ascent: 225ft
Highest Point: 2500ft
Total Distance: 4.4 miles
Location: N 47° 47.0400, W 121° 25.5000
Required Permit: Northwest Forest Pass
Although we’re still not completely done with everything we want to do in the I-90 corridor, our focus is slowly shifting northward. Our hike this week was another tentative foray down Highway 2 in search of a new swath of forest to explore. We found exactly what we were looking for in a short hike out to Barclay Lake and an official introduction to the Wild Sky Wilderness.
The 106,577-acre Wild Sky Wilderness is less than two years old, and parts of it are still winding through the bureaucratic process of being turned over to the Forest Service. Some portions of the Wild Sky are still old growth and truly wild, while others have been logged as recently as the late-60s. In doing a little research, we found that Barclay Lake was not our first time in the Wild Sky Wilderness, which evidently also encompasses Lake Isabel as well.
The Barclay Creek Trail #1055 sits at the end of Forest Road 6024, and is a largely flat, simple trail that follows Barclay Creek for a little over 2 miles to its source, Barclay Lake. Wide and well groomed, the trail wanders past root-wrapped rocks, venerable hemlocks, and moss carpeted undergrowth. Cedar boardwalks occasionally keep boots out of marshy stretches in the trail, and a sturdy log bridge spans Barclay Creek as you approach the lake. Gunn Peak flanks the trail to the north, eventually giving rise to Merchant Peak as you near Barclay Lake. Occasionally Baring Mountain can be seen through the trees, waiting to reveal its craggy features once you reach the lakeside.
Barclay Lake lies in a quiet bowl between Merchant Peak and Baring Mountain, somehow giving one the feeling of being deep in the wilderness. Between the well-maintained trail and abundance of campsites – not to mention two pit toilets – it’s clear that Barclay Lake gets a lot of visitors in the warmer months. Standing on the lakeshore it is not hard to understand why. Not only is it peaceful, but the dramatic spire of Baring dominates the scene. Moreover, a short trail capable of transporting the whole family into the wilderness with the minimum of effort adds to the allure. For those looking to climb Baring or continue on to bigger adventures, Barclay Lake makes for a great base camp. For our part, this little trail exposed us to the Wild Sky Wilderness and the potential for dozens of hikes in the immediate vicinity, many of which are sure to be challenging and a bit off the beaten path.
To get there, take Highway 2 to Baring. Near milepost 41 and across from a store, turn left onto 635th up and over the railroad tracks. Asphalt will quickly turn to gravel before shortly coming to a junction. Turn left up Forest Road 6024 and proceed for 4.2 miles to the trailhead at roads end. -Nathan
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