hiking to barclay lake photography washington

An idyllic Washington sunset hiking to Barclay Lake

As the snow slowly melts and summer approaches the Washington Cascades, it’s not always easy to find gems that are accessible. Luckily, hiking to Barclay Lake is doable due to its low elevation and warmer temperatures. This makes it an excellent option for those looking for an easy yet beautiful hike. The Barclay Lake trail is a little over four miles round trip and easy in difficulty. I honestly don’t think we broke much of a sweat hiking up.

Once we arrived, I realized why this is such a fan favorite—Barring Mountain towers over the lake in an imposing yet majestic fashion.

hiking to barclay lake trail

Related: Looking for Washington’s top hikes? Click here.

Hiking the Barclay Lake trail

Details of the hike to Barclay Lake:

Distance: 4 miles round trip on the Barclay Lake trail

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Location: 90 minutes from Seattle, between Index and Skykomish on Highway 2

What to know about hiking Barclay Lake

Where is Barclay Lake Located?

Barclay Lake is located about 25 minutes past Index, WA, along Highway 2. In all, it takes about 90 minutes to drive there, with four miles on a dirt road once you exit the highway.

The dirt road heading in is not great for low-clearance cars, though some were in the parking lot. The biggest issue on the road is the first 100 yards, where the potholes are large and numerous. However, I’m sure if you take your time and are okay with some ground-to-car contact, you’ll be able to make it.

hiking to barclay lake photography washington

How long does it take to hike Barclay Lake?

The Barclay Lake trail is moderate, quick, and easy for the entire family. It took my group 40 minutes to complete the two miles and reach the lake. There are no confusing sections or areas of concern. Most people will stop at the first view of the lake – which is nice – but to find some solitude, keep walking, and you’ll see some other spots to hang out!

When is the best time to hike Barclay Lake?

With a trailhead elevation of 2,300 feet, this is a lower-level lake that offers hiking at an earlier time versus other lakes in the region. It could theoretically be accessed year-round, depending on your car and how comfortably you are driving in the snow to the trailhead. Overall, I’d say by late May, this trail should be good to hike. But be ready for some mud.

washington hikes barclay lake trail

Photography Tips on the Barclay Lake Trail:

  • Sunset is the best time to do this Washington hike to Barclay Lake. As the sun drops, the rays illuminate the trees and Barring Mountain in stunning soft light.
  • I recommend hiking about 2/3s of the way around the lake, where you’ll have a better view of the enormous peak in front of you. You’ll find a log you can walk on and create beautiful photos here.
  • Bring your widest-angle lens to capture the entire scene.
  • Wading into the water to the left of the log will give you a clear foreground.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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