After you have taken the youngest hiker in your family around Sly Park, or up to Granite Lake, what’s next?
The trailhead for Lake Margaret is just east of the Kirkwood Cross Country Center on Highway 88. The entire 5 mile round trip hike is a series of gentle ups and downs and starts with a bit of a steepish descent past a vigorous creek. Before arriving at the creek, which is Caples Creek, the trail forks. Go left.
That downed tree that spans the creek is how you get to the other side. Walk across the log, crawl, any way you want. Dry … is a good method.
The trail meanders through soft forest floor, over exposed granite, and through some rock gardens. The trail is relatively well-marked with ducks and blazes. Ducks are generally a stack of 3 small rocks while Blazes are vertical rectangles, about 4 inches wide and a foot long, carved into the bark of a tree. Look for these to guide you.
About three quarters of the way there is a thicket of aspen trees, a special part of the hike and just plain beautiful.
Not too long after you’ll arrive at Lake Margaret. There are multiple places to plop down and relax.
At this time of year, the lake is very full. You have to hike either over granite or through the forest to get to most of the shoreline. Later on, when the lake level has dropped, it’s just a walk along the shore.
Your little hikers will enjoy scrambling on the granite or taking a dip in the lake. It is a bit cold, but it’s a good cool down.
At a comfortable pace, the hike will take perhaps an hour and a half to two. Take time to notice some wildflowers in bloom.
On the way back, when you get to that steepish descent that started the hike you are mere moments away from arriving back at the trailhead. The young hiker in your group will be tired, but happy.