Leaf Peeping in Colorado

Fall is officially here and I couldn’t be more excited! Growing up, fall has always been my favorite season. There’s just something about a chill in the air and a cup of hot apple cider that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
This is my first time celebrating fall in Colorado and I knew I had to plan a day for my husband and I to take a drive and enjoy the beautiful colors. We settled on Interlaken Trail near Twin Lakes, and it did not disappoint.

Twin Lakes is about two and a half hours from our home base in Colorado Springs and located just north of Buena Vista, a cute mountain town. We got a late start to the day but still made time to grab drinks from The Coffee Cottage in Woodland Park, another little town worth a visit. The drive to Twin Lakes was beautiful in and of itself, and we spotted lots of aspen groves that were bright golden yellow.

We finally made it to the Interlaken Trailhead around 3:30pm, which turned out to be a great time to visit as it wasn’t crazy crowded and it wasn’t too hot. Some clouds were starting to roll in which contrasted beautifully with the golden aspens.

We started to hike along the Interlaken Trail but soon decided to head straight for the shoreline of the lake. My husband brought some fishing gear and our dog Willie was super eager to explore. We wandered along the shoreline, took some family pictures, and headed back home after about an hour of meandering around.

I would love to revisit Interlaken Trail another day when we have more time to explore as I’ve heard there are some old abandoned buildings at the end of trail! All in all, I was blown away by how beautiful Colorado is this time of year, and I’m so thankful we got a chance to experience it firsthand.

Barclay Lake Revisited

Check out the original photo diary from my last visit right here!

Barclay Lake is a fantastic day hike located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. If you’re looking for a relatively short and family-friendly hike, this trail is a great option!

Pro tip: don’t forget your Northwest Forest Pass! For more information, visit fs.usda.gov.

The trailhead for Barclay Lake is located near the town of Baring at the end of a fairly rugged forest service road. This trail is super popular so make sure you arrive early to claim your spot at the trailhead parking lot. This 4.4 mile out-and-back trail departs directly from the trailhead, leading you gradually downhill through a thick forest. Eventually, you’ll begin to follow Barclay Creek, meandering your way through dense foliage.

Pro tip: If you visit on a clear day make sure to keep an eye out for some views of Mt. Baring along the way.

You’ll gain about 200 feet of elevation as you head to the lake, and after about a mile you’ll cross a bridge over Barclay Creek which is a great photo op! It won’t be long before you reach Barclay Lake itself, a picturesque Pacific Northwest lake framed by evergreens and jagged peaks.

Pro tip: be prepared for the lake’s water level to vary significantly depending on the time of year you visit. When I first visited in July 2020, the lake was fairly high, but this time around in August, it was significantly lower.

There are a number of campsites and opportunities to take a lakeside snack break as you meander around Barclay Lake. No matter where you stop for a rest or set up camp, you’ll be treated to some gorgeous views in a peaceful and serene setting.

Barclay Lake is one of my favorite hikes in Washington, and I’m sure it’ll become one of yours too! Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited Barclay Lake before and what your thoughts were.

Directions: from the town of Monroe, head east on US-2 toward Baring. After roughly 25 miles you will see The Baring Store on your right; at this junction, turn left onto 635th Place NE. You will cross over railroad tracks and soon the road will become unpaved. Follow this road for about 4 miles until you reach the Barclay Lake Trailhead. More detailed information available at WTA.org.

Mayflower Gulch Trail

I’ve been wanting to get out and take advantage of the warm weather before Colorado goes full fall mode, so I decided to explore the Mayflower Gulch Tail. This trail is located near the town of Breckenridge and will lead you along an old wagon trail to the abandoned Boston mine camp where you can roam among old cabin ruins. The trail itself is about 6.1 miles out-and-back, though you can add mileage by hiking around the gulch once you reach then cabins, and gains about 1,500′ of elevation. The trail gains elevation at a fairly moderate rate but once you reach the cabins it makes the whole hike worthwhile! Unfortunately, it was still pretty hazy from the wildfires when I took on this hike, so I’d love to return when the weather is a bit clearer.

Check out All Trails for all the info!

My Favorite Hiking Areas in Washington

If you get the opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Washington, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the hikes and amazing areas to explore. I’ve spent a good amount of time visiting and even living there and I have still only seen a tiny fraction of everything it has to offer! Today I’ll share with you some of the hiking areas in Washington that I’ve come to love so you can have some guidance for your next trip to Evergreen State!

Mount Rainier National Park

Make sure to check out the photo diary from my last visit!

This one may seem like an obvious choice, but Mount Rainier National Park is such a well-known national park for a reason. It is one of the most beautiful national parks I’ve visited and has some amazingly unique landscapes that are hard to find elsewhere in the United States. Mount Rainier itself is an incredible sight that I never get tired of seeing, and the park has tons of hikes ranging in difficulty. Not only are the views in the park amazing pretty much anywhere you go, but you’re sure to see some wildlife as well. Last time we visited we saw elk and a bear! Mount Rainier National Park is well worth the visit and a national park I think everyone should visit in their lifetime.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a massive area that includes the western region of the Cascade Mountain Range. A large portion of the national forest is located just about an hour east of Seattle, and that specific area is one of my favorites. This National Forest offers almost countless hikes ranging from fairly easy to very challenging. Some of my favorites include Heybrook Lookout, a short but steep hike to a fire tower, and Barclay Lake (check out my photo diary from that hike here)! Whether you’re in the mood for a casual hike to a stunning lake or a viewpoint of the mountains, or you’re ready for a challenging summit or scramble, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has it all!

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire state. The park is home to forests, alpine areas, a rainforest, and beaches, so it truly offers anything you could be looking for. The rainforest is an amazing place to stroll through massive trees covered in thick moss while the beaches are rocky and dramatic. As a bonus, for any Twilight fans out there, the town of Forks is located just 30-40 minutes outside of the park and is an awesome little spot to check out as well. Hikers, photographers, and fishermen alike will love this area and everything it has to offer.

Blue Lakes Trail + The Breckenridge Troll

Happy Saturday folks! We have some friends visiting from Florida and wanted to give them a taste of the mountain life so we settled on a trip up to Breckenridge. The weather was supposed to be a bit dicey but we wanted to check out some local hikes, so we decided to hope for the best and venture out despite the chance of rain. The first stop we made after arriving from Colorado Springs was the Breckenridge Troll. It’s not hard to find this guy as there are plentiful signs and even some fun footprints guiding you to his home in the woods. This ended up being more of a walk than a hike, but there were some other trails in the area if you feel like staying to explore. You’ll reach the troll in just a couple of minutes, and it is definitely a sight to behold. I couldn’t decide if he was creepy or cute, but either way, it was a really cool concept and I love how well-integrated he was with the forests around him.

Next up, we actually backtracked a bit to head to Blue Lakes Trail. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as crowds for this trailhead, but we were pleasantly surprised to see only a few other cars in the parking lot. You’ll pass one beautiful lake as you continue along the road to the upper trailhead, and from there you can either cut to the right for a steep scramble to the top, or cut left for a winding, gradual path. The upper lake was absolutely stunning – super blue, as the name suggests, and surrounded by jagged mountains. We began wandering around and it wasn’t long before we spotted a herd of mountain goats! I’ve seen mountain goats several times before, but this herd actually had a few kids which was such a cool sight. Some of us decided to head uphill for a better look at the herd (while still making sure to give them plenty of space) and along the way we also saw some marmots and pikas. It was so cool watching the herd scramble around, and we got to hear some of the kids crying to their moms which was incredible. All in all, Blue Lakes Trail was an absolutely stunning hike that I’m so glad we decided to check out.

Silver Dollar Lake

My husband and I have a friend visiting from out of town and wanted to spend a day exploring, so we decided Silver Dollar Lake would be the perfect hike! The trailhead for Silver Dollar Lake is located off Guanella Pass Road near Georgetown, CO. I actually did this hike several years ago on a family vacation, but we weren’t able to do the full hike because a storm rolled in suddenly (check out that video here)! It was really fun to return to this hike as a Colorado resident and take our friend along as well. There were some snowfields that you have to cross along the hike which left us pretty sunburnt and with some bad eyestrain, but overall, the hike was just the right level of difficulty and well worth it for the gorgeous views. After the hike we grabbed lunch at Pho Bay in Georgetown which was the perfect post-hike meal. If you’re looking for a solid day hike that will give you some good exposure to altitude, I would definitely recommend this trail!