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Katie, John, and I decided it would be fun to go on a day hike while we were camping along Barlow Creek on Saturday. We set off for Catalpa Lake from Barlow Creek campground following Bonney Meadows trail #471. This trail intersects Catalpa Lake trail #535 just before it ends at FS road 250. The hike is approximately 5 miles round-trip with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We had heard that the snowpack was around 3,500 feet, so we were fully prepared to spend half our hike in the snow (Catalpa Lake is at 4,105 ft.). The weather was wonderful with sunny skies, light winds, and a temperature in the 60s F.
From Barlow Creek campground, the Bonney Meadows trail crosses Barlow Creek. There is an old bridge here that collapsed years ago. It is still possible to cross it very carefully, holding onto the upstream edge of the bridge. Our lab Bella had no problem crossing and couldn't figure out what was taking us so long. Once on the other side of Barlow Creek, the trail picks up after a short stretch on a gravel road.
The trail steadily climbs and gains most of its elevation over the first two miles. There are a couple of small streams that run over the trail, but they are easily passable.
We didn't find snow until about 3,900 feet elevation as we hiked along Green Lake Creek. The shaded canyon holds snow longer than the more exposed parts of the trail we had come from. At first there were just patches of snow, but as we crossed Green Lake Creek, we found the ground covered in a couple feet of snow. We completely lost the trail by this point and navigated with the aid of a GPS.
After some bushwhacking, we finally arrived at Catalpa Lake. The water was a beautiful teal color and crystal clear. As soon as we arrived, Bella excitedly ran in for a swim in the cold, clear water. We found a primitive campsite near the edge of a large talus slope where we enjoyed lunch in the afternoon sun.
While exploring the lake's edge, Katie spotted a juvenile trout. I read that the lake is only about eight feet deep and couldn't find any information on fishing, so I was happy to see the small trout. That means there must be a few larger ones swimming around. I might have to bring my fishing rod next time. We also spotted numerous Rough-skinned newts in the water.
Before heading back, I scrambled about 500 vertical feet up the talus slope to take a few photos of Catalpa Lake from above. The view was great and I could see the entire lake as well as the surrounding ridges. If I had continued up the mountain, I would have eventually found Frog Lake Buttes. Since no one else wanted to climb with me, I decided to save it for another day.
On the hike back we were able to follow the trail the entire way. If summer is really here, most of the snow we saw this weekend will be gone in a week or two.