Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Backpacking with kids in the Rubies
My husband and I recently took our kids for their first backpacking trip. At 9 and 10, it was a grand adventure for those guys... well worth the effort it took to make it happen.
There are several options for folks wanting to get their kids out in the Rubies, but I think that three of them, in particular, are just about perfect.
Lamoille Lake and Island Lake are each about two miles one way, with relatively minimal elevation gain. There are good campsites at both lakes, as well as plenty of trout for the kids to chase. I've swum in both lakes, and they're both cold... but on a hot summer's day they're entirely doable, at least if you have a kid's enthusiasm for swimming. Alas, I am afraid that my alpine-lake-swimming days are likely over.
In any event, the trailheads for both are at road's end in Lamoille Canyon.
The third primo kid trip, IMHO, is Smith Lake near Wells. Smith Lake is in the East Humboldt range (OK, not technically the Rubies, but close enough for government work.) The USFS recently re-did that trail and it's very kid friendly these days. Smith Lake is about a mile one way from the trailhead at Angel Lake. There are, again, good campsites and plenty of trout at Smith Lake. The lake itself is in a really beautiful glacial cirque... a great opportunity to show "glacier tracks" to your kids. To reach Angel Lake, take the west Wells exit off of I-80, head south and follow the signs.
And, FWIW, make sure they have a backpack. One of your daypacks will probably fit... cinch it down tight so that it fits reasonably, and put their clothes and snacks in it. Keep it light. Giving them a pack to carry makes them part of the trip, much more so than would be otherwise.