We did it, we hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail!! It wasn’t far but it was awe inspiring 🙂 I don’t know if the other moms knew how elated I was but, I was 😀
I’ll start from the beginning. Some of the moms, who I have become friends with through a local kids hiking group,had asked me to put together a kid friendly camp-out. I had remembered passing Frog Lake on the way back from Bend a few weeks ago and thinking “I have to go there, I just have to!”..not only because of the name (and reputation for the countless frogs croaking at night) but because it also had the words PCT Trail on the sign. I’ve been talking & talking about starting short PCT trips so I figures this was the best place to start. So we packed up our gear and headed out..swim suits check, kayaks check, hiking shoes check.
The campground at Frog lake was nice, and our sites were semi-private & large. If I was going solo I would choose #13 for its privacy, flat ground and proximity to the lake trail (we had #28 & #29, but I think 29 & 30 would be better for a kiddo group because 29 had lotsa cool logs to crawl through and climb in.. and 30 was large and flat, but cozy and private). The lake is a quick walk down the path near site #12 (accessible to everyone), there are 3 bathrooms (so not to far for the lil’ ones..or the beer drinkers) that were well kept and not stanky at all, and no mosquitoes! As for swimming, I would recommend the day use side because the side near the campground is a little squishy, but the kids loved it and if you can get past that icky squishy feeling you can swim right out to the middle. From the campground side it stays fairly shallow for quite a ways, I don’t think the middle is any deeper than 10 feet or so, and the water was pretty pleasant. There were tiny frogs everywhere too! I heard a gaggle of kids saying they had caught about 75 of them..poor frogs, but what can ya do besides tell them to make sure they let them go when they’re done because “How would you like to be taken from your home and put in a box?”…which is what another mom had also said to them before me lol.
Okay so to the PCT! You can walk to it (a good 5-10 minute walk) from the campground, but we drove down the camp road to the trail-head cuz we have little ones all under 5 years old, and lets face it 4 miles of hiking is so much harder when you add a 10 minute walk (25 in toodling kid time) JUST to get there. I met a couple of guys, looked like father & son duo, who had started on the Mexico border and were headed to the Canada border..I wanted to hug them but I didn’t, I think they were kinda weirded out by how much I was smiling! *Seriously, it was like another world..not that it looked any different from other Oregon hikes, but just for the fact of where this trail can take you and how many other souls searching for meaning had walked it 😉
Park at the Frog Lake Sno-Park area ($5 day use, or use your campground permit, or if you have a Rec/Forest pass then there ya go!), the trail starts by the bathroom. I think it is marked Barlow Pass or something like that, I don’t remember it saying anything about the PCT at the Trail-head but the thru-hikers assured me it was, There is a map there too. From there it is an easy 1.5 mile hike up..yes it is uphill, but if a 3 & 4 year old can do so can you..to the turnoff for Lower Twin Lake (this part of the trail is not the PCT), which is only another half mile downhill, yay! Lower Twin Lake was a bit chilly, was worth it. We cooled off, walked out on logs, checked out some alien looking bugs, and picnicked. There was even a father/sons combo who had tied some logs together and were floating around the lake! There are plenty of free camping spots (no bathrooms) around the lake, a trail that circles it, and from there you can continue another half mile to Upper Twin lake. The kids had a good time, no real melt downs ( I have to think that the handful of Dum-Dums helped with that hehe), and all the moms were grateful (I think!?!) to have done such an adventure, especially with kiddos in tow.
I would highly recommend the Lower Twin Lakes hike for a hike-in camp experience!!
On the last day we headed to the Day Use area ($5, or parking passes mentioned above) which has bathrooms & picnic tables, and busted out the kayak to float around Frog Lake. It was shallow with rocks and logs around the perimeter (fun for exploring on the kayak with lil’ ones!), but got deep enough to float pretty quickly. We paddled out to a stick sticking up in the middle of the lake and could see Mt. Hood in all its shiny whiteness. The picture above is my view from the back of the kayak at the stick 🙂 I could see the bottom from the stick, so if I had to guess how deep it was I would say 8-10 feet.
Overall it was a great place to get outta town (less than an hour from Sandy, and about 10 minutes from Government camp..oh and cell service if you have Verizon, plus the camp-host sells firewood) and test out camping & kayaking with the kids. If it’s not their thing, you can swim, or do some nature exploring on the trail around the lake (I think you can even take that trail (Frog Lake Butte Trail??) to the PCT or the Twin Lakes trails, but I don’t think its little kid friendly..there are a couple blogs online that mention it so I would recommend checking them out first.), or just hang out at camp and go catch some frogs & play in the mud 🙂