In 1978 my grandparents purchased a small cabin in Shaver Lake, CA. I was born in 1980, so I grew up in the cabin. I celebrated my first birthday there, spent countless summer days exploring and houseboating, Mike and I got engaged on a hike while staying there and we even announced our pregnancy with Ry there on Christmas Day. What I love most about the cabin though, is that it is a retreat that gives us a place to stay while we explore the great outdoors.
A few weekends ago we took the girls on a hike to Indian Pools, a hiking trail near Huntington Lake just a short drive up the 168 from Shaver Lake. The trail starts in the very back parking lot at China Peak Ski Resort. There wasn’t a sign at the trail head when we were there, but if you keep driving through the resort until you get to a gravel parking lot in the back and park the closest to the forest that you can, you should see the trail. The hike itself is 4.3 miles round trip, but we probably ended up hiking a total of 3 miles.
The trail follows Big Creek and the water was rushing when we were there. There have been other times we have done this hike where there was a trickle of water though.
We don’t have a lot of gadgets or gear when we go hiking, but the one thing we got for the kids is their CamelBak Scout Hydration Pack. Although a bit on the pricey side for a kids backpack, hydration bladders are absolutely key for us to keep the kids hydrated. They carry their own water, which is readily available to them without having to stop and get in their packs. The bite valve has a shut off switch so there is no dripping water along the way getting them wet and wasting water. The pack also has a chest strap so the pack stays put and doesn’t fall off. Having them carry their own snack and a light layer is not only convenient for us, it makes them feel like big kids.
A word of caution, the trail does get a little obscure in some areas. Not enough that you would get lost, as long as you follow the creek you will be fine, but enough so that you might end up doing some scrambling along the rocks. We had moments of the kids being challenged by the terrain, but nothing they couldn’t handle. Just something to keep in mind.
We followed the creek for about a mile and a half before we stopped for lunch next to the creek. We didn’t have anything fancy to eat, just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix and crackers but stopping at regular intervals helps the kids recover for the next part of the trip and let’s them have a bit of fun.
After a quick bite, we dropped our packs and continued exploring up the trail to the falls. This was a really beautiful area to stop. It was shaded and there were large pools to dip your feet in. It is always important to remain vigilant around water, especially fast moving water when you have little ones but one of the simple joys of hiking is putting your hot, tired feet in ice cold snow melt water. It is invigorating.
We explored the waterfall a little more closely, it seemed to keep going and going further back and I was eager to explore more, but we still had the hike back and we didn’t want to push the kids too hard so we will have to save that for next time. It is always a good reason to go back and hike it again when you leave a little on the table like that.
Before heading back we made some great finds along the waters edge. The drift wood had been smoothed beautifully from the pounding water and we even uncovered an arrowhead which was really special!
At this point Scout was having a bit of a rough time. Her little legs were tired and she had tripped and put a small gash in her hand. Riley wasn’t tired (and hadn’t fallen into the creek yet) so she wanted to explore the meadow next to the trail with me.
The meadow was beautiful and Ry and I were having a great time running around and hugging trees, until Ry lost her footing crossing a stream and got wet. With two grumpy kids it was definitely time to head back! We got them back in good spirits by singing songs and keeping it light the rest of the way to the car.
We were probably out on the trail about 3.5-4 hours. This seems to be the sweet spot for the girls right now for hiking time. Ry could probably go longer, but Scout certainly holds her own as well. What makes this hike great and family friendly is that it is an out and back hike so you can go for as far or as long as you please. There is not a lot of elevation gain which makes it less challenging and taxing. There is some scrambling though and the trail isn’t always clearly marked, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from exploring the trail with your family. If you are in the Shaver Lake or Huntington Lake area, this is a great hike to check out.