Bat Lake is a 5.8km loop trail. A healthy person should be able to finish it in approximately 3-4 hours on snowshoes or ice crampons. The Bat Lake parking lot is maintained and plowed throughout the winter. If an emergency occurs on the trail your car will be parked in a convenient area for EMS to respond to. If you’ve finished some of the easier winter trails like Spruce Bog, Big Pines, and the Logging Museum, and you’re looking to challenge yourself, Bat lake is an excellent intermediate snowshoe/ice hiking experience.
Here are some of my highlights from the Bat Lake Snowshoe experience:
1. Bat Lake Ice Cave
There’s a small ice cave at approximately the half way point of the trail. The trail goes through a valley, and at one point, you will see a ridge covered in ice and snow. Approach the ice cave cautiously, and be wary of any possible falling ice. The ice cave probably reaches its peak in March when we experience more thawing and freezing, really amplifying the size of the ice cave. It’s really cool!
2. Bat Lake Valley
If you have GPS, are very experienced, and have advanced gear, off-trail snowshoeing in “Bat Lake Valley” is exceptional. Bat Lake Valley is not marked or identified anywhere. Where is it? Moments before you stumble upon the ice cave, you will find yourself along a river in a valley, and that’s it! The landscape rises to the left and right of the trail. I recommend to climb up the slope on the left side of the trail. You will be treated to panoramic views of Bat Lake Valley, and you can even see Lake of Two Rivers far in the distance through the trees!
Bat Lake Trail follows the river which flows in the bottom of the valley. Follow your GPS to the river, or follow your tracks back to the main trail. Remember, off-trail snowshoeing is very risky because it increases your chances of getting lost, which is why I don’t recommend it for ill-equipped beginners. For conservation reasons I do not recommend off-trail hiking in summer, spring, or autumn. In fact, off-trail hiking is best during the winter when, with the help of snowshoes, you can “float” on top of a thick layer of snow. The snowshoe experience allows you traverse through the forest without damaging vegetation.
3. Scenic Lookout Over Bat Lake
Bat Lake features a scenic lookout. It’s not quite as majestic as what you’d see on Lookout, Centennial Ridges or Leaf Lake Ski Trail, but it’s still a wonderful view that begs you to sit for 5 minutes, reflect, hydrate, and perhaps eat an energizing snack. There’s even a bench to sit on! This lookout is a definite treat.
Bat Lake is a solid intermediate trail that makes for a great day excursion. If you’re experienced you could probably manage to complete both Bat Lake and Two Rivers Trail in one day. Beginners that are pushing their boundaries will find Bat Lake to be an epic day-long trip. In all honesty this trail is better in the winter, the ice cave alone is worth the experience.
Peace and love from Whitney, and Happy Trails!
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