Blanca Lake

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

North Cascades, Washington

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Blanca Lake

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  • Logs laying across a road washout.- Blanca Lake
  • Glacier Peak.- Blanca Lake
  • Sunsetting in the meadows on the hike to Blaca Lake.- Blanca Lake
  • Light trails by the lake.- Blanca Lake
  • Columbia Glacier on other side of Blanca Lake.- Blanca Lake
  • Blanca Lake from above the trail.- Blanca Lake
  • Keyes Peak.- Blanca Lake
  • Start of Troublesome Creek.- Blanca Lake
  • Meadows with wildflowers.- Blanca Lake
  • Meadows for camping near Blanca Lake.- Blanca Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful lake and meadows. Solitude. Great mountain views.
Cons: 
Rough roads. Limited parking. Steep hike.
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Alerts: 
Due to washouts along the road, the trail starts 2 miles from the trailhead. This makes the hike 11.5 miles instead of the normal 7.5 miles. The road is closed indefinitely. Parking is just next to the road closed sign.
Region:
North Cascades, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
3,030.00 ft (923.54 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
7.50 mi (12.07 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,960.00 ft (597.41 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Blanca Lake is one of the most vibrant lakes in the Cascades. The amazing blue-green colored water of the lake makes this steep hike well worth it. The minerals from Monte Cristo, Keyes, and Columbia Peak make Blanca take on its amazing colors, and backcountry campsites in the area make this a great option for a weekend in the mountains.

The challenging trail starts climbing in the first few hundred feet. The route gains about 1,000 feet per mile for almost 3 miles, making this a steep hike with many switchbacks. For the last mile there are huckleberries that bloom in the spring and summer and that will continue all the way to the meadows. The trail runs into a steep rock wall that requires a small scramble to reach the top. On a clear day there are views of Glacier Peak just to the right. From here the trail levels out as it proceeds along a ridge until it reaches the meadows.

At the meadows you'll find many open grassy areas that are used for camping and have wildflowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The trail starts to descend as it leads to more meadows near Virgin Lake, an algae rich lake with great reflections on calm days. The trail descends about 500 feet for the next 0.5 miles to Blanca Lake. The trail is near its end once the views of the lake appear. Continue along the trail to the shore with many log jams that are good for sitting or dipping your feet in the cold glacier water. On the return, remember there is still a steep 500-foot gain to crest the ridge before your descent to the trailhead.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(54 within a 30 mile radius)

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

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