Last week we hiked up to a peak. This week we decided to hit another hike on Bobby’s bucket list, Blanca Lake.
It’s a tough trek with over 3000 feet of elevation gain but the spectacular setting you find yourself in after a lot of hard work makes the difficult hike well worth it! We headed out Saturday morning with our friends, Jason and Stacey.
The drive to the trailhead from Seattle is a 2+ hour journey. The access to the trailhead includes a half an hour on gravel roads that were fairly potholed so be sure to keep that in mind when planning your own trip.
The trailhead wasn’t too busy, just a few other cars were there and another group was gearing up as we arrived. There is a privy at the trailhead but it was closed. Whether it was closed because it was the end of the season or because of the government shutdown we weren’t sure. The hike starts off at 1900 feet and takes you through a forest with little understory growth due to the thick canopy above. Switchbacks and elevation gain are the theme for this hike and it started almost immediately! All told I believe there is something like 37 switchbacks that must be tackled in order to reach your highpoint of the day at 4600 feet.
The understory thickened as we ascended the mountain side and we were occasionally rewarded with peekaboo viewpoints scattered along the trail. It was just enough to keep us huffing and puffing our way up, but I did find myself wishing that there was more in the way of views as we made the journey. We hit snowy patches just before our highpoint.
We did bring MicroSpikes along and snow baskets for our trekking poles but didn’t need either. We had worn our gaiters because of previous trip reports warnings, we anticipated a soggy trail but we really didn’t need them. The snow was only present along a very brief stretch of trail that was easily passed without any extra assistance. The view from the highpoint was wonderful!
Little did I know that the view we would see at the end of the hike would be even more awe-inspiring. I had chosen not to read about, nor look at any of the pictures of this hike before setting off for the day. I wanted to be surprised!
After reaching the highpoint of the day the trail begins to descend. You pass Virgin Lake, a small lake, before continuing to descend a total of 600 feet down for .5 mile over rooty and rough terrain.
You soon find yourself at the endpoint of the day, BLANCA LAKE! I feel that all caps are required to drive home the spectacular sight that BLANCA LAKE provides you!
A stunning blue/green lake with a glacier and snowcapped peaks as the back drop. Never in my life have I seen anything as beautiful as the glorious waters of this picture-perfect lake! The tremendous effort you put into this hike is completely worth it for the beauty that awaits you at the end! Supposedly there is a trail that leads around the west side of the lake. We were unable to find it but were more then happy to sit on old driftwood logs and take in the unparalleled beauty around us. We munched on some well earned snacks, snapped some great pictures, and were soon chilled enough to keep moving.
This hike takes you through two wilderness areas! Never before have Bobby and I traveled through two wilderness areas in one day, we were pretty excited! You first pass through the newest wilderness area (created in 2006), The Wild Sky Wilderness.
Followed by entering the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.
Overall I couldn’t more highly recommend doing this incredibly scenic hike! Make the effort, push through the pain, and take plenty of time to relax and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the glorious endpoint at BLANCA LAKE!
Great photos and descriptions. We’re planning on Blanca for next Monday. (Typically we go out at least once a week, usually Monday or Tuesday.)
If you’re looking for a similar trip, try Dungeon Peak up in the Ramparts. Trailhead is Lake Lillian. It’s short but steep like Blanca. If you haven’t done it and are interested, I’ll send you a trip report with pictures.
I received your report from our good friend Mike Fagin whom I assume you know…
I have read a few of your blogs. Thank you for taking the time. My sister has told me Blanca Lake is a must do hike as well and I will be doing this hike in September when my son is back in school.
I’m so glad you enjoy our blog! Blanca Lake really stands out in our minds as one of the best hikes we’ve done in WA! It’ll definitely be worth the wait until September!
What camera/lens do you guys use? Phenomenal photos.
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I didn’t make it up last year but am going Tuesday. Thought you may find this interesting. You mentioned a trail to the west. I’m not sure if conditions this time of the year allow it, but I’ll look for it and if I can’t make it up above the lake this time around I’ll come back in the summer. It looks awesome with ice caves and waterfalls.
Woah, sweet video. Thanks for sharing, Cliff! And have fun on your hike! Be sure to post a link to your picture/trip report.
And Chris, sorry I didn’t see your post until just now! We have an Olympus OMD-EM5. Most of these photos were taking with the kit 12-55mm lens. It’s weatherproof so I’m not afraid to take it out on rainy days.
Is this trail easy to follow? I’ll have to start in the dark and ive never been there before.
Hi Jermaine, the trail is pretty easy to follow but I would recommend downloading the map at the end of the post to your phone or GPS and bringing a paper map too. Also, the road is washed out so expect to hike an extra 2 miles each way just to get to the trailhead. WTA had more current trip reports than ours: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/blanca-lake. Have fun!