Blue Canyon Lake

HARD 55 reviews
#1 of 18 trails in

Blue Canyon Lake is a 3.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,194 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips

bird watching






wild flowers




Steep incline hike in the Emigrant Wilderness starting at Sonora Pass (108) and ending at Blue canyon lake, a glacial tarn sitting bellow a series of beautiful peaks. No trail head marker exists at the beginning but the single track begins at the parking turnout. Trail has several stream crossings and depending on the season snow and snow shelves may conceal the trail and creeks running below. Trail can become unclear in rocky areas so be observant of cairns or other signs indicating the route.

6 days ago

Skiing, Aug 11th 2019

14 days ago

Swam in a lake with icebergs floating in it ... check!

no shade
19 days ago

Hiked today 7/28. The trail is super open/ not shaded but is cooler with the wind coming off the snow. There are some difficult portions currently with higher than normal creek flow and walking along snow/ losing the trail. In the section where there is typically a large/steep ravine that you go down and then come back up, this section is entirely filled with snow. Just walk on the snow in the ravine upstream until you reach the trail again. Also, the waterfalls are amazing, there is still ice on the lake, and the hike is super beautiful!

19 days ago

I would definitely recommend this trail to anyone looking for a day trip or even a backpacking trip. The lake was peaceful and not a lot of people were there. There’s a lot of bugs at the beginning so I recommend preparing for that, and several water crossings but the hike is definitely worth it!

22 days ago

A hidden gem! Snow has retreated enough to make the hike very accessible, and it's simply beautiful all along, with open views along the valley, the many streams running down, and snow-covered peaks all around. The lake still has some ice and snow in it, but swimming is possible. Very refreshing quick dip!

24 days ago

Fantastic view, perfectly clear very blue lake. Lots of wildflowers and a couple stream crossing. One very tough steep spot with loose bits of gravel. A perfect hike. I always go between April and August and has been fine. Level of snow depends on how snowy the season was.

off trail
1 month ago

Completed this trail on July 7th. park just before the 9000 feet elevation signboard. walk down and you'll need to cross the water stream. The hike starts there. Due to significant amount of snow, the trail was not visible at all! Got lost a bunch of times. Steep elevation gain at several points in the hike, if there is no snowfall these might be easier. The lake is frozen. August or September might be a good time to visit.

1 month ago

One of my current favorite hikes off HWY108. You start at just under 9000ft. and gain over 1000 feet by the time you get to the lake. We went up Sunday afternoon on a whim...last minute idea of a friend of mine over lunch. Hit the trail at 5:30pm so we were only able to get half way to the lake before we need to turn around due to daylight fading. I've done this Trail in just around two hours but with all the snow it certainly made the going much slower. The only way we could access the trail from 108 was by hiking back down the road from where we parked the 9000 foot road marker and crossing a snow Bridge. going up this time of year you do need to be familiar with the terrain to avoid crevasses and thin snow bridges. definitely recommend it this time of year if you're up for the task of scrambling over snow it was a lot of fun! But be careful!

cross country skiing
2 months ago

Great trail for backcountry skiing with plenty of water springs. We skied up from the road and set camp by the lake for 2 days. We have skied up a few peaks in the area including Leavitt Peak. We skied east side slopes in the morning as they were the first to get heated by the sun. We turned to other slopes in the afternoon. Going up Leavitt was great and the skiing down even better

9 months ago

I hiked this trail today, 20 October 2018. This trail and lake are gorgeous! The route is a manageable distance and elevation change, but the altitude slowed me down more than I expected. I imagine this lake being absolutely stunning on a sunny day (needs sun to be bright blue!) after a light snow. The sky today was clear and the lake was incredible. It’s not a massive lake, but definitely big enough for dogs and brave people to swim around and enjoy. The river, flowers, and icy waterfalls on the way were beautiful as well. Trail: The AllTrails directions will get you to the exact trailhead parking. Start your app where you have service and keep it on if you’d like to double check your progress to the lake. You’ll park along the road before the “9000 ft elevation” sign. Walk down the hill and cross the creek. You should see the trail go back up and over. The creeks were passable at this time without getting wet (as long as you can jump or rock walk, but it still isn’t that intense). Keep in mind that they’ll be a bit fuller and faster later in the day as the ice melts. I found the trail to be easily followable. The path is well worn, and even at spots that were briefly uncertain, the area is clear enough to look on and see where you need to go. It’s a fairly straight trail anyway, you could point-and-shoot/river walk your way there easily. The hardest part was a bit of a rock slide scramble, but it was manageable. There was no ice or snow today to deal with. The only confusing part I got to was the last plateau of elevation before the last few tenths of a mile. The trail kind of abruptly ended at a step ridge, and it wasn’t obvious to me whether I was supposed to go over it or to head down the cliff side to the river. I realized that dropping down to the river was the correct way after a bit of bumbling around the ridge figuring the river will get me there anyway. The drop to the river was a bit harrowing at first, but there are plenty of rocks to make multiple points of contact on so you don’t totally eat it. From there, it was an easy walk up the river/trail to the lake. The walk back is obviously just as simple. You can see the road once you’re halfway back. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s really really hard to get lost. There are opportunities to take a harder path over some rocks of course. My dog always found an easier way it seemed! Overall, I thought this trail was moderate for someone in reasonable shape who can handle some climbing or at least butt scooting up and down rocks. It would’ve been easy if it weren’t for the altitude and those two spots that were a bit difficult to traverse. Time: I left the trailhead at 7:45 AM, about 20 minutes after sunrise. No one else was parked there, and I had about two hours to myself at the lake before heading back. I didn’t pass anyone else until about 11:15 when I was almost back to my car. At that point the lot was almost full and about 5 people were headed to the lake. Leaving that early was nice because it was definitely bright enough to see, but the ridge shaded the trail (there are no trees) on the way up. Once I got to the lake, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the sun to hit the lake and reflect it’s gorgeous blue. Dogs: My hiking buddy today was my 16 month old lab mix. Apparently these trails require dogs to be on leash, but there were a few times I had to let him off so that we could safely negotiate the rock scrambles and creek crossings without messing each other up. I recommend having your pup wear a harness. It’s far easier for humans to scoot down steep ridges without forward momentum sending you over, and I had to pull on him a few times to help him brake. Of course he jumped rocks, creeks, and swam in the lake like a CHAMP. Keep this in mind if your dog is not the best on off leash recall, or if they’re not the most agile. Your dog will need supervision/coaching, especially on those steep parts I mentioned. Also, check their paws for scratches/blisters. Apply paw wax before leaving if they aren’t used to walking on rocks. Bring: Layers! It was in the 40s when I started hiking. About halfway, I got hot enough to shed the jacket and balaclava. It was also a tad windy at the lake. Sunscreen. There is no shade after about 1030 AM. Snacks. I like to bring dried fruit at high altitudes. There didn’t appear to be wildlife threats keeping people from bringing small snacks. I did not bring my dogs meat snacks though. Water. I had a 2.5 liter camelbak that more than lasted me. My dog had some, but mostly preferred the cold, fresh river water to the lodge tap water (I don’t blame him). Actual hiking boots. You’ll need them when avoiding slippery small rock slides while gripping onto bigger rocks that are cold or slick in the creek. Also, some rock spots are ankle breakers. I think poles are unnecessary, if not inconvenient. I needed my hands free for the rock scrambles. Enjoy!

10 months ago

This trail is easily one of my top trails to visit again. Just did this trail yesterday and the view was amazing. The hike might be short but man it was tough, but totally worth it. Recommend 5/5 stars!

10 months ago

took about 1.25 hours to hike to the lake, some loose uphill but not bad at all. the lake was beautiful, some bees were around but not enough to disrupt the view. 10/10 would recommend!

11 months ago

Amazing! Great hike not for the beginner. So beautiful the water is so blue, along the trail you’ll see waterfalls, wild flowers and beautiful rock formations. I’m ready to do it again!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

gorgeous hike with wildflowers and a big green lake. the stream crossings are super manageable this time of year but be aware of high risk for forest fires. we backpacked in and had the whole lake to ourselves. dog friendly!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Trail was absolutely breathtaking. So many beautiful wild flowers. A few very challenging areas where climbing or crossing creeks required the help of friends. Definitely worth the challenge!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I went to Blue Ridge Lake today. if you don't mind a little high elevation and a little bit of rock scrambling this is an absolutely beautiful Trail flowers were everywhere however I will warn you to parking lot is fairly small. this off limits the amount of people going out to the lake which is nice because it's not a big late but it is stunning against the mountains in the snow.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Beautiful Hike!! Struggled with hiking in the high elevation but so worth it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Did this hike a year ago and I’m so excited to do it again! The views and geologic history of the canyon fascinate me and the lake itself was so serene and peaceful. I recommend this to everyone I meet!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Blue Canyon Lake is a stunning turquoise blue - worth the climb! Please be prepared for many stream crossings and getting your feet wet this time of year(June/July); trusty hiking boots are a must on this slippery gravel/talus trail. This trail is not for the faint of heart as there are some sections that require light scrambling. I don't recommend this hike for beginners primarily due to the stream crossings, scrambling sections and the ~1200ft gain in a short 1.8 miles. Also, the trail is not well-marked with signage and there are a few deceiving pseudo trails - follow the cairns and you'll be just fine! With the right preparation and determination, I do think anyone could ultimately tackle this breathtaking trail. Please be safe and always pack out what you pack in. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beautiful hike, very steep and some areas of the trail was under snow. No markings or signs of a trail head at the start. It appears on Topo as being in the Emigrant Wilderness but only a broken post remains a short way in. The trail is not always clear and a few alt routes to get around obstacles were present if observant. Lake was about 75% frozen 6/24/18. Enjoyable and remote despite its closeness to 108.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hiked this today, there were a couple very manageable stream crossings but we did have to take off our boots for one of them. After one of the stream crossings, there is a false trail leading off to the left that eventually falls away; we put rocks across the path and built a few cairns to mark the right trail. I'd suggest a topo map to help make sure you're on the right track.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Went yesterday. I would give it at least a week. These are the first hot days on the pass and the watershed made the creeks dangerous at best and snow bridges are a no go. We passed 2 groups that had turned around bc they werent able to find a safe crossing. Still lots of ice/summer snow covering the trail so wear waterproof boots. By the time we hiked up to a point that we would have been able to wade across(.75mi further) we ran out of time. Bummer because we were really looking forward to the destination. We'll be giving it another go after the snow and rivers work things out a little.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Went there yesterday. There is a wide and pretty deep Creek you have to cross at the beginning of the bridge I could see. and there is tons of snow on the trail as well currently

Friday, November 17, 2017

Awesome trail. Good up hill the way there. The lake is beautiful. I did it 2 weeks ago and the snow wasn't bad at all. A little here and there. The trail was pretty easy to stay on.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A little icy going up and over today. Beautiful, beautiful.

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