Blanca Lake Trail

HARD 318 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Blanca Lake Trail is a 13 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Index, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
13.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,904 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

snow

Blanca Lake Trail is a popular mountain trail through Wild Sky Wilderness and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness with fantastic views along the way. On a clear day visitors will be treated to great views of Glacier Peak and Columbia Peak across the valley as well as the peak of Monte Cristo once you reach Blanca Lake. The highest point of the trail is at Virgin Lake and then descends to the southern shore of the gorgeous blue lake below. Waterfalls feed the lake from the Columbia Glacier which also gives the lake its turquoise green color. Before last year there was a road leading directly to the trailhead. That road has since washed out and there no plans to fix it. Visitors must park outside of the closure and walk 2 miles to the trailhead. This is reflected in the map shown above.

hiking
13 minutes ago

Hiked Blanca Lake August 18th-19th. As you may have seen, the service road that leads to the trailhead is inaccessible (due to previous flooding) so the parking is on the side of the service road leading up to the area. In other words, don’t worry about parking because there’s plenty of room. Unfortunately, walking that service road to the trailhead is about 2 miles, which makes the total trip a clear cut 14 miles. Since I was planning on staying the night at the lake, I had about 25-30 pounds worth of gear in my pack and wow it made this hike so brutal. Essentially, the 3,900 feet of incline is really in the 5 miles of the actual trail, not the service road. It took my sister and I about 3 1/2 hours to get to Blanca Lake and still another 3 hours to get down back to the car the next morning. Once you reach Virgin Lake, you’ll start hiking down to Blanca Lake. Like other people have said, bring at least 2L of water if not more and make sure you have plenty of time to hike this trail. It’s gorgeous. Enjoy!

hiking
9 hours ago

Beautiful lake, but it is too smoky now. I suggest hiking this trail when smoke clears. Lake is definitely very beautiful.

21 hours ago

The lake is just magical. Must return on a clear day.

hiking
1 day ago

I’m 22, 5’1, 120lbs and I left my body and soul on the trail. This is hike is definitely difficult. It took my group and I about 3.5+ hours to get to the lake. I’d say this hike has 2 parts. The first part is the most intense, you’re going on a steep uphill for about 2 hours? It seems like never ending, never look up it’s discouraging. Bugs weren’t bad, weather was fine. The second part is when it plateaus a little then you go down hill for 1.5 hours? When you get to the lake go to the small little water fall on the left side of the lake it’s beautiful there. Water is cold.
Tip: WEAR GOOD SHOES. I wore running shoes and they were not comfortable throughout the trip
Bring at least 2L of water! You will be sweating tons
Enjoy the hike!

backpacking
14 days ago

Very rewarding hike with a beautiful lake. Would recommend getting an early start on this one to beat the bugs and crowds later in the day. Camping is not allowed at Blanca Lake however there is plenty of camping spots at Virgin Lake.

hiking
15 days ago

So so beautiful! But definitely the hardest hike I’ve ever done. It seemed like we would never get there but we finally did! I would definitely say take PLENTY of water. I drank 4 bottles by myself.
Check the weather before you go. We went yesterday and the weather was perfect. I think like 70-72 the whole day. I can’t imagine doing that hike in hotter weather. It would be miserable. We forgot bug spray and the bugs didn’t bother us too bad. I don’t think i have bites at all. They were only a nuisance when we stopped to take a breather. We got there and started on the trail around 11:30-12. We got back at 7:50. So it was a very long day but totally worth it. Make sure you wear hiking boots, if you don’t have any make sure you wear tennis shoes with GOOD SOLES.

The worst part was the 2 mile walk back because
It felt like it would never end.

15 days ago

Did this hike today. Started at 6:30am and it took us about 8.5 hours total, including about an hour at the lake. The climb up was strenuous, but it was all well maintained switchbacks. Once you reach the top of the switchbacks, there is a meadow, then Virgin Lake, then the trail down to Blanca lake. The hike is not technical and there are even stairs at a few points. It was well worth it for the view of the lake and several vistas along the way. I would recommend getting an early start to avoid bugs and crowds. There were only two other people at the lake when we got there around 11, and the sun lit up the lake closer to noon. We weren't attacked by any bugs until we started back down the mountain, and it was a lot busier later in the day too. Happy hiking!

hiking
16 days ago

Please be aware the trail app takes you to the WRONG DESTINATION, please DONT FOLLOW it.

If you’re using high way 2 from cashmere; go past the Skykomish ranger station and turn right after the station. Follow the road for about 13 miles, it will turn into a dirt road. At the end of the road you will walk about 2.5 miles to the trail head and then about 7 miles round trip to Blanca Lake.

If coming from Goldbar; get to mile mark 50 then turn left and follow the same route as stated above.

It sprinkled and then pored rained on ya the last 1.5 miles. It wasn’t worth it but I bet on a clean day it’s nice.

Good luck to all hikers and please be safe.

hiking
18 days ago

Breathtaking! By far the hardest yet most amazing hike I have ever been on. Pack plenty of water and bug spray. The bees and flies were ridiculous. But it was so worth it!!

18 days ago

The road to the old trailhead is still washed out and won’t be repaired, so add the 4mi round trip. The hike can be a challenge, but just go early and take your time if needed. The lake is absolutely amazing.

hiking
19 days ago

Beautiful and exhausting hike! Be prepared for lots of bugs. Never ending switchbacks will make you want to turn around. Bring lots of water.

hiking
21 days ago

INSANE amount of bugs on the trail! We did this hike on July 29. The weather was hot and humid. We just couldn’t even stand for a minute because of the bugs which included flies, mosquitoes and bees. There are new views except at the end of the trail.

hiking
25 days ago

Very difficult but very rewarding hike to this gorgeous lake up in the mountains, went last year and it was definitely a one to remember! Always get an early start as it has a million switch backs and it gets harder as you go up! If I remember correctly the trail was very maintained and no overgrowth

hiking
27 days ago

Definitely get an early start on this one, you will thank yourself. The hike is worth the final destination, but it’s not a hike that should be started in the afternoon. It took us approx. 3.5 hours to get up from the car (2 miles from the trailhead due to road washout) and 3 hours to get down. The trailhead warns you might need a map and compass to navigate the snow on the ridge, but this definitely was not necessary - we just followed all the packed down snow. The offline-AllTrails map with GPS also helps.

hiking
28 days ago

It’s ~8 miles round trip from the trailhead, ~4 miles round trip hike from the car to the trailhead, so it was about 13miles total, it is up hill all trail except the last mile to the lake, the trail goes down. Bring enough water.

hiking
28 days ago

It was harder than I thought it would be. But the reward is amazing and totally worth it. The lake is stunning.

hiking
29 days ago

Hike was 13 miles total. 1.8 to get to the actual trailhead, and another 4.7 up to the lake. This app doesn’t take you to the right trailhead, so we had to ask for directions.
Go to mile 50 on highway 2, and turn onto Beckler River Rd. You’ll come to a fork in the road, stay left. There’s a couple of miles of gravel road until you get to the parking area.
Overall difficulty: hard. Uphill the whole way!

hiking
29 days ago

We walked about two miles on mostly flat terrain to get to the trailhead from the car, due to the road washout. The hike itself is definitely a workout. It’s a pretty steep climb with a ton a switchbacks, but the plus side is that it’s only for the first 2.5 miles. After that you drop down to the lake, which makes everything well worth it. It took me about 2.5 hours to get to the lake, stayed at the lake for about an hour, and 2 hours to get back to the car. I would recommend getting an early start if you plan to do this hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful views but we had to walk a mile or so to access the beginning of the trail since it was closed for repairs

1 month ago

Great hike! very challenging as its switchbacks almost the whole way up. We reapplied bug spray 6 times, they are vicious. we had our dogs on leash the whole way up and on the way back down we let them off due to the rocky scramble. We ran into a park ranger on the way down and she told us that it was not required to have the dogs on leash, which was comforting and I wish I would have known sooner. I tracked the hike on my phone, it was a total of 12 miles round trip from car to the lake and back. Be prepared!

1 month ago

1. Tracked this hike and it's a total of 17 miles from car to lake and back to car. You hike 2.5 miles from your car to the actual trailhead.
2. Left at @10:30am, Lake @1:30pm, hung out for an hour, then got back to our car @6:30pm
3. Absolutely the most hardest hike I've ever done, but stunning and rewarding.
4. Bring a suit! You've got to jump in the lake, it's definitely worth it.
5. (tip) Some parts of snow, but dig toe down as you cross, at least that's what I did
6. (tip) The descent is hard on your feet!
7. Bug spray is a must. They're super aggressive out there.

1 month ago

beautiful trail with wonderful views. the switch backs were gradual which was nice but still steep and long even when coming back from the lake. Bring a minimum of 2L of water!! Made this mistake and ended up eating snow on the way back. the section in snow was completley manageable in runners.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the best lake views and difficult trail but worth it!

1 month ago

kinda hard but so worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

Easy [for me] hike. 2 miles from the car to the trailhead, then another 4.35 to the lake. Tons of switchbacks to get to the top. Up top, you’ll lose the trail b/c of the snow coverage if you’re unfamiliar of where to go - I recommend downloading a map for offline use. Look for NPS pink/red tape for direction marking. Skip stopping at Virgin Lake, walk around the edge and find the trail down to Blanca. Expect semi-steep descent, no scrambling. Bring plenty of water - can refill at the lake if need be. The falls off to the side provide fresh water that will suffice. Great photo shots from the first set of rocks you’ll see from up top. Trail to the bottom is over to the left.

Side note - you’ll need a park pass for your car. No worries if you don’t have one - if you happen to get ticketed (like we did) it’s only a $5 fine (the cost of the pass)

hiking
1 month ago

Well first off, you don’t start off from the trail head. You have to park outside of the entry gate that takes you up to the trail head - road is washed out, yet is accessible for hiking up to trail head/parking lot. It adds about another 2 miles to the already 6.3 mile hike(round trip). We saw some vehicles halfway up- were locked inside; since gate was closed. Don’t know how long they were there for. The hike was tough like others mentioned. We went up 7/2/18, still lots of snow, trekking poles helped. Only made it to Virgin Lake, which was a short distance from Blanca Lake....was getting late; both where still frozen. Trail has ribbon makers to help guide, once you get to the snow parts- at least I believe that’s what they were there for. Helps to have a good GPS app on phone. Foot prints in snow helped too, from others. Come mid/late August, I believe snow should melt - it was a colder winter....don’t know how long it will stick around. Over all, the hike was hard, lots of switchbacks and roots on trail heading up. If you like a challenge, go for it!

1 month ago

Beautiful we lost the trail lots of snow

hiking
2 months ago

The view is amazing!

2 months ago

Super duper hard hike!!! Haha... Make sure you spray some bug spray or bring fly zapper. I almost got eaten alive from the flies. Great view at the end!

2 months ago

Breathtaking view

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