Blanca Lake Trail

HARD 357 reviews
#1 of 4 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. The "new" trailhead is reflected accurately on the map shown here.

14 days ago

Couldn't walk the next day, thighs and calves were spent, amazing hike, will go back for backpacking next time around

hiking
2 months ago

This was a bucket list hike for me. This hike is by no means easy, it is one of the shortest hikes I have done all year with the longest for me drive time. The road is washed out so you have to hike two or 3 miles to the trailhead. I did this hike in October 2018. I'm glad I did this hike but definitely not one of my favorite hikes of the year. The trail is very narrow and steep up hill until you get to the first lake where it flattens out a bit. Before you get to the first lake you have to crawl over a 6ft or so rock wall. to get to blanca lake (which is a day use only area) it is a steep, treacherous descent. I saw a lot of people on this trail mainly when I was leaving and a couple who didn't think the trail was going to be that hard. When i visited in October there was ice at the lake and the shores of the lake were a lot on the stinky side. This place is very beautiful, but very hard hiking. There is a bathroom at the true trailhead, but it was locked when I visited due to the road washout. Bring lots of water, snacks and electrolytes, you will definitely need it. I would not recommend this trail for anyone new to hiking, families or anyone out of shape.

hiking
3 months ago

One of the best hikes I’ve ever done. Challenging but worth it. Road is washed out so it’s 2 miles to trailhead. From trailhead you climb 3000 feet in right over 3 miles. At 3.2ish you’ll reach virgin lake, it was frozen over today (11/17). From virgin lake it’s all downhill to Blanca lake, about 0.82 miles. Snow was packed down but yactracks and poles were super helpful.

3 months ago

I havent hiked in 25 yrs.this was my 2nd hike in a few months an it kicked my butt.i do have some lung disease.but it was so beautiful an the scenery was breathtaking..

4 months ago

A tough hike and dangerous spent the night with Olive my Welsh terrier definitely would like to do again the views spectacular

hiking
4 months ago

It was beautiful!

4 months ago

Amazing views! Glacier peak, vibrant lake’s color and even the fall’s colors.
It’s a difficult and steep hike but completely doable. (I don’t recommend it for families though).
The road to get to the trailhead isn’t too bad, some small potholes.

4 months ago

My favorite

hiking
4 months ago

ROAD IS WASHED OUT STILL and will probably be forever. Arrived the road/new TH @ 8am. Plenty of parking still. The road hike is about 2 miles. Very easy start. The road is flat for the most part. The start of the actually trail noted and the trail is well kept. This trail is switch back city and you will be ascending the whole time until the peak. The peak is just before Virgin Lake then it is literally all down hill from there until Blanca... Blanca...... is like WOAHHHH... the lake is insanely gorgeous. Took us about 3 hours to get to the lake for a total of 5.5 hours roundtrip. A MUST-DO for experienced hikers. Please review before heading to this trail. Saw a family (of bigger proportions) hitting this trail at like 4pm. I am not one to judge ones ability but no water bottles from what I saw and a late start could spell disaster. If you don't hike this will test your legs. Go prepared and brings snacks and water. The lake is worth it but go early. Hiking in the dark unprepared is dangerous.

4 months ago

Incredibly scenic and colorful in the fall! Trail is long, though not as arduous as we had expected.

4 months ago

Hiked in August - left the car at 6am, made it to the lake by 9:45. Highly recommend an early start: cooler, less bugs, few people. The view is absolutely worth the long hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Challenging. If the weather isn’t great - there’s not going to be much of a view of the lake. I would do it again on a clear day.

hiking
5 months ago

This was my very first hike and the fellas and i really had no idea what we were in for .. If you aren't a regular hiker (like myself) and aren't in top shape , be prepared to push yourself harder than you ever have . The trail was beautiful, the views were beautiful . There are some very steep areas that will test your quads . Personally i had to take lots of little breaks to let my legs recharge . It was hard mentally and physically to accomplish but well worth it in the end. It was a great accomplishment. It was just under 12 km from where we Parked so about 23.5 km round trip ! My biggest regret was not having buying hiking poles.. it WILL save your legs

5 months ago

A tough hike but well worth it once you leave the switchbacks and forests behind. The views of the surrounding mountains is the warm up for getting to see Blanca Lake. It truly is worth the gruel and I will do it again when the seasons change in a few weeks. Two things 1) Don't give up and 2) coming down takes half the time it takes to get up.

hiking
5 months ago

Trash Everywhere!

First I need to say how disappointed I am with the hikers using Washington trails! I watched volunteers spending an entire day cleaning trash from this one trail. It took a team of people the entire day to pick up trash that should never have been left in the first place. Very Sad.

If your going to hike this or any other Washington State trail take your trash out with you. If you see some disrespectful hiker leaving trash say something.

And to all you pet owners! If your dog poops don’t put it in a bag and toss the bag off the trail. Seriously, what is wrong with you people.

If you can’t show respect for other hikers and the environment, stay off the trail.

5 months ago

This is the second most beautiful thing I've seen this year! The first was female so I don't think that's a fair comparison. I had to hold back my emotions, I'm a man of course, I was just not prepared for how stunning this lake was in person. This is something you must see for yourself.

The lake is not made of a non-nutonian fluid, I tried walking on it and I sank.That's how my pictures came out so awesome!

If you're not quite sure if you have bad knees or not... You'll definitely know after this hike! LOL

Don't forget to see the falls at the end of the trail. I got in the water to take some pictures from the other side.

hiking
5 months ago

This trail is very difficult but worth the effort! I would recommend going on a weekday and starting early in the morning. We started at 8:45am and arrived at the lake at 12:00pm. (I took several short breaks along the way!) We spent about an hour at the lake relaxing and refueling. The trip back was almost as difficult as getting to the lake. Because of the steep incline, it can be hard on the knees. The blueberry bushes are ripe and ready to eat along the trail. The mosquitoes and flies were out but not too bothersome. This is definitely a trail that shouldn’t be passed up.

5 months ago

So hard. So beautiful..

hiking
5 months ago

one of my favorite trails. the trail is in amazing condition. lots of people camped out at virgin lake and the blue berries were all over the sides of the trail.

hiking
5 months ago

We started from the car at 9:55AM (parked right near the road closed sign) and made our way up the road. At 10:38 we started the actual hike, the signage at that point states 3.5 miles to Blanca lake. We made it to the lake at 3:00PM (approx 4.5 hours to get there). Such a beautiful spot! Amazingly Mint green water! Make the plunge it is cold but so rewarding! We went all the way down to the second lake lookout on the actually water and relaxed on the logs. On the way back we made sure to turn on our mileage calculator so we could let y’all know the distance. It took us 3 hours to get down (back to the car at about 7PM). All in all we were prepped for 13 miles plus the road washout 4 miles... this info is not accurate!!! It was a little over 12 miles in total including road washout! (6.1 miles each way!) Enjoy guys!

5 months ago

It can be tough but the lake is awesome. Extra 3.5-4 miles because of the washout to the original trailhead/parking lot.

5 months ago

Very difficult but rewarding hike

hiking
5 months 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
5 months ago

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

5 months ago

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

hiking
5 months 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
6 months 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
6 months 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.

6 months 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
6 months 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.

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