Explore the most popular hiking trails near Index with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is way harder than expected. The entire first half of the hike is straight up and then you have to go straight down. Bring your poles. Beautiful view but exhausting.

Love this hike but FYI, it’s closed till August 31st.

5 days ago

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

kinda hard but so worth it!

6 days ago

Beautiful, well-maintained trail. I think it’s on the moderate side of easy since you have to do a fair bit of climbing, but just enough to get some sweat going. The view at the top is lovely!

Great hike with a view! Parking is easily accessed from the freeway, had no issues with finding a spot. Trail starts to the left of the parking lot and has a sign-in board. Be prepared to work your stair-master muscles as the trail is loaded with what seems to be improved steps from stones and logs. Dont be afraid! The trail isn't too technical, just a few switchbacks. Along the way you may notice the traffic is quit heavy depending on the time of day you decide to head out. I decided to catch the sunset so I started at 1900 to get some, hopefully, good pictures. After a mile of up-hill I came upon the tower and another couple on the very top. Scaling the stairs I was anxious to get to the top but noticed that the access was closed off to the top portion. I didnt ask the couple on top to open it as I assumed that they were renting the tower for the evening. After an hour of waiting I was able to get my setting and snapped a couple of shots before deciding to head back down. Other than the highway the area is virtually quit and the added ambiance of birdlife is very abundant. Which of course adds to the overall greatness of its location. Overall, with an out and back of two miles total, the hike is worth the view of the ranges. Very kid friendly depending on their skill level. And if age is just a number and not a factor take the time to hike this trail. I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy along it's way. Cheers!

Parking is directly off the freeway trail starts out with a decent incline the whole way. Was somewhat overcast day but still enjoyed some peakaboo sights. Great hike for beginner or with dogs.

8 days 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)

8 days 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!

Great hike! It was steep, which turned it into a challenging workout for the short distance. I really enjoyed the lookout tower at the top because it led to a beautiful view. Parking was free, but heads up—don’t expect to turn into a street that leads to a parking lot. Parking was right on the side of the highway, so be careful when pulling in and when leaving. All in all, I enjoyed this hike!

Beautiful we lost the trail lots of snow

18 days ago

This was a lovely hike through a winding 800 foot ascent. There was logging in the forest at the turn of the century so you see the remnants of the large stumps throughout and even some wire-ropes. We met the founder of the trail on our way up who raised support for the trail since 2008, to get the trail ready over those years. So it has been functional for two years, he said.
At the top, the service road is a few steps from the end of the hike (power lines right there).
Beautiful view of the falls across the way and looking out at the whole horizon of hills. Beautiful!
Several of the photos posted here are from Heybrook Lookout (not this 'ridge' hike) - this does not have a lookout tower with stairs.

19 days ago

very nice and easy!

on Heybrook Ridge

20 days ago

Easy hike, well maintained trail. Power lines on the top next to view point.

20 days ago

Quick, but somewhat steep. Trailhead right off of highway 2.

This one definitely kicked my butt, but was a great challenge for getting back into shape. I’d highly recommend getting there as early as you can tolerate. It got really busy by 8:30am.

23 days ago

Beautiful trail and met some great people along the way. Like others have said, it’s pretty steep so we took our time heading up top. Recommend going early and packing lunch to have before you head back down the trail!

beautiful views once you reach the top. Not the most well marked trail as you get near the top. You have to look for little pink tags hanging on branches to find the way at places. great view though

30 days ago

The view is amazing!

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!

Breathtaking view

nice climb to the top, maintained trail and great view once you get to the outlook. We went early to beat the crowds.

Well maintained and easy to get too. I will say I personally would rate this moderate (keeping in mind I’m 125 pounds and was carrying my toddler in a pack which added about 40 ponds extra). With that and the way up being 90% incline I got an intense workout. Beautiful views!

1 month ago

If you’re a beginner, you might find this trail a little challenging even though it is considered easy. However, it is a very short hike with a steady incline and the views at the top are SO WORTH IT!

The trail is dog friendly but it might be a little tricky getting them up top to the lookout tower. I had to carry mine because the gaps between the stairs tripped him out but we made it and it was breathtakingly gorgeous.

I went on a Wednesday afternoon and there was plenty of parking—not a lot of people.

There is a picnic table at the top, too.

Make sure you make it up there on a clear sunny day...you won’t regret the view.

1 month ago

... ideal hike if you are short on time but feel the need to stretch the legs ....

Well maintained trail. Low crowds.

nice trail, not too long, not a lot of obstacles gorgeous view.

1 month ago

you'll probably need snowshoes after 3500 ft. saw some people that didnt have it but it would help a lot. i made it to peak elevation and tried to go down towards the lake but the descent was way too steep and there was still too much snow so i had to turn back with .3 miles left. the lake probably wont be accessible until mid to late july and yes for now u have to park 2 miles away from the th making this 10-11 miles in total. id say this is more difficult than mailbox

not that easy but great views

1 month ago

A great hike with a well-established trail. Please note that the trailhead is NOT on Hwy 2, as previously noted by Shannon Barban. It is on the Index-Galena Rd, right next to the only bridge that leads in to the town of Index. If you use the GPS coordinates to navigate, you will easily find the trailhead.

While you are on the trail, you will come upon a service road. Keep going straight! This will ensure you stay on the trail and get to the top.

The view is worth the effort!!

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