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Hike to Blanca Lake

Gold Bar, Washington

based on 5 reviews



7.5 miles

Elevation Gain

3300 ft

Route Type



Added by The Outbound Collective

Make sure to bring your camera (or phone) for a magical shot of this stunning lake in the Cascades.

Although the drive to the trailhead is mostly over gravel roads, Blanca Lake is a very popular hike. The drive is better for cars with clearance and awd capabilities. 

The trail gets right down to it gaining almost 3,000 feet in the first 3 miles. But don't worry, the hard work is well worth the reward at the end. Keep pushing forward and make sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated (and maybe a snack while you relax before coming back down). 

Add this to the top of your list of beautiful alpine lakes in the Pacific Northwest. If possible, try to head there during a weekday to avoid the crowds. 

This trail is dog friendly, on-leash. 

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

Hike to Blanca Lake Reviews

Beware, the trailhead has been viciously washed out, which adds a few extra miles to an already demanding hike, so only the brave and the foolish will prevail. Start early, not to avoid foot traffic, but because it will take a while to summit... and then the lake will take you captive like the silent siren it is. Switchbacks, bugs and intense inclines will make you hate life a little bit, but know that if you persist, you will be heavily rewarded. Spoiler alert: you will reach a point where the end feels near (you are at the highest point, there are lakes, the earlier intensity seems to have subsided etc). Please note it is not. You have a long, steep decline ahead of you that is significantly longer than you are prepared for. What got me through the whole thing was thinking I was close, but I have probably ruined that one for you if you disregarded the spoiler alert. All I can say is JUST KEEP HIKING! Eventually, gloriously, and with great aplomb, you will reach the mother effing Lake and she will knock your socks off. The suffering you've just endured will be forgiven because the price was just. Bring your swimsuit because you are a masochist now - the glacier water will be so cold it will hurt, and you will love it. Stay for a long time, because it puts off the fact that you eventually need to hike back. Know that it will suck, but your friends will be instagram-jealous and memories of Blanca will make you believe in magic again.

The access road is closed indefinitely so this adds an extra 4 miles round trip to the already challenging hike. But, the hike was worth it! When you round the corner and catch a glimpse of the lake for the first time, you feel a sense of enchantment. It's beautiful and serene, highly recommend it. The hike up is very steep and steadily climbs uphill the whole way so do ensure you're in good shape before you attempt it. There was still some snowfall at the top in July which made the hike interesting :).

When you turn the corner and take in your first views of Blanca Lake, you kind of want to stop right in your tracks. In many of the hikes I'v experienced around the state, the water at Blanca has been some of the most vibrant. As this trip is becoming increasingly more popular, remember to pack in and pack out.

My first backpack trip was here, still one of my favorites! One of the best spots in WA...in my opinion.

I'd recommend bringing some brews for the top :) the view is to die for.

Crossed the log jam and did an overnight next to this beauty of a lake. SUPER CROWDED on the weekends. Go on the weekday. Trust me.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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