Blanca Lake is by far the most strikingly beautiful lake that I have ever hiked to in Washington. Its milky turquoise color is just mesmerizing, and I don’t think there is anything as rewarding, especially after a very difficult hike!
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, you’d be climbing 37 switchbacks and gaining 2,700 feet in 3 miles. It’s by far the HARDEST HIKE I have ever done.
Location: Central Cascades, Stevens Pass
Distance: 7.5 mi., round trip, 7+ hours
Elevation Gain: 3300 ft. Highest Point: 4,600 ft. at Virgin Lake (You’ll see Virgin Lake at the top before arriving at Blanca Lake.)
Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass required. Day Pass and ePass: $5/car or America the Beautiful Pass works, too. However, it was free the day that I went because of COVID.
I did this hike on Sunday, July 19, 2020. I definitely did not anticipate how difficult this hike was, but I was glad I pulled it through. It took a total of 8 hours, 3 hours from the trailhead to the lake and 2 hours back. Once arriving at the lake, there were plenty of spots to rest, sunbathe, and swim. I saw some people on their floaties and inflatable kayaks and having a great time!
- Once you plug in Lake Blanca Trailhead from Seattle, DO NOT FOLLOW GOOGLE MAP at 2/3 of the way. DO NOT EXIT ON INDEX ROAD BECAUSE IT’S A DEAD END. YOU MUST ENTER FROM THE EAST SIDE AKA THE “NEW” TRAILHEAD.
- From Monroe (or if you’re coming from Seattle), keep on driving EAST on US Hwy 2 until you pass the town of Skykomish. Turn left on FR 64 or Beckler River Road.
- After driving about 12 miles on Beckler River Road (you’d be seeing some people camping along the tiny creek), take the second left at Jack Pass – a 5-way junction. Then keep on driving for about 2-ish miles, take a right on FR 63 at FR 63 and Garland Mineral Springs Road. Go for another 2 miles and you will see the trailhead shortly.
LOGISTIC – PLANNING:
- I’d highly suggest you download the map area ahead of time (how-to- HERE) because there’s very limited internet access in this area. That way, after you exit on Beckler River Road, you can just follow the GPS to the trailhead. Warning: rough unpaved road!
- The toilet at the parking lot was also CLOSED when I was there, so I had to find a secluded spot off the trail to pee, like twice! Note that there’s a toilet at the top (again, it is quite a hike up there!), so definitely try to go before you start this hike! PACK YOUR TRASH OUT INCLUDING TOILET PAPER!!!
- There was some snow at the top near Virgin Lake, but no spikes needed (at least I was able to carefully pass through!).
- Bring at least 3 bottles of water per person, a nice portion of lunch, and plenty of snacks. I usually buy a banh mi, pack energy or protein bars as well as hardy fruits like mango or nectarines if I have them around.
- Definitely bring an emergency kit just in case of blisters and accidents.
- Sunscreen and bug spray is a must because you will need to re-apply them as you go.
- Wear hiking boots but consider bringing a pair of sandals because you can cross the lake to the other side. I’ve seen this guy wearing his Luna sandals and definitely am jealous of that!
- Pets are allowed.
- It’s a very popular and crowded trail, so consider hiking Blanca on a weekday or super early on the weekend.
- I really enjoy hiking through the forest as a lot of the trees remind me of sequoia and redwoods. So definitely GO HUG A TREE!
- Bring a swimming suit, floaties, or inflatable kayak. It’s a swimmable lake!
- Lastly, check the weather and read the reviews HERE before you go and please be safe!