Blanca Lake


10  essentials REQUIRED

Statistics Round trip 7.5 miles

 Elevation Gain 3300 ft

 Highest Point 4600 ft

NW Forest Pass

Difficult:  Please respect your ability

$10 gas


The trail starts in cool second growth forest, but the trees are quite sizable. In the fall, the squirrels roughhouse in the trees high above your head. Occasionally they drop gigantic pine cones from high above, and while the resulting crash is startling, it is fun to watch.


The trail is in excellent shape, and gets right down to business, starting off venturing through a close forest with very little understory, but lots of moss. As you climb, you move swiftly from one steep but well-designed switchback to another, and yet another, gaining a little under 3,000 feet in a little under 3 miles. While this can be draining, rewards await you at the top. Huckleberry bushes line the trail, and tired hikers can stop and munch on the sweet treats their their heart's content. After three miles, the trail reaches a ridge line with a set of switchbacks heading up a rocky face. If you look to the east, some stellar views of the mountains can be seen, and on a clear day Glacier Peak graces hikers with an up-close and personal view.

Once you've conquered the ridge line, most of your climbing is over. The trail continues much more gently through sub-alpine flower meadows that glow with lupine when in season. Eventually, the trail drops to pretty but stagnant Virgin Lake. There is no inlet or outlet, so the water is entirely snow melt and rainwater, and by late fall the water is more like a bog. Often, this is a breeding ground for frogs and salamanders, so keep your eyes peeled for plenty of amphibian friends.


WTA trail crews have had back country response teams (BCRTs) working to improve this section of trail for three summers, but use caution in wet weather as small sections can still be muddy, rocky, rooty, and steep, dropping 600 feet in 0.6 miles. If you can tear your eyes away from the trail, the view will take your breath away. Across the valley is the foot of Columbia Peak, and ss you round the last point, beautiful Blanca Lake opens up in all her glory. The lake is framed to the north by the peaks of Monte Cristo, Columbia, and Keyes. More than a few hikers have been known to gasp aloud when they round the corner and see the robin-egg blue waters. Above the lake, the Columbia Glacier drains via a twin waterfall into the vibrantly blue colored water. It's the glacial till in the water that lends the lake its otherworldly color. At at the end of the trail lies a small beach full of driftwood, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the beauty that surrounds you. Here pikas and marmots abound, watching like sentinels from large boulders fallen from the peaks high above. -----------------------------------------------------------------
Driving Directions: **Access the trailhead via FR 65, not the Skykomish River Road, due to washouts west of Garland Mineral Spring.**

Take US Hwy 2 east from Monroe to just past the town of Skykomish. Turn left on to FR 65 and drive past the Beckler River Campground. Take FR 65 all the way to the intersection of FR 63 and the private Garland Mineral Springs Road. Take a right on FR 63 and proceed about 2 miles. The trailhead is on a small spur road to the left, up another small hill.

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Disclaimer: Trailside is not a professional guide service. Our leaders function, as facilitators only, to enhance your outdoor experience. Reports of trail and weather conditions are based on best available information, are subject to change, and are no guarantee of fitness for any particular purpose. You may join us on this hike at your own risk. Keep in mind that hiking involves risks and weather changes quickly in the mountains. You are responsible for your own safety and the more prepared you are, the better the chance you will remain safe.

Signing up for any Trailside organized event indicates that you have read, understand and agree to the terms of this disclaimer and hold harmless all Trailside Organizers and Leaders in the event of injury or loss.

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  • Lee J.

    Sandy is going to be there in just a few minutes. I will coordinate with her once she gets there. Please see message below

    September 21

  • Lee J.

    I apologize. I went to the wrong park and ride. I'm at the Ash Way park and ride exit 183. Just west of the freeway. Can someone send me their phone number.

    1 · September 21

  • Warren M.

    I will be there. Thanks for including me.

    September 20

  • Lee J.

    I think that's probably okay, Natalie. The worst that happens is we give you a ride back to your place to get your car :) Seriously, though, I think we'll have enough drivers. I know Sandy and I can each drive, so we just have to come up with one more car between the other nine people.

    1 · September 19

  • Lee J.

    We have a long waitlist for this hike, so please update your RSVP if you will not be attending.

    September 16

    • Samantha

      Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it to this hike due to a recent knee injury.

      September 16

    • Lee J.

      Sorry to hear that, Samantha. Hope you get better, and thanks for the heads up.

      September 16

  • Nicole a.

    I am having some feet issues so I think I'm going to have to cancel my RSVP. :-(. I'd hate to slow the pace for others. Hopefully I can make another one soon!

    September 15

  • Lee J.

    Weather forecast is looking good for Sunday right now :)

    1 · September 15

  • Lucia C C.

    I can drive and have a NW Forest pass; however, I do not mind being a passenger.

    July 8

  • Samantha

    I can drive / have the NW forest pass. I'll be coming from the North (Skagit County). I have room for 3 to carpool with me.

    July 8

  • Charlotte S.

    I can drive if necessary and I have a NW forest pass, room for 3plus myself

    June 1

  • Teresa

    I can drive one other person & I have a Golden Eagle pass.

    May 28

  • Kelly

    I can drive, but no pass

    May 28

  • Christine

    Sorry, I answered the questions when I rsvp'd but didn't put my answers here as well. I am able to drive, can take 3 others possibly 4 if we squish,and yes I have a NW Forest Pass.

    May 27

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