Current road conditions require that you hike and additional 2 miles (4 round trip) to the actual Blanca Lake TH due to two substantial washouts—wouldn’t be PNW hiking if you didn’t have to work for it right?
Don’t let it stop you. As a matter of fact—it’s probably a better time to go because the additional mileage is keeping away the crowds. For experienced hikers, your daylight window just got bigger because the last half hour out could be done after sunset so long as you take a head lamp—it’s smooth sailing from the TH to the junction where you’re forced to park. HYOH.
There’s lots of hullabaloo on WTA and All Trails about the difficulty of this trail. There’s some truth to that as you do gain 2,700 ft. over the first 2.5 miles in (the suck level), but you top out on a ridge with some great views of Mt. Baker and then descend 600 ft. over the last .75 miles to the lake. Nothing that should scare you away: our group of three, all at different fitness levels, finish car to car in just over 6 hours. 3 hours up, .5 hours for lunch, and 2.5 hours down.
The trail itself is in good shape. We passed a rather jolly crew working on the downhill section of trail on the way in to Blanca at around 4,500 ft. They’re doing good work putting in some steps and cutting out the blow downs. They were on day 10 of 14 and in good spirits for hiking the additional mileage. There’s some extended sections of exposed root on the descent to the lake—one member of our group slipped twice in pretty short order here. No stupid mistakes! Go slow. Three points of contact.
The chalky blue backlights the pines as you come around a corner to a wonderful vantage of the lake and the glacial waterfalls in the distance. It really is a “Whoa” moment.
The lake itself is amazing; it’s easily worth a more arduous hike. You hit some very well crafted stone pathway (a dead giveaway that you’ve arrived) just before the lake comes into view. The chalky blue backlights the pines as you come around a corner to a wonderful vantage of the lake and the glacial waterfalls in the distance. It really is a “Whoa” moment.
We watched Monte Cristo Peak duck in and out of the clouds just above the Columbia Glacier as we enjoyed our lunch and marveled at the whole thing until it was time to go. It’s pretty incredible. In looking at a map, Twin Lakes and Silver Lake nearby would make a great return trip to the same area.