Jul 17, 2010
- Type of Outing
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Blanca Lake
- Region: Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
- Agency: Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
- Trails: Blanca Lake (#1052)
- Avg Rating: 4.24
- Hiking Companions
- Hiked with kids
- Be Aware Of
- Water on trail
- Snow on trail
We each hiked with ~25% of our body weight in our packs (15#/40#), and we made it to Blanca in 4.5 hours and back to the trailhead the next day in 3.5 hours. This includes a 5 minute water stop every hour. Speaking of water, my son carried 14oz and I had 64oz. This was the right amount for us as we arrived at the lake with about 8oz left. We had a water filter, and had the same amount for the trip back. It appears the active adult hiker can day hike this in 2-3 hours each way depending on fitness level. This hike is fairly steep, but the trail is good and consistent, and we averaged about 800’ in elevation per hour pretty consistently along the route. There is one blowdown on the trail, but others are hiking around it, and to me the state of this detour trail is in a good spot and could serve as the new/best path.
Approaching Virgin Lake, we hit a small snow field, but the tracks were easy to follow. We had a GPS for backup, but if you have a map, it’s easy to follow the ridgeline. If you get to a nice snow covered slope, glissade down it as it takes you to Virgin Lake (or hike around and not have as much fun :) As was helpful to me in another trip report, the trail to Blanca is on the right (east) side of Virgin Lake as you hike in.
As expected, Blanca Lake is worth every drop of sweat to get there. The lake is pretty cold, but we made a quick dip just to say we did. We did not make the meadow at the far end, but a few people we talked to did, and it is about another 45-60 minutes each way. To get there you need to cross the log jam in 3-24 inches of water, so bring extra socks for that as they provide good traction to cross the submerged logs. The meadow was reported to be quite spectacular, and we will make that another day for sure.
There were some flies and a few mosquitos just before dusk, but they seemed to disappear as quickly as they arrived, but we did use some bug spray as a preventative measure and were not bothered at all.
Bring lots of water, hat and sunglasses, and the 10 essentials. Plan your time appropriately so you can do all you want to do while there. This is a great hike, but due to the difficulty it may not be right for everyone, or younger kids. There are a lot of other hikes you could use to assess the readiness of younger ones.