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Hike Blue Lake (All of Them)

Blue Lake is perhaps the most eponymous name for a hike in Washington. With (at least) six of them scattered around the state, saying "I'm going to hike to Blue Lake" might be met with the question, "Which one?"

Blue Lake is perhaps the most eponymous name for a hike in Washington. With (at least) six of them scattered around the state, telling your friends, "I'm going to hike to Blue Lake" might be met with the question, "Which one?"

Now you've got a handy reference. Consider this a checklist as well  can you visit all of them in a season?


South Cascades

Blue Lake (the one in Indian Heaven)

Mileage: 13.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Best Season: late summer and fall

Blue Lake via Cultus Creek. Photo by 78SC4X4.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter 78SC4X4.

Berries, camas root, and plenty of trout swimming in the streams nearby make this Blue Lake a forager's (and fisherman's) dream. It's a moderately steep grade, but the views of Mount Adams make it well worth your sweat.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Blue Lake (the one near Mount St. Helens)

Mileage: 4.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Best Season: summer

6085baa5-6414-4228-bbcf-27ac5d519fe3.jpeg
The lake is nice, but the views up top from Sheep Canyon are even better. Photo by trip reporter Rachel Wendling.

You'll only get a swift peek of this Blue Lake on the South Fork Toutle trail near St. Helens, but it's a fascinating area. An old washout with a clear creek running through and the stark silhouettes of dead trees with St. Helens looming over all make it a great place to explore.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Blue Lake Creek (the one with the nice campground)

Mileage: 4.8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2100 feet
Best Season: spring - fall

Blue Lake Creek. Photo by Vwahls.jpegThe lake is even more peaceful in the rain. Photo by trip reporter Vwahls.

Open to horses, mountain bikers, and motorized vehicles, trail users of all stripes can enjoy this destination (though each user has his own designated trail to get there.) But be sure to enjoy the journey as well; stop at the famous basalt columns and snap a picture!

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Cascades

Blue Lake High Route (the one you have to really want to get to)

Mileage: 29.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 7500 feet
Best Season: mid-summer - fall

Blue Lake. Photo by pnwnigel..jpegA half-frozen Blue Lake. Photo by trip reporter pnwnigel.

This Blue Lake is tucked away, accessible via the Pilot Ridge Trail. It'll be at least a day's worth of backpacking to get up there (though most people will probably take a little longer), and the approach to Blue Lake is on a slippery scree slope, but the lake is gorgeous, and the views on the way there are absolutely incredible.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


North Cascades

BLUE LAKE (THE ONE ON HIGHWAY 20)

Mileage: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1050 feet
Best Season: summer (though winter can be quite pretty)

Blue Lake. Photo by Janette Powell..jpeg
Larches showing off their fall colors. Photo by trip reporter Janette Powell.

When most hikers refer to Blue Lake, this is the one they're talking about. With towering granite peaks, forests, meadows, wildflowers, and of course the beautiful mountain lake surrounded by granite that reaches for the sky, this short hike is easily a classic and should be on your must-hike list.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide

BLUE LAKE (THE ONE NEAR MOUNT BAKER)

Mileage: 1.4 miles, roundtrip 
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
Best Season: summer

Blue Lake. Photo by Dave@Everett.jpegBlue Lake surrounded by green. Photo by trip reporter Dave@Everett.

This Blue Lake is one of the easier ones to reach — requiring less than a mile of hiking from the trailhead. Its translucent blue-green colors peek out beneath the shadows of a sheer rock wall partially encircling the lake, a reward for conquering the somewhat eroded and rooty trail that leads to it. Families, anglers, and hikers looking to experience a pretty subalpine lake will enjoy this short, yet memorable hike.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Eastern Washington

The Blues

There are no Blue Lakes (that we know of) in Eastern Washington, but they've got a whole range of Blue Mountains to explore. Plan a trip to the loneliest corner of Washington state and see what the trails there have in store. Maybe you'll find a Blue Lake of your own.