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Blanca Lake

Backcountry Response Team

Wed Sep 13, 2023 8:30 AM — Sat Sep 16, 2023 3:30 PM

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Central Cascades — Stevens Pass - West

Features: Earn Northwest Forest Pass

Gorgeous Blanca Lake is a fitting reward for the sweat expended to get there. Photo by kjean.


This is an extremely popular trail, thanks to its stunning destination -- a robins-egg-blue lake at the base of the Columbia Glacier. The whole scene is ringed by the summits of Columbia, Monte Cristo and Keyes Peaks.

The views here have made this destination one of Washington's most popular, and the trail here needs lots of maintenance to keep up with the number of people who visit.

This year, we're creating a new reroute at Virgin Lake near the top of the ridge. If we finish that, we will work on other maintenance tasks closer to Blanca Lake.

About the Area

One of the most striking lakes in Washington, Blanca Lake's vibrant blue is thanks to the Columbia Glacier at the head of it. Glacial flour flows into the lake, and the blue is from suspended material in the lake water.

It's a wonderful reward for the hikers willing to undertake the more than thirty steep switchbacks that lead to the lake. But so many hikers visiting means it needs extra focus, and that's where our Trails Rebooted work comes in.

What to Expect

We'll have fun, work hard and make a difference!

Project Description

The main project this crew will be working on is continuing a reroute WTA started in 2021 near Virgin Lake. This trail is extremely popular and due to the volume of traffic, the area is suffering significant damage

Camping and Hiking Information

  • Type: Backcountry basecamp
  • Location: We will camp at Virgin Lake, about a half mile from Blanca.
  • Weather: Be prepared for variable conditions including heat, cold, wind and rain

Initial hike to camp: 3 miles with 2700 feet of elevation gain at a moderate pace while carrying your backpack fully loaded with all provisions including camping gear and food, plus WTA-provided tools. This promises to be a challenging hike.

Expected daily hike to project: 1 mile roundtrip


  • Day 1: Meet the crew rain or shine, then hike in, begin work on the project and set up camp
  • Day 2+: Make breakfast and pack a lunch before heading out on trail with the crew by 8:00 AM. Work at your own pace, take plenty of breaks and enjoy lunch on the trail. Arrive back in camp by 4:00 or 5:00 PM for a relaxing evening. Prepare your own dinner and swap stories with the crew.
  • Final Day: Break down camp, finish trail project, hike out and say goodbye to the crew at the trailhead

For safety reasons, arriving late or leaving early is not allowed.

Planning Information

Get ready for a challenging backcountry adventure!

What it Takes to Do This Work Party

  • A great attitude for working with a team! WTA provides the training and tools you need for the project
  • Backpacking gear and food for multiple nights on the trail
  • Good physical condition to hike with a fully-loaded backpack and be physically active for about 8-9 hours daily on uneven terrain 
  • Backpacking experience including ability to run your own camp following Leave No Trace principles
  • Day work party experience recommended
  • Flexibility to adapt to changes due to unpredictable weather or land manager requests
  • Minimum age: 18

What to Bring

  • Boots
  • Long pants 
  • Work gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt recommended
  • Eye protection recommended (glasses, sunglasses or safety glasses)

Backpacking gear

  • Backpack to carry all of your gear
  • Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Cooking gear and enough food (plus a little extra) for the entire trip
  • At least two 1-liter water bottles and a way to purify your water
  • Rain jacket and rain pants
  • Extra warm clothing
  • Camp clothing such as shorts, shirt and sandals
  • Sun and bug protection
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Personal items such as medication, hand sanitizer and toiletries
  • ​First aid kit
  • A sense of fun and adventure for learning new skills and meeting great people!

Trail work gear

  • Boots
  • Long pants 
  • Work gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt recommended
  • Eye protection recommended such as safety glasses
  • WTA hard hat (provided, unless you have one)

For safety reasons, shorts and sneakers are not allowed while working. Firearms and weapons are not allowed.

More Information

From the Hiking Guide

See what WTA's hiking guide and trip reports say about this area.

A My Backpack account is required. You will be asked to register or log in before you can join.

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Take US Hwy 2 east from Monroe to just past the town of Skykomish. Turn left on to FR 65, more clearly marked as Beckler River Road and drive 12.5 miles on this road, passing the Beckler River Campground just after the pavement turns to gravel. After driving 12.5 miles, you arrive at Jack Pass, a 5 way junction. Take the second left. After driving 2.3 miles descending from Jack Pass, arrive at a junction with 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.

Note: Please follow the written directions above instead of using a GPS device. This will ensure that you get to the correct meeting location for this work party. The location of the pinpoint below is only approximate.

Getting to WTA work parties can involve travel on rough, unpaved roads in areas without cellular service and without street addresses that can be accurately used by navigation devices. Unless specifically noted otherwise, routes can generally be traveled by all types of vehicles. Volunteers with limited experience driving on unpaved mountain roads may want to allow extra time, beyond what is recommended in the directions above, to get to the meeting location.

Required Documentation

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Crew Message Board

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Find a ride, give a ride with people who also want to carpool.