Blanca Lake

5 reviews #1 hike out of 64 in
11.0 mi
Distance
5 hrs 8 min
Time
terrain
3,035 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

Note Forest Rd 63 is closed, adding 2 miles of flat gravel road to walk both ways. The road is supposed to open soon, but a definitive date has not been set

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 pinecones 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 ridgeline 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 ridgeline, 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 snowmelt 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.

This trail goes by Virgin Lake.

Getting Started

As of 10/12/19 an extra 4 miles round trip exists for this hike to account for the road closure on NF-63. WTA had stated the road would reopen at the end of Sept but that is not yet the case.

Bring a NW Forest pass to park. If hiking in fall, winter, or early spring you will need microspikes as the trail is icy in many areas

Taking Children

Not good for small children, this hike is demanding, long, steep, and in some places narrow.



    Rate this Hike

    user_profile
    3 months, 2 weeks ago
    ★ ★ ★

    user_profile stars
    6 months, 3 weeks ago
    Hiked this trail on Monday 10/15/18. This was literally one of the most difficult hikes I did this year! The roots, rocks and obstacles on the actual trail are relentless. This trail starts off easy on the road gradually going up hill on forrest road 63. There are 3 major washouts on forest road 63. Once on the trail it is all up hill and steep switchbacks until you reach virgin lake where it flattens a bit. There is a white rock wall that you must climb up to continue on the trail to virgin and blanca lake. After virgin lake you will be going down even more difficult terrain than the initial climb to virgin lake and you won't even see blanca lake until you're right on top of it. The day use trail is tiny and has more than a few scary parts. I would not suggest this trail for small children. Blanca lake this time of year had icy grounds, so take care in your steps. Lots of places are roped off for regrowth. My legs were freaking exhausted before I hit blanca lake. The climb up and then back down past virgin lake took everything in me not from buckling legs and tumbling down the mountain. It took me 10+ hours to complete this hike including all the breaks. My moving time was 9 hours and 35 minutes. I was hiking for a total of 10.6 miles. The bathroom at the true trailhead is closed due to the road washouts. This trail also feels really long when you're hiking it. I saw 2 trail runners, 8 hikers and a dog and a backpacker w/dog. I started on this trail at 6:30am and didn't finish till 5pm. The road in starts out paved and then turns to hard packed dirt with a lot of potholes, top speed I was driving was 20mph. It would be wise to have a map of the area as there are some trails that branch out from the main trail as well as for navigating the road.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    2 months, 1 week ago
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    3 months, 2 weeks ago
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    user_profile
    5 months ago
    ★ ★


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