Blanca Lake

Trail No. 1052

Elevation 4640

SEPTEMBER 2, 2006 - A solo hike on a warm, sunny day.  This trail climbs through a beautiful old growth forest via switchbacks, switchbacks, and more switchbacks (about 37 in all), gaining 2700 in approximately 3 miles, before it reaches a ridge with a glorious view of surrounding peaks.  It then crosses subalpine meadows and skirts tiny Virgin Lake, which I have heard described as ugly.    However, although this lake lacks the breathtaking beauty of Blanca Lake, it is very still and reflects the surrounding trees and is quite pretty in its own way.   Within minutes of leaving Virgin Lake, the trail plunges steeply down a rough trail that is rocky and crisscrossed with gnarled roots.  This portion of the trail dispenses for the most part with such niceties as switchbacks as it drops to Blanca Lake 600 below.  The first view of the lake is stunning, and yes, the water really is that turquoise blue color you see in the photographs.  When very still, the lake reflects the surrounding peaks and the Columbia Glacier.  Meltwater from Columbia Glacier feeds into Blanca Lake and gives it its striking color.  The climb back up from Blanca Lake is much easier than the hike going down. 

7 miles roundtrip

Elevation gain:  2700' in, 600' out