Hiking Utah’s Lake Blanche Trail: A Comprehensive Guide

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Hike to one of Utah’s most stunning alpine lakes and take the Lake Blanche trail! Picture clear alpine waters, breathtaking mountain views, and wildflowers along the trail. I’ve hiked to quite a few alpine lakes, and Lake Blanche is above all the most beautiful. As an added bonus, the trail is accessible no matter what time of year you go.

  1. Getting There
  2. Trail Highlights
  3. Things to Know Before You Go

Getting There

You can find Lake Blanche in the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area of the Wasatch National Forest, just southeast of Salt Lake City. The trailhead is accessible from the Mill B South Fork of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Here are some key details to help you plan your trip:

Trailhead: 

The trailhead for Lake Blanche is located on a curve of the Big Cottonwood Canyon road. From Salt Lake City, take I-215 to the 6200 South exit and head east toward the mountains. Follow signs for Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (Highway 190) and continue up the canyon until you reach the trailhead parking area. You can search “Lake Blanche Trailhead” on whatever GPS/Maps service you use and it will pull up the exact location.

Please be aware that this trailhead parking lot is a high-crime area so take all of your valuable belongings with you or leave them at home.

Distance: 

The round-trip distance to Lake Blanche is approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) with an elevation gain of around 2,800 feet (853 meters).

Difficulty: 

Hikers of varying skill levels find this to be a moderately strenuous hike. While the trail is well-maintained, it does involve some steep sections and rocky terrain.

Season: 

The best time to hike the trail to Lake Blanche is typically from late spring to early fall after the snow has melted in the mountains. However, it’s smart to be prepared for variable weather conditions, especially in the shoulder seasons. If you choose to hike this trail in the winter, be sure to check avalanche conditions and bring microspikes. I use the Utah Avalanche Center to check conditions (they also have an app).

AllTrails Link: Use this as a resource to check current conditions on the trail. I will read through reviews and look at recent pictures so I have a better idea of what the trail is like before heading out. 

Trail Highlights

Now that we’ve gone over the preparations, let’s explore the highlights of the trail!

Meadow Views: 

First, the trail begins with a gentle ascent through a lush meadow filled with wildflowers. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer and moose.

Panoramic Overlooks: 

As you climb higher, the surrounding peaks and valleys will treat you to stunning panoramic views.

Lake Blanche: 

Finally, after a steady uphill climb, you’ll reach Lake Blanche. It has crystal-clear water and a beautiful mountain backdrop, featuring Sundial Peak. Take some time to eat some food, drink some water, and take in the scenery!

A hike to Lake Blanche with two of my friends in October!

Things to Know Before You Go

Before you set out on your adventure, here are some essential tips to keep in mind.

Start Early: 

To avoid the crowds and the heat of the day, consider starting your hike early in the morning. This will also give you plenty of time to enjoy the trail at a leisurely pace.

Pack Essentials: 

Be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and layers of clothing. (For reference, I almost always drink my full two liters of water when I do this hike). For clothing, it’s important to be prepared for anything as weather conditions in the mountains can change rapidly.

Stay on the Trail: 

Help protect the alpine ecosystem by staying on the designated trail at all times. Avoid trampling vegetation or disturbing wildlife.

Do Not Swim in the Lake:

Lake Blanche is part of Salt Lake City’s watershed so people and animals are not allowed to swim in the lake. In addition to that, dogs and other animals are not allowed on trails in the Cottonwood Canyons, so leave your furry friends at home for this one!

Leave No Trace: 

Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and leaving nature as you found it. Respect wildlife and avoid feeding or approaching animals. 

Hike Responsibly: 

Be mindful of your own abilities and limitations, and know when to turn back if the hike becomes too challenging. Safety should always be your top priority and there’s no shame in listening to your gut and heading back early. 

Hiking the Lake Blanche trail offers a glimpse into the natural beauty of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Make sure to take your time, listen to your body, and take a lot of pictures! This is one of my all-time favorite hikes in Utah and it never disappoints. So grab your boots, pack your backpack, and head out there!

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