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With stunning views of the nearby mountains, this trail leads through a forest to a majestic sub-alpine lake


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Map Key

4.4

Miles

7.0

KM

Out and Back

6,269' 1,911 m

High

5,388' 1,642 m

Low

988' 301 m

Up

989' 301 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

36%

Max Grade (20°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This short trail is popular and well-maintained.

The North Cascades Highway, which allows access to this trail, closes during the winter. Snow may obstruct the trail well after the highway re-opens. Best hiked July - October.

Overview

Best known for its spectacular fall colors and easy access, Blue Lake is a classic hike in Washington's North Cascades. Just 2.2 miles and approximately 1,000 feet of elevation gain from Highway 20, this short hike is a great way to break up the long drive between eastern and western Washington.

Need to Know

Blue Lake is extremely popular during fall larch season (late September-early October). Arrive early, expect crowds, and have a backup plan in case the trail is overcrowded. A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking. Restrooms available at trailhead.

Description

Begin hiking through a forest and over boardwalks to a big, open meadow at 0.9 miles. During summer, this meadow is covered in wildflowers. If you are visiting in late September or early October, watch for larches; their needles turn golden yellow in the fall. Continue along the trail to re-enter the forest, cross a log bridge over a stream, and arrive at the lake shore.

A large boulder on Blue Lake's west side makes for the perfect picnic perch. From here, check out the Liberty Bell Group towering overhead. Usually viewed from the north at the Washington Pass Overlook, Liberty Bell and the Early Winters Spires are visible over Blue Lake from the southwest. Nearby, a larch arches over the lake for another irresistible North Cascades photo-op.

Various trails run along both sides of the lake, but none encircle it. Head up the signed, 0.4-mile Tarn Loop to extend your hike for better views of Liberty Bell over the lake. Protect this fragile environment by staying on established trails.

- Description by Brandon Fralic, Outdoor Project

Contacts

Shared By:

Ryan W with improvements by Brandon Fralic

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 19 votes

#602

Overall
  4.7 from 19 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
11%
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Recommended Route Rankings

#53

in Washington

#602

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1,371 Since Feb 29, 2016
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Photos

Approach in Washington Pass
May 12, 2019 near Stehekin, WA
Looking west towards the Isolation Traverse from Liberty Bell
May 12, 2019 near Stehekin, WA
Blue Lake in the North Cascades
Dec 20, 2020 near Stehekin, WA
View South from High on Blue Lake Trail
May 17, 2019 near Stehekin, WA
Whiskey jack at Blue Lake
Oct 14, 2019 near Stehekin, WA
A panoramic view of Blue Lake.
Sep 14, 2021 near Stehekin, WA

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Check-Ins

Jun 21, 2024
Cullen Moore
Jul 22, 2022
Private User
Jul 15, 2022
Brandon Choi
4.4mi — 3h 00m
Oct 18, 2021
R Wu
One of my favorite hikes so far. Do on a week day around mid-October. 5.7mi — 3h 36m
Sep 25, 2021
Claire Showalter
Sep 13, 2021
July Nguyen
A nice steady hike with a gradual incline that leads to a beautiful blue lake! Also loved seeing the color changing of the leaves 4.4mi
Aug 25, 2021
Denis de REYNAL
Oct 5, 2020
Eric Bryant
Eric and Kath
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