I spend a lot of time perusing the millions of trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness through the Washington Trails website. I've never looked up the actual total number of alpine lakes in Washington but the count is so high that opening a map is like staring at a speckled sea of hidden lakes. And once you've seen one... you have not seen em all. I find a unique skip of emotion to each lake.
Justin and I camped at the Beckler River Campground the night before so it was nice to roll out of our tent and drive 15 minutes up the road to the trail. An early start is worth it because this is one of the more popular Hwy 2 hikes, even on a week day. The trail is gorgeous from the get go and felt particularly green. I love it when the trees grow in such an arrangement that I can peer through the foliage and see more than 50 ft in front of me. The trail wrapped around the mountain and gave us multiple views of different valleys framed by granite peaks. The climbing is comparable to Mt. Si with a short flat section and downhill to Blanca Lake at the very end.
The trail reaches a steep incline almost immediately. I actually wish I had jogged for a mile on the flats beforehand since we held a swift clip on the trail. The total climbing was around 3500ft and I felt every step of it since the lake was only 4 miles away. The last mile before cresting to the flats had me in a power hike guzzling at my camelback.
We hung out at the lake briefly and snacked on beef jerky, speculating if we could blaze a trail to the glacier on the other side of the lake, but eventually decided against it since there was no trail. The way down was very run-able and I was glad to be wearing my Hokas for extra cushioning.
The Blanca Lake trail wasn't enough mileage for Justin so we hopped in the car and went to the Benchmark Mountain trail head where Justin tacked on another couple hours of running. I was happy to sit by the Beckler River and soak up the serenity of the Cascades.
Blanca Lake Trail (#1052), Access via FR 65 from Hwy 2
Distance: 8 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: 3500 ft
I am an outdoor travel junkie with my doctorate in occupational therapy. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.