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Utah's Wasatch Hiking Trails

Lake Blanche
Lake Blanche
Lake Blanche
Photo Gallery
A Strenuous But Rewarding Hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon
  • Length: 6.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2600 ft
  • Highest Elevation: 8,920 ft
  • Trailhead: At the "S" Curve, also known as "Mill B South Fork", about 4 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

lake blanche trail This is a hike not for the average recreational hiker. As you can see by the statistics above, there is a significant elevation gain over 3.2 miles up. But the lake itself, nestled against Sundial Peak is one of the most spectacularly scenic mountain lakes in the Wasatch (although I would be hard-pressed to actually name one as the best ). Any season would be recommended and each would offer a unique sight--from flower-strewn or snow-covered hillsides and meadows to trees adorned with golden and red leaves.

Lake Blanche Trail The trailhead includes a small paved parking lot and rest room. There is also overflow parking on the shoulder of the road (be sure to pull off the road completely so as not to impede traffic in an already dangerous area), as well as another parking lot a few feet further down the road. This parking area services not only the Lake Blanche trail, but also a picnic area, Hidden Falls and Broads Fork trails.

Lake Blanche Trail The first quarter mile or so is paved, and used to be drivable. It parallels the very picturesque stream and there is a picnic area in what used to be the parking lot. Once you leave the road (the trail is very well marked), the uphill begins and is relentless. It is moderate in places and downright strenuous in others. But the walk through the trees is beautiful and smells of fresh forest, pine needles and vegetation. The trail parallels the stream for about half the distance, then veers to the east side of the canyon.

Lake Blanche Trail As you continue to climb, you can begin to see the ridge that marks the last hurdle. The last stretch is very steep and involves some scree (loose gravelly rocks). There is a section where the trail appears to climb straight up a scree slope, but keep to the right and you will see the dirt path begin again.

Lake Blanche Trail The persistent hiker will be rewarded with a fine sight indeed. Sundial Peak (elevation 10,320 ft.) loomes above the lake and is reflected in its waters. Also visible is and Dromedary Peak (elevation 11,170 ft.) about a mile to the southwest. The three lakes sit in a high alpine basin that was dug out by a glacier during the last ice age. Look for long deep ledges in the polished red rock that are visible signs of the ancient glacier. This area is part of Utah's 11,300-acre Twin Peaks Wilderness Area.

Lake Blanche Trail If you wander around the lake and to the west, you will come upon a dam and two smaller lakes (Lillian and Florence). Continuing around the lake will reveal a couple of small waterfalls (depending on the season and the amount of water from snow run-off).

For more pictures from this hike, check out the Lake Blanche Photo Gallery.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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