Blue Lake

North Cascades
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Blue Lake

Distance: 7.0km
Elevation: 305m
Time: 2-3h

Difficulty Rating:

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8.8 Overall Rating
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The family-friendly hike to Blue Lake is another North Cascades gem. The whole family will enjoy a leisurely hike out to the pretty Blue Lake flanked by the dramatic Liberty Bell Mountain spires. Hiking to Blue Lake is especially excellent during fall when the larches turn gold.

Getting there

From Newhalem, drive 67.6km east on Highway 20. The signed trailhead is on the right (milepost 161). Northwest Forest Pass required.

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About

When to do

Summer - Fall

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

Hiking the Blue Lake Trail is a North Cascades favorite. We love it because of the spectacular scenery and ease of access. Located right off Highway 20 (no forest road required), the trailhead is consistently busy during weekends in the summer and fall.

Set out on the trail as it climbs gently through the forest. You’ll be near enough to the highway for this first stretch to hear cars cruising by. But the further you go, the noise dissipates, and the scenery improves. At 1.4km, the trail pops out of the woods into an open meadow. During early summer, this meadow is alive with wildflowers, from heather to lupin and asters. In the fall, golden larches line the trail.

As the trail winds through fragrant wildflower fields, the Liberty Bell Mountain Group comes into view. The most massive of these spires are Liberty Bell (2353m) and South Early Winters (2410m). Peering up at these massifs from below, it’s hard to believe that climbers attempt to scale them – but they absolutely do. You’re likely to pass a few climbers along the trail. At 2.7km the climbers path branches off Blue Lake Trail to the left, marked by a rock cairn. Continue straight for the lake.

As you hike, views open up to the west of Whistler Mountain and Cutthroat Peak across Highway 20. Reach Blue Lake after hiking 3.5km, where you can choose to hike around the east or west lakeshore. These trails are out-and-back paths – do not attempt to loop around Blue Lake’s steep southern end. Head west (right) to cross a sturdy log bridge over a stream and pass the remains of an old cabin. Just ahead, a large rocky area makes for the perfect picnic spot next to Blue Lake.

It’s possible to continue hiking along this trail to the south end of the lake, where wildlife sightings are common. Watch for mountain goats on the high talus slopes, and listen for pika calling out. Always be sure to keep your distance from, and respect all wildlife on the trail.

Return by hiking back the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Hiking to Blue Lake in Autumn is stunning with the golden larches.

  • Stop at nearby Washington Pass Overlook for more Liberty Bell views and a nice picnic area.

  • No backcountry camping is allowed. The nearest trail open to backcountry camping is the PCT North from Rainy Pass.

Comments

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Wyatt Thomas2 weeks ago

Blue Lake is a really pretty afternoon out!

9.0 Overall Rating
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SandraK882 weeks ago

The Blue Lake trail is amazing. So much to see here! and you don't have to go through hell for it like you usually do on strenuous hikes.

10.0 Overall Rating
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2h 15m Time Taken
max2 weeks ago

Brilliant easy walk along the lake. Loved the surrounding colours. The whole atmosphere around the lake is very nice and peaceful

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Otis2 weeks ago

This is a lovely easy walk to the lake. A nice way to spend a few hours if you are in the area

8.0 Overall Rating
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2h 00m Time Taken
Wicked T3 weeks ago

Blue lakes offer some nice views for a short hike. Really worth it

9.0 Overall Rating
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SJ3 weeks ago

Blue Lake is a great family hike!

9.0 Overall Rating
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Cykelly3 weeks ago

Lots of families. It was a bit noisy on the trail.

8.0 Overall Rating
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2h 00m Time Taken
Burokai3 weeks ago

Nice and easy hike. I found the forest walking part to be my favourite. Sadly didn't see much of wildlife but maybe we just had a bad luck

7.0 Overall Rating
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8 Comments

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