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Blue Lake

North Cascades

Location

North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area
View map below

Length

1.7 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 300 ft.
Highest Point: 3984 ft.

Rating

4.06 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2015
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
7.8.20 Road Closed: This trailhead is inaccessible due to a washed out bridge on Forest Road 12 one mile past its junction with Forest Road 13.
 
 

One of several Blue Lakes in Washington State, this Blue Lake lies about four and a half miles south of Mount Baker and requires less than a mile of hiking to reach it. Its translucent blue-green colors peek out beneath the shadows of a sheer rock wall partially encircling the lake, a reward for conquering the somewhat eroded and rooty trail that leads to it. Families, anglers, and hikers looking to experience a pretty subalpine lake will enjoy this short, yet memorable hike.

Start your hike from the parking lot on the shared trail for Blue Lake and Dock Butte. Sign your name at the trail register and continue through forests of pacific silver fir, subalpine fir, Douglas fir, and cedar. WTA worked here in summer 2015 to clear overgrown brush on the trail and to help prevent further wear and tear, so offer a silent tip of the hat to the volunteers who gave this trail some much needed TLC.

About a quarter mile into your hike you will reach a signed junction where the trail splits. Bear left for Blue Lake, passing cascade blueberry bushes and small meadows filled with young conifers and Sitka mountain ash. Enjoy berry picking in the summertime and the vibrant colors of the blueberry bushes and mountain ash in the fall.

Soon a swath of tall, older conifers appears with thick, rivulet-studded bark and high boughs climbing up on their tiptoes towards the sky. Catch your first glimpse of the imposing rock walls encircling Blue Lake at the 0.7 mile mark, and begin descending about 60 feet in elevation to the northern part of the lake. This section is just slightly steep with exposed roots that can get muddy and slippery: lend a helping hand to those who might need it descending and then re-ascending the trail here.

Arrive at the lake after hiking 0.85 miles from the parking lot. Here you can take a short, steep spur trail on your right down to the water where there are some rocks for sitting. However, a better spot for resting, picnicking, enjoying views of the lake and dipping toes in the water lies about a quarter mile south at an elevated mound flanked by long shallow rocks jutting out into the lake.

If you plan to head to this area, take care to stay on the trail closest to the lake to help prevent further erosion of the trails and meadows here. There are several short social trails within this area, most leading to campsites, water sources, and brushy dead ends. Fly amanita mushrooms, with their round, white-flecked reddish-orange caps, grow here too and are fun to spot; however, refrain from picking and consuming them: they are poisonous.

Brook trout, a colorful fish with distinct red dots and a flaming yellowish orange underbelly, are abundant in Blue Lake. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages fishing here to help keep their population manageable; however, anglers are limited to five fish each in accordance with the Department’s fishing guidelines. A Washington State fishing license is required for fishing at Blue Lake.

EXTENDING YOUR HIKE: Explore the Dock Butte trail to catch a glimpse of Mount Baker or to head up to the summit of Dock Butte for a two-for-one hike. From Blue Lake, hike back to the intersection with the Blue Lake/Dock Butte sign, following the arrow for the Dock Butte trail. To catch a glimpse of Mount Baker, ascend about a quarter mile and 250 feet in elevation. The views of Mount Baker only get better from here, so if you’re feeling hardy, continue on to the Dock Butte summit. Taking the Dock Butte trail to the summit will add roughly 4.0 miles roundtrip and 1500 feet in elevation gain to your Blue Lake hike.

 

Blue Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 48.6565, -121.7723 Open map in new window

Trailhead

North Cascades -- Mount Baker Area

Blue Lake (#604)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Mount Baker Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: North Cascades (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Hamilton 45

USDA Forest Service Topo Map: Baker Pass

Getting There

Take I-5 to exit 230 for Highway 20 East. Continue for 22.5 miles, following the signs for Highway 20 East. About 0.15 miles past a brown sign for Baker Lake Sno-Park, turn left onto signed Baker Lake Road (Forest Road 11).

Continue for 12 miles on Baker Lake Road. Just past Rocky Creek Bridge, turn left onto unsigned Forest Road 12. Continue on Forest Road 12 for 3.5 miles. Reach a junction and continue straight, following the sign for Blue Lake. After another 3.2 miles, turn left at the sign for Blue Lake onto Forest Road 1230. Continue on Forest Road 1230 for 3.6 miles, staying on the main road to the trailhead and parking lot. There is room for roughly 15 cars and there is a vault toilet at the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
7.8.20 Road Closed: This trailhead is inaccessible due to a washed out bridge on Forest Road 12 one mile past its junction with Forest Road 13.
 

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Blue Lake

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