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Lake Blanche | Ultimate Backpacking Guide

Lake Blanche is a beautiful alpine lake near Salt Lake City, UT that is a popular hiking and backpacking trail. This special place in the Twin Peaks Wilderness is a challenging hike but so worth it when you reach the stunning panoramic views at the top.

Lake Blanche sits within the amazing Wasatch Mountains. This is one of our absolute favorite hikes in the Salt Lake City Area.

Sunrise at Lake Blanche

Once you reach the top of the hike you can see Sundial Peak towering over the beautiful lake below and a view of the Great Salt Lake behind you. There are also two smaller sister lakes called Florence and Lillian. 

Below you will find all the details about the Lake Blanche hike along with a backpacking guide.

Hiking Stats For Lake Blanche:

Distance: 6.9 miles

Elevation: 2706 ft

Difficulty: Hard

Type: Out & back

Permit: No

Bathroom: Yes

Dogs: No

Lake Blanche Trailhead (aka Mill B South Trailhead)

The Lake Blanche trailhead is easy to find located off Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Do note it is a small parking lot. It is also known as Mill B South Trailhead. And if you plan to get there after 8am, you will most likely already see the cars lining up along the highway to the trailhead. 

There are two different lots, both with about 15 parking spots each, so they both fill up fast. There are also a few different hikes in the area, so these small parking lots are often full. But for overflow, parking along the side of the road is legal (during the day). 

Parking At The Lake Blanche Trailhead For Backpackers:

If you are planning to backpack the trail and you are in a campervan, you might want to consider calling in your license plate to the police. We were parked along the highway, and it is illegal to sleep in your vehicle on the streets in Salt Lake City. 

We had an interesting call at 1 am from the Salt Lake City Police Department when camped up at Lake Blanche. They told us our van was going to be towed because they thought we were sleeping inside. 

But we luckily had cell service up at our campsite so we were able to get ahold of the police officer to reassure him we weren’t inside and were actually backpacking up at the lake. Our van wasn’t towed, but just for peace of mind, it might be a good idea to let them know you are backpacking and not camping overnight at the trailhead. 

Start Of Lake Blanche Hike:

Emily with her backpacking pack along the trail on the Lake Blanche Hike
Along the trail on the Lake Blanche Hike

The start of the hike is along a paved path that follows the creek to your left. You follow the paved walkway for a ¼ mile and turn right at the post labeled Lake Blanche. This is where the incline begins, and to be honest, continues to be a steady climb the rest of the trail. 

About 1/2 mile along the trail, you will cross the creek on a man-made bridge. That is the one and only time you will have to cross the creek. The trail continues to climb through stunning aspen groves.

The trail is well maintained, but a pretty narrow path with a few rocky sections. It can be difficult when the trail is busy to constantly let people pass. 

There are a handful of good “break” spots along the trail, so you can pull off to sit and enjoy a snack and to catch your breath!

Emily with her backpacking pack on with the view toward the top of the Lake Blanche Trail
View along Lake Blanche Hike

Along The Lake Blanche Trail:

Rock Pile Along Lake Blanche Trail

You will eventually run into a small boulder field where it might look like the trail ends. But if you just climb 10-15 feet up the rock pile you will run into the path again to your right.

So just be prepared for this abrupt switchback. They have it pretty well labeled, but it is just a piece of plastic saying trail this way which could fall or blow away. At this point, you are on the last stretch to the lake! 

Lake Blanche:

Emily sitting on the shorline of Lake Blanch staring at Sundial Peak
Emily sitting with the view of Lake Blanche

Once you finally climb the 3.5 miles uphill, you have reached Lake Blanche. And you will finally see the view you have been waiting for! The lake is absolutely stunning and lined with beautiful pine trees.

Once you reach the lake you can go left which will lead you to a waterfall and toward the right will lead you to the other two lakes.

View of Salt Lake City from Lake Blanche
View of Salt Lake City & The Great Salt Lake from Lake Blanche

Along the route, you will get a stunning view of lush green mountains where you can get a glimpse of The Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City in the distance. 

Lake Florence & Lake Lillian:

View of Lake Florence which is the third lake on the Lake Blanche Hike
Lake Florence

There are two other small lakes past Lake Blanche to the right: Lake Florence and Lake Lillian. It’s an additional 1-mile round trip hike to the other two alpine lakes.

To get to Lake Florence and Lake Lillian just follow the trail to the right, if you are looking at Sundial Peak. The other two lakes are beautiful, but the coolest lake is definitely Lake Blanche. 

View of Lake Lillian which is the third lake on the Lake Blanche Hike
Lake Lillian

There is a waterfall leading into Lake Florence from Lake Blanche which you should definitely check out on the way.

No Swimming & No Dogs At Lake Blanche:

The water runoff from Big Cottonwood Canyon is part of Salt Lake City’s water supply, therefore no swimming is allowed in the lake. Dogs are not allowed in Big Cottonwood Canyon all together. 

Sundial Peak:

View of Sundial Peak Through Trees At Lake Blanche
View of Sundial Peak Through Trees At Lake Blanche

Hiking up to Sundial Peak is an additional 2.6 miles with a 1303ft elevation gain. It isn’t a well-maintained path, so bring along a GPS so you can try to find the best path (we personally like using the AllTrails Maps).

Backpacking Lake Blanche:

Emily staring off in the distance to Sundial Peak at Lake Blanche next to our tent on a cliff
Emily standing next to the tent at Lake Blanche

In my opinion, backpacking makes this place even more special. Being there for sunrise and sunset are just such beautiful moments.  You are more likely to see wildlife like moose and deer once the sun is down.

There are a handful of great spots to tent camp around the area, but some offering a more epic view then others. We found a little ledge to the right of Lake Blanche that overlooked Sundial Peak and Lake Blanche.

But, if you choose this spot, you will want an air sleeping pad because you will be camped on top of rocks.

We also saw people camped just on the path up on the rock mounds, and they clearly had a stunning view. But plan to have dozens of people walk right through your camp. Note, that you won’t have a way to stake your tent to the rock, so you will need to have something heavy inside to hold it down.

A yellow tent with Lake Blanche in the Background
Tent with Lake Blanche in the Background

Or if you are a hammock camper, there are a decent amount of trees where you could set up.  The big grove of Aspen trees to the back left of the lake would make a good place.

View of Sundial Peak at Lake Blanche Through the tent with Jake and Emilys feet
View of Sundial Peak at Lake Blanche Through the tent

Check out this AllTrails map of campsites to get an idea of some of the campsites that surround the area. Be sure to Leave No Trace and stick to the established campsites.

Lake Blanche All Trails Map Of Campsites
Lake Blanche All Trails Map Of Campsites

Best Time To Hike Lake Blanche:

The Lake Blanche Hike is best done during the summer months. For the best weather, hiking in July and August will provide the best hiking conditions. But in late spring (early June to late June) the snow should be mostly melted (depending on the snowfall the previous winter).

Lake Blanche is also a popular hike in the winter months. You will likely want snowshoes or Yaktrax. Check the avalanche danger before hiking. (Check out our winter hiking tips for mountainous terrain).

Sunset at Lake Blanche looking away from Sundial Peak
Sunset at Lake Blanche looking away from Sundial Peak

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