Lake Blanche

Kyle Jenkins | Cottonwood Heights, UT

An absolute must-see for the aspiring Wasatch adventurer, Lake Blanche Trail is the perfect mix of challenge and accessibility. The ascent is steep, as is the case with many trails in the Cottonwoods, but the reward at the end of the hike keeps a steady stream of people coming to give it a try.

 Sundial Peak and Dromedary Peak over Lake Blanche

Nearly 4 miles up the trail lies a serene lake with a towering peak known as the Sundial. The jagged dual-spire reflecting in the water below creates a unique and breathtaking scene. From the parking lot the trail begins a few hundred yards up a paved pedestrian road heading east.

The first feature is a short bridge and small memorial to a man who frequented the trail

The start of the actual trail is on the right and is easy to miss; if you reach the waterfall at the end of the road you have gone just a bit too far. The waterfall is worth checking out, however, if you are visiting for the first time. The trail starts with a fairly steep grade and continues steadily. A few flat areas pop up throughout the hike, but they become less frequent as you near the end of the journey.

A pair of fishermen heading home along the Lake Blanche trail.

Take your time if you aren't used to the dry, thin Utah air, and remember that you will be close to 9,000 feet by the end of the trek. Stop at the meadows that pop up occasionally, enjoy the down-canyon view, and use these stops to rehydrate. The grade increases during the last third of the hike, and the scenery becomes even more impressive.

Looking south across the canyon toward Broad Forks Trail and Twin Peaks w/ Sunrise Peak to the left

After passing through some thick aspen groves, the views of Broad's Fork Canyon to the south begin to pop up.

Aspen groves along the upper part of the trail

Dromedary and Sunrise peaks emerge, and the very tip of Sundial begins to make an appearance toward the east. After the final ascent you'll make your way across a short retaining wall and toward the lake. From the large, smooth rocks that surround the area you'll find yourself gazing at Sundial Peak sitting directly above Lake Blanche, a rare and stunning sight.

Great views of Sundial Peak open up as you make the final approach

The canyon opens up toward Broad's Fork, creating a large panoramic view. This is a true jewel within the Wasatch that is not overcrowded given its beauty and access.

The scree field where the trail gets tricky for just a bit.

Note that there is one point near the end of the trail where the path seems to dead end at a boulder field while heading west. The trick is to head up the boulder field facing north and then to turn right after just a few yards. The trail begins again to the east, facing Sundial Peak in the distance, 180 degrees from the direction you faced as the trail met the scree field.

Sundial Peak aglow at sunset

Pros: Amazing views down canyon. Beautiful lake. Wildfowers. Easy access to the trailhead.

Cons: Steep. Can be a little crowded. No dogs. Exposed at times.

Congestion: Moderate

Preferable Season(s): Summer, Fall

Day-Use/Parking Pass Required: Not Required

Total Distance: 5.60 mi (9.01 km)

Trailhead Elev.: 6,300 ft (1,920 m)

Net Elev. Gain: 2,600 ft (792 m)

Trail Uses: Hiking

Trail type: There-and-back

Dogs allowed: No

 

Check out more about this trail at Outdoor Project or download the PDF guide to print and take with you.