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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lake Blanche Hike - Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Lake Blanche Hike

Lake Blanche, Lake Florence, Lake Lillian and Sundial Peak
Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

If you live in Utah, you have probably heard about Lake Blanche.  And if you haven't hiked it, you really should.  Let me spend the next few minutes convincing you.

It is one of the most popular hikes up in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  A hike up the canyon brings you to some gorgeous lakes.   Lake Blanche, Lake Florence, Lake Lillian and Sundial Peak are your rewards for the ~ 2,900' elevation gain over 3.5 - 4 miles.  And lots of wildlife to enjoy!  On this hike alone I saw various chipmunks, a marmot, a snake, and moose!

This hike isn't easy, you are going to sweat and get in an awesome glute workout.  But I promise, the views at the top are spectacular.  I wish we had more time to relax around this gorgeous scenic lake area.  

Mill B South Trailhead 

Trailhead:  Mill B South Trailhead.  The trailhead is 4.5 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon

Distance:  What I read said 2.6 to 2.8 each way.  I found that it was about 3.5 miles to Lake Blanche, and about 4 miles to Lake Lillian, the furthest lake.  Up to the furthest lake and back was 8 miles round trip.   The trail head fills up quick but there is a good amount of overflow parking along the road.  When you see a sharp bend in the road with a ton of cars parked along it, you are there. 

Level:  I would say moderate to hard.  The trail goes up the entire way with really no flat.  Some parts are also very steep and rocky.  Getting down takes a lot of paying attention crossing the boulders.  

Dogs:  Nope- no dogs anywhere in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I did see a girl carrying her tea cup-poodle-yorkie something up the trail.  Nope lady, rules still apply to you and your 3 lb dog.  

Notes:  This is a busy trail and it is only wide enough for one person at a time.  Make sure you are courteous and share the trail with others coming up/down.  It is busy and it is a thin trail! It seemed to be a popular backpacking spot as a lot of people were coming down with a lot of gear. 

Twin Peaks Wilderness Sign, Wasatch National Forest 

Lake Blanche Trail and Wild Flowers 

The wild flowers in July were gorgeous.  Stop and smell the roses flowers!

Moose munching in the trees 
Making our way up the trail, all the sudden the couple in front of me stops, and starts giving me all these crazy hand signals.  I finally realize he is making the signal for a deer or something.  I walk up and see a WALL of moose, munching on greenery about 15' off the trail.  I was very close to Mr. Moose but he did not seem to mind too much.  About 20 more feet up the trail, two more moose were laying down in the field in the distance.  Be respectful and courteous of the wildlife - this moose was a little too close for comfort.  They can be very aggressive if they are with their young. 

Rocky edge along the Lake Blanche Trail 

Just when you are super tired and sick of the elevation, you will hit some rocky bouldery sections.  You are almost there and enjoy the beauty of this crazy rock. 

Lake Blanche Trail and Sundial Peak 

And the gorgeous views continue. 
 Sundial Peak in front of you with a trail cutting through wild flowers. 
Is this real life?

Marmot on the Lake Blanche Trail, Utah 

At about this point, I met my first rodent friend.  This adorable friend looked like a cross between a fat squirrel and a weird beaver.  Turns out, he is a marmot, a yellow bellied marmot, popular to Utah.  He was pretty cute and I think used to being fed.  DON'T feed the critters. DO take their pictures.

Marmot on the Lake Blanche Trail, Utah 
Lake Blanche and Sundial Peak
And then here you are, gorgeous Lake Blanche.  A lot bigger than I thought, even more beautiful than I imagined.  Take a break, eat lunch, and soak up the serene setting of the lake. Even on a Sunday evening it was calm and peaceful up here.  The lake is big enough that you can find your own peaceful spot. BLT tastes so much better after a long hike with this sort of a view. 

Enjoying a BLT with views of Lake Blanche and Sundial Peak

You made it this far, you might as well continue past Blanche to see the other lakes up here. Lake Florence and Lake Lillian are beyond Blanche and are equally as beautiful and more serene. You will see the past leading past Blanche, follow it. 

Trail leading away from Lake Blanche to the other Lakes 

Lake Florence 

wildflowers at Lake Florence 

Again, the wild flowers.  They are insanely gorgeous this time of year.  Those yellows.....

Gorgeous rock slabs along Lake Blanche 

Its not allllll about the lakes.  The rocks around the lakes are an art form.  The colors, the texture, these are the prettiest rocks I have ever seen.  Also stop and marvel at these gorgeous wall/dams built around the lake. 

Stone wall along the lakes - much deserved rest 

Lake Lillian 

Not only will you find the beautiful lakes, but you will see a waterfall past Lake Blanche. 

Waterfall by Lake Blanche 

Lake Blanche, you were simply beautiful.  
The geology, the lakes, the wild flowers, what a gorgeous spot.  It is a long trip to get there but worth every step for these views.  Sunshine and solitude at  Sundial Peak.  

If you are like me, you worked up an appetite on this hike and spent the entire hike dreaming of Porcupine Grill nachos. and a cold beer.  

Go for it, you earned it!
Thanks for the gorgeous pictures Utah. 


  1. Wonderful pics! Would like to share this hike with you sometime. I am posting many pics from my recent journeys up nearby Mineral Fork trail, including views of Lake Blanche from the ridgeline that overlooks both areas. I'd like to expand my range. tominutah"at"

    1. Hi Tom! Awesome! I would love to see your other shots! Please email me at Looking forward!

  2. I pretty much did everything you suggested, including the restaurant, haha

    1. Yes! It is such an awesome hike and the nachos after are an amazing reward. I hope you enjoyed the hike and the food! Thanks for reading!

      Katie @ Katie Wanders


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