Washington's Best Alpine Lakes

Written by Kevin Monahan @kevindeanmonahan

Washington is home of to an abundance of jaw dropping alpine lakes with mountain views all around. Once the summer comes around and all the lakes melt it can be pretty hard to decide which ones you should see since they are all equally deserving of a trip out. Below I will tell you 3 alpine lakes I think you should visit if you happen to be in Washington this summer or early fall!

1. Picture Lake:

Come here to set your eyes on one of the most photographic mountain landscapes in North America. Situated up in the Mount Baker ski area, this parking lot lake is just a 2 minute walk from the road. When fully melted the lake beautifully reflects Mt. Shuksan and is truly a sight to see! If you have time, keep driving up the road to Artist Point where you can see even better views of Shuksan along with Baker and also have access to a few more hiking trails. If you are a photographer I suggest heading up to Picture Lake during new moon to shoot the stars and see the Milky Way reflecting in the lake and then head up to Artist Point to catch sunrise. By the time the sun is up you will have a camera filled with pictures and a full day ahead of you still!

2. Blanca Lake:

This is one of those lakes that fits the expression, “you need to see it to believe it.” This lake is located near Stevens Pass and is 7.5 miles roundtrip with a total elevation gain of 3300 feet. While the hike itself is quite difficult with about 30 or so steep switchbacks, the views more than make up for it. You will pass some nice mountain views while you are hiking along the ridgeline and you will also hike past a smaller pretty lake that is made up entirely of snowmelt and rainwater. After this lake, continue to head down until you reach Blanca Lake. Minerals in the sediment from the nearby glacier have caused this lake to become a vibrant mint green that is unlike anything you will ever see! This can be a great day hike or overnight trip since there are a number of camping spots as you start to hike around the lake. If you do have the extra time, you can hike around to the other side and up to the Columbia Glacier. Hang your hammock and enjoy the spectacular views!

3. Colchuck Lake:

This is probably one of my favorite lakes I have been to in the PNW and once you are here you will immediately know why. Located in Leavenworth, this 8.0 mile roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of 2280 feet leads you to a breathtaking lake with two towering peaks behind it. In the shade this lake is a deep blue but once the sun is out it becomes a bright aquamarine and reflects the spire of Dragontail perfectly. This is a very popular hike which is why you must have a permit to camp here and in the surrounding Enchantments area which is won through a lottery system. Mountain goats roam this area so keep your eyes peeled and you might see one… or even five! If you have the time or energy, you can also see Stuart Lake which is another 1 mile but worth it in my opinion. For Colchuck I would get an early start to catch a wonderful sunrise and then spend time walking around the lake or hammock in the nearby trees. Whatever you do here, you won’t regret it.


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