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Blue Lake Larch Hike in the North Cascades

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Last year, we wrote about the short lived joy of fall hiking to see larches in the high eastern Cascades. This North Cascades Blue Lake larch hike at Rainy Pass on the North Cascades Highway is another winner! (Not to be confused with the several other Blue Lakes in Washington State)

It’s a long drive, but a fantastic hike and worth every minute (to make the drive easier you could stay in Mazama or Winthrop, or camp at Pearrygin Lake State Park, as we did on this trip). It’s 4.5 miles round trip, with about 1000 feet of elevation gain, which is fairly steady along the trail (never extremely steep). The hike starts in the forest and slowly opens up to more views as you get closer to the lake.

Bright yellow larch needles against a background of evergreen trees and fresh snow

Snow on golden larches on the Blue Lake trail.

The hike started out with heavy snow and fog, completely obscuring the view. Still, the fall colors were spectacular and the snow was fun. The lake has amazing scenery, but the snow was so heavy we didn’t stay there long.

An alpine lake is surrounded by light snow on evergreen trees. It's foggy and difficult to see across the lake

Blue Lake in the snow

As soon as we started down the snow let up and the sun came out, bringing out some of the views!

Golden larches mix with evergreen trees against high mountains on the Blue lake larch hike. There is a dusting of snow on the trees and rocks and the sky is blue with white clouds

View of Liberty Bell on the Blue Lake trail

This is an ideal hike if you’re looking for a relatively mellow and easier way to hike to larches, or if you need a leg stretch while crossing along the North Cascades Highway! It’s a beautiful hike throughout the season (North Cascades highway is open from late May till the first heavy snow usually sometime in November), but in fall it is extra amazing with the golden larches! Get out there and enjoy the North Cascades Blue Lake larch hike and those high larch hikes before they are completely snowed in!

Golden larches mix with evergreen trees against high mountains on the Blue lake larch hike. There is a dusting of snow on the trees and rocks and the sky is blue with white clouds. Text reads: Blue Lake hike in the North Cascades

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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!