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Blue Lake

South Cascades

Location

South Cascades -- Dark Divide
View map below

Length

5.2 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 900 ft.
Highest Point: 5200 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

 
WTA worked here: 2016
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

This short, hiker-only trail in the Dark Divide connects hikers to an arresting, appropriately named blue lake jumping with fish. If you can get past its quiet shores, it's a short jaunt to connect with the Craggy Peak trail and miles of ridgeline hiking that the Dark Divide Roadless Area affords.

From the trailhead at the end of Road 9331, descend into open forest. Tall trees tower over you--noble fir, grand fir, and Doug-fir lend their scent to the air. The rolling trail guides you through two large meadows. These green oases are bursting with lupine and avalanche lilies once the snow melts out, but note that snow sticks around late in the season here, and these areas can be boggy when wet.

After passing through two meadows, the trail rises up only to make a final plunge down to Blue Lake. That's right--only a mile into your hike and you're already at your destination!

Blue Lake is visible from the small hill you climb out of the meadow, but a trail winds around and plops you right on the edge of its gorgeous, blue-green waters. This is a great spot for families who want to fish, camp, or simply do a short dayhike.

But the trail continues. If you feel like further exploration, push on past the lake. The trail continues to roll, but with more elevation gain and loss, before crossing a babbling creek at the mile and a half mark, and then popping out into a wide wildflower meadow.

Bees buzz here (and other bugs--bring your spray). A small seasonal stream wends its way through the meadow, and at the north edge is a small camp, Basin Camp.

The only trick here is the trail. It vanishes. To continue on, follow the white diamond markers across the meadow, where the trail picks up again. It's quite rutted here from spring runoff, but past the steep incline to get out of the meadow, the trail improves and you'll arrive at the Craggy Peak trail in a little more than half a mile.

From here, you can hike either way along the Craggy Peak Trail. To the left leads back to the Craggy Peak trailhead in about 5 miles. A right turn takes you deeper into the Dark Divide, towards views of Mount Adams and St Helens, as well as Craggy Peak.

 

Blue Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.2303, -121.8654 Open map in new window

Trailhead

South Cascades -- Dark Divide

Blue Lake Hiker (#3A)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails Lone Butte No. 365

Green Trails McCoy Peak No. 333

Getting There

From Cougar, drive the Lewis River Road (FR 90) along Swift Reservoir for 19 miles to the Pine Creek Information Center. Pass the info center, and stay on the main road for 5.5 miles.

Here, there is a junction at the hairpin curve with Road 93. Veer right onto Road 93 (intermittent gravel and pavement, but high clearance recommended) and drive for 14.4 miles. At a 'Y' junction, take the left road, FR 9331. This is a rough road with high clearance required. Continue on 9331 for 2.9 miles and proceed to the end.

The trailhead can accommodate about 10 cars. No facilities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Blue Lake

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