Lake Blanche Hike – Salt Lake’s Best Trail

The Mooses overlooking Lake Blanche and Sundial Peak
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Lake Blanche Hiking Stats

Trail DescriptionOut and back
Trail LocationLake Blanche Trailhead, Utah 84121 in the Big Cottonwood Canyon area
Parking Lot40.63360, -111.72333
Round Trip Mileage6.8 miles
Average Time3 – 5 hours
DifficultyStrenuous
Elevation Gain ~2,600 feet
Elevation Start~6,307 feet
Elevation End~8,920 feet
Best time to visitSpring, Summer, Fall
Entrance FeeFree
Rating5.0 Mooses
Elevation profile for Lake Blanche in Utah
Elevation profile of Lake Blanche Trail

Related: Check out the video of our experience!

Our experience on the Lake Blanche trail

Described as one of the most “breathtaking hikes in the Salt Lake City area,” we couldn’t wait to experience this trail for ourselves.  Unfortunately, when we originally planned our Salt Lake adventure, we were expecting temperatures in the mid-80s.  We happened to arrive mid-June when Salt Lake was experiencing an unprecedented heat wave.  We chose our hiking day when the temperature would be at it’s lowest during our visit with a forecast of only 99 degrees vs the 104 on our previous days. 

Sign board in Mill B South parking lot with rules and regulations of hike
Sign board in parking lot – warning of car break-ins

The high temperatures meant we had to get an early start to avoid the hottest part of the day.  We agreed we’d hit the trail by 6:30 AM and be back down to the car before noon.  With an estimated hiking time up of around 2 hours we figured it would be an enjoyable experience despite the heat.

We snagged a parking spot in the lot around 6:25AM and were hiking up the Mill B South Trail by 6:31AM.  Right on schedule. 

Mill B South Paved Trail
Starting on the paved Mill B South Trail

The Mill B South trail starts off on a wide paved path with a roaring stream off to the left. 

Rushing water on Mill B South Trail

After a short distance, the official Lake Blanche Trail starts at a right fork off the Mill B trail.  It may be tempting to stay on the lovely paved path, but the steep rocky path to the right is where the real fun begins. 

Trail fork at Lake Blanche and Mill B South
First ascent of the official Lake Blanche trail

The trail rises steadily uphill for the entire hike to the lake.  The first 30% or so of the trail continues to follow the aforementioned stream (at least in June) as you meander through a variety of forests and meadows. 

Spectacular mountain views begin almost immediately and can be seen in front of you and behind as you traverse the trail. 

Mountain trail near Lake Blanche in Utah
Beautiful mountain views

We were pleasantly surprised and excited to see a lovely waterfall cascading down the hills ahead of us maybe half way to the lake. 

Waterfall in Wasatch National Forest
Waterfall seen in the distance

Because we started so early on the trail, there were only a few others on the way up.  Shade was abundant and the mosquitos were still too tired to bug us. 

Man on the Lake Blanche Trail
Sun is beginning to come out

Even with adequate time to stop for the multiple picture breaks, we made it to Lake Blanche in about 2 hours and 15 minutes.  There were two others that were enjoying the lake when we arrived, but they quickly left and we found ourselves alone to enjoy the serene landscape. 

Sundial Peak in the distance at Lake Blanche in Utah
Sundial Peak overlooking Lake Blanche

The quiet quickly paid off as a large marmot crested the hill in front of us and seemed to pose as I happily snapped away.  Sadly, we didn’t see any moose that frequently frolic in the area, but keep your eyes out for them when you’re at the top. If you are lucky and look closely, we were also told you could potentially see goats in the rocky terrain rising behind the lake.

Marmot with Lake Blanche in Utah in the background
Large Marmot at Lake Blanche in Utah
Marmot at Lake Blanche

After we took in the views, we decided to continue farther around Lake Blanche to check out the nearby Lake Lillian and Lake Florence.  There are some great camping spots around the lake (we saw a few campsites with gear but no people) along with a great view to the NW of the valley and Salt Lake City in the distance.  Be sure to check that out!

Mountain lakes of Lillian, Florence and Blanche seen
Lakes Lillian and Florence

By this point it was starting to get pretty warm and we decided it was time to head back.  Plus, there was now a steady stream of visitors reaching the lake area.  We started our descent down, pausing only to move for other hikers on the trail. One other notable change was that where the trail was fully shaded on our climb up, it was now mostly drenched in sunshine.  We watched as red faced, sweaty hikers trapsed up the hill and we were silently thankful we got a very early start.  

Orange and yellow butterfly at Lake Blanche
Beautiful butterfly

Our journey down was just as scenic as the way up and we made good time headed back to the car.  We finished the hike around 11:50AM, just under our noon cutoff for a total time on the trail of 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Women looking at Salt Lake city from the Lake Blanche Trailhead
Salt Lake City seen in the distance

Despite the warning signs about potential car break-ins at the trailhead, we didn’t have any issues.  It was a great hike and one we’d love to do again in the future.   

Should you visit or skip the Lake Blanche Trail?

Rating:  5.0 Mooses

5 Mooses rating
  • What we liked
    • The views were better than we ever dreamed.   We enjoyed mountains, streams, waterfalls and wildflowers throughout the day.
    • The trail was well-marked and our journey up to the Lake was mostly in the shade.
    • Wildlife ranging from birds to marmots to jumping fish.
  • What we didn’t like
    • Bugs!  As soon as the temperatures started to rise the bugs came out in force.  As much of the trail is in foliage that is ripe for bugs, it’s nearly impossible to get away from them.  This hike is a must to have bug spray!
    • Crowds.  For a weekday hike, there was a surprising number of hikers on the trail starting around 10AM.  When we arrived back in the parking lot, it was completely full and overflow had started on the street.  Don’t expect solitude on this hike.

Verdict:  This hike is worth the effort!  We’d love to hike this trail again in the future. 

Stream in Big Cottonwood Canyon along Lake Blanche Trail
Stream along the trail

Know before you go

  • This trail is popular for a reason.  If you’re going to visit on a weekend, get to the trailhead early to secure a spot. 
  • Adequate water is recommended for this hike, especially if you get a late start.  The way up was mostly in shade for us, but on the way back down around 10AM the trail was mostly exposed in sunshine.
  • Bring bug spray if you will be traveling during the summer months. 
  • Dogs aren’t allowed on the trail (even if on a leash).
  • We didn’t find the elevation gain to be too difficult, but many find it to be a demanding climb. 
  • Swimming isn’t permitted in the Lakes as the trail is a protected watershed. 
  • Moose are seen frequently on this trail as well as marmots.
Birch trees in Wasatch national forest
Birch trees along the trail

Frequently asked questions about Lake Blanche Trail

What is the Lake Blanche trail like?

The trail is well marked and we found it easy to navigate both on the way up and the way back.

Steep rocky trail in LakeBlanche
Rocky path up the trail

The trail can be rocky in some places, but we felt it was manageable. It is a fairly steady uphill climb the entire way to the lakes.

Trail marker leading the way through a rock fall in Wasatch forest
Rock fall section of the trail

Is a pass needed to park at the Lake Blanche Trailhead?

No.  As of June 2021, there was no fee or pass required to park at the trailhead. 

What is the parking like at the Lake Blanche Trailhead?

Parking lot at Lake Blanche Trailhead
Limited parking in the official Mill B South lot

There is a small lot (approx. 20 cars) at the Mill B South lot off of Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.  The parking lot fills up early on weekends and can be quite busy on weekdays as well.  Overflow parking is available on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road; however, this would be a challenge in the winter months due to snow.  Be sure to leave all valuables at home or hide them well in your vehicle as car break-ins are rampart at the trailhead.  A nearby sign warns of “daily” break-ins.

Parking Map for Lake Blanche Trailhead in Utah
Map of parking at trailhead
Cars lined up on Big Cottonwood Canyon road outside Lake Blanche trailhead
Overflow parking for the Lake Blanche Trail, located on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road

Where can I find a map of the Lake Blanche Trail?

There is a trail map available at the beginning of the Lake Blanche trail.

Lake Blanche information trail map
Lake Blanche official trail map

We’ve also included a detailed map of our route and also the lakes at the summit of the trail.

Map from parking lot of Mill B south trail to Lake Blanche
Trail Map of Lake Blanche in Wasatch National Forest
Lake Blanche, Lake Lillian and Lake Florence Trail Map
Camping locations and viewpoints at summit

Can you swim in Lake Blanche, Lake Lillian or Lake Florence?

No, swimming is not allowed in the lakes as the area is a protected watershed. 

Are there any restrooms at the Mill B South / Lake Blanche trailhead?

Yes, there are restrooms at the trailhead.

Restrooms at Mill B South Trail
Restrooms in parking area

More information for your trip to Salt Lake City:

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The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional advice, including but not limited to, health, safety, financial, legal, or psychological advice.

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