The Lake Blanche Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of the most popular and crowded hikes in the Wasatch. But there is a good reason for the amount of human traffic on the trail, and that is the view from Lake Blanche is one of the most scenic in the Wasatch Front.
The trailhead begins in Big Cottonwood Canyon just before the S Curves. There is a small paved road that branches off to the south where parking and restrooms are found. A short walk up-canyon on a paved footpath leads to the Lake Blanche Trailhead, which is marked by a wood sign. From this point, the hike continues up a side canyon through dense foliage, over a rushing creek and into groves of oak and aspen trees.
The trail ascends for a steep 2.8 miles straight up the canyon (with a few switchbacks here and there.) The vegetation is so dense that at times it feels like hiking through a jungle, but the trail is very well traveled and maintained. As the path gets higher, the bushes and trees get thinner, revealing huge, glacier-carved cirques below snow-capped peaks. Before long, Sundial Peak emerges from above a pass at the top of the canyon.
After walking over the glacier-scratched rocks at the end of the hike, Lake Blanche comes into view. This is the destination, and most people stop for lunch to take in the scenery. There are two other lakes in the vicinity, Lake Florence and Lake Lillian, though many hikers tend not to travel there. As a result, the smaller lakes are good spots for anyone looking for a bit more solitude in the mountains.
Sundial Peak is the main attraction at the end of the hike. Topping out at 10,320 feet, the pyramid-shaped Sundial dominates the skyline and often is reflected on the calm waters of Lake Blanche. The entire vista is surrounded by other peaks of the Twin Peaks Wilderness Area, including Dromedary Peak and Superior Peak.
When enough time is spent relaxing at Lake Blanche, it’s a steep hike back down to the car for a total of 5.6 miles round trip. A lot of people underestimate the difficulty of the hike, so wear a good pair of shoes and bring plenty of water. Despite the workout, the views of the Wasatch landscape make it obvious as to why the Lake Blanche Trail is among the most well-traveled hikes in Utah.