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Blue Lake Creek

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Dark Divide
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4.8 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 2100 ft.
Highest Point: 4000 ft.


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WTA worked here: 2016

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Nestled in a deep basin in the Dark Divide, Blue Lake lies at the headwaters of Blue Creek and offers more than 11 miles of trail for hikers, bikers and equestrians alike to enjoy.

Visitors climb steadily through conifer forests to the crystal waters of a lake in the heart of Bigfoot country. Some believe the lake was formed when a stream was dammed by lava from Blue Lake Volcano, a cinder cone west of the lake.

With history and myths like this surrounding this area, it's no surprise that the trail sees heavy use. Users are dispersed as they near the lake: bikers and equestrians use the Jumpoff Trail and Bishop Ridge to loop around the lake, while hikers can continue in relative quiet on the Blue Lake Trail just past the lake.

The hike is a decent challenge because it's a narrow, steep trail. The terrain is interesting, with waterfalls and its trademark basalt columns. If you like solitude, this is the trail for you.

The trail ascends to the canyon of Blue Lake Creek, sometimes very steeply (stone steps in some stretches provide much-needed help), and then follows it for most of the remainder of the hike.

No overwhelming views, but occasional ones down to the Cispus valley. The canyon is very pretty, rising nearly vertically on the other side of the creek from the trail, with several small waterfalls and interesting formations.

About 1/4 mile before the lake is a junction with Blue Lake Ridge trail 271. (Note: motorized vehicles are permitted on 271.) Some past logging is visible from the trail shortly before the junction. Campsites are available at the lake, which is quite large and very blue.


Blue Lake Creek

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.4102, -121.7337 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Dark Divide

Blue Lake Hiker (#274)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cowlitz Valley Ranger District

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Guidebooks & Maps

Green Trails No. 334 Blue Lake

Getting There

From Hwy 12 in Randle, take the junction with signs pointing to Mount St. Helens, cross the Cowlitz River, and take the left fork to Forest Road 23. The turnoff to the Hiker trailhead is at mile 16 on this road. The road to the trailhead may be narrow and bumpy.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Blue Lake Creek

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