“A popular trail to the South Blue Lake Group in the Sky Lakes Wilderness.”
— Bruce Hope
Lake · Swimming · Wildlife
The usual federal wilderness area regulations and restrictions apply here. There may also be additional wilderness-specific restrictions in force; check with the district office if in doubt. Practice Leave No Trace (LNT) backcountry skills and ethics. Camp 100 feet from fragile areas; bury human waste at least 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites. This trail is usually closed by snow from November to June.
NOTE: The USFS website confuses the Blue Canyon Trail #982 with the Meadow Lake Trail #976
. The #976 drops down from the Cat Hill Way Trail #992
and does not start at the Blue Canyon Trailhead like the #982 does.
Starting at the Blue Canyon Trailhead (room for 20+ cars but no amenities or water) near the end of Forest Road 3770, the Blue Canyon Trail #982 descends gently past Round Lake and into the Blue Lake Basin to level off at Blue Lake and its junction with the Upper South Fork Trail #988
From here, the Blue Canyon Trail continues eastward past a junction with the Meadow Lake Trail #976
, then past Horseshoe, Pear, and Island Lakes to end at a junction with the Red Lake Trail #987
just north of the PCT. The lakes along this trail are all delightful, even allowing for the horrible mosquitos that infest this area from late June to early September.
An historical highlight along this trail is the Judge Waldo tree, located on the south shore of Island Lake and accessible via a very short (200 feet long) unsigned use trail off the main trail. The inscribed tree is surrounded by a wooden fence and has a USFS sign on it - and is obvious once you get within about 50 feet of it. Judge J.B. Waldo was an early voice for conservation of the Cascade forests. In 1888, during an extended journey along the Cascades, the Judge carved an inscription in a tree on the shores of Island Lake - one of several trees he inscribed in the Cascades.