4 Day Backpacking Trip in the Enchantments

18 miles 6000 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Rose Freeman

Camp along the shores of a turquoise lake or at the top of a ridge with panoramic views. Explore on day trips to nearby peaks and lakes and/ or backpack through mossy forests and across granite fields. Core Permit required for overnight access to all areas during permit season. Permit season extended to May 15, 2016 - Oct 31, 2016.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness named “The Enchantments” draws explorers from all over the world. On a four day backpacking trip you can take day trips from camp to explore over a dozen crystal clear lakes, summit surrounding peaks, and camp at an alpine lake of your choice!

Before you set out to camp overnight in the Enchantments, you need to acquire a permit online or through the Leavenworth Ranger Station if you want to backpack between June 15-October 15. The five Enchantment permit area zones are the Eightmile/Caroline Zone, Stuart Zone, Colchuck Zone, Core Enchantment Zone, and Snow Zone. You must camp at your permit location, but you can take day trips to any of the zones. Permits are won through a lottery every spring. If you don’t win a permit by lottery you can win a permit the morning of your trip at the Leavenworth Ranger Station. Call ahead to the ranger station find out specifics about morning permit lotteries!

There are two routes to backpack to the Core Enchantments basin. The first route begins at the Stuart/Colchuck Lake trailhead and goes up Aasgard Pass (6 miles, 4400 feet of elevation gain). This route is more direct, however, be aware Aasgard Pass gains 2300’ in one mile! The second route to the basin via the Snow Lake trailhead gains 6000’ in a 10 mile trek. This adventure will focus on the Snow Lake trailhead route.

The night before you hit the trail there are many places to stay in Leavenworth (5 miles from the trailhead) so you can get an early start on the trail! Day one of the trip is 8.8 miles and 4,000’ elevation gain. At the Snow Lake trailhead follow the soft wooded trail along Snow Creek, past several small waterfalls, and through a lush alpine forest. Stop at the log bridge to pump water and continue onward and upward! Cross another bridge and continue up switchbacks to Nada Lake. Follow the trail along the shore and then traverse up the last switchbacks until you reach Lower Snow Lake. Camp here at Lower Snow Lake or continue on the trail to Upper Snow Lake. Set up camp and get a good rest before you embark on day two - the gate to the Enchantments.

On day two, pack up camp and begin your 2 mile hike that gains 2000’ elevation gain to Leprechaun Lake. Cross the log bridge at the end of Upper Snow Lake then traverse along the creek through the woods for one mile. From this point, follow the cairns up and across granite fields. On your ascent, stop and take in the first views of McClellon Peak and the Temple. Continue to follow the cairns until you reach Lake Vivian at the base of Prusik Peak! Note: If you need to make a call or send a text, stand on the big rock at the shore of Lake Vivian for decent service. Past Lake Vivian, carefully follow the cairns up across granite walls and through little forests of larches. When you reach Leprechaun Lake, follow the shoreline to a campsite at the base of McClellon Peak or find another campsite on the peninsula. Set up camp and take in the views!!

From Leprechaun Lake on the morning of day three enjoy the views of the surrounding peaks - McClellon Peak, Prusik Peak, and Enchantment Peak. Follow the cairns to trek beyond Leprechaun Lake to Sprite Lake, Perfection Lake, Prusik Pass (just beyond Perfection Lake), Inspiration Lake, Isolation Lake, and countless other unnamed lakes. If you want to plan a climb, Prusik Peak, McClellon Peak, Dragontail Peak, and Colchuck Peak are nearby. For a full day hiking adventure explore Prusik Pass and across the Core Enchantment Basin to the top of Aasgard Pass. Include a scramble up to Enchantment Peak (via Prusik Pass) or up to Little Annapurna (above Inspiration lake) for an added adventure! To see a map of these lakes and peaks, check out REI for a green trails map of the Enchantments.

On the last day of your backpacking trip hike from Leprechaun Lake back to the Snow Lake trailhead. This journey is the longest day - close to 11 miles and 6000’ elevation drop. When I completed this trip in September it took us 7 hours to hike out to the trailhead. One of my favorite places to eat after eating backpacking food is the Leavenworth Pizza Company!!

Read More

Tags

Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

One Of The Best HIKES In The PNW

Its hard to get permits to stay in the enchantments.

Map Drop Point Is Wrong.? I

Great description but your drop point on the map is wrong. You have the hike starting at snow lake trailhead, but it's supposed to be snow lakes TH or Lake Stuart/colchuck TH

Awesome tips!!!

My buddy won permit lottery for snow zone and a group of us are going in July!!! Your elaboration and map through of your trip in the enchantments seems very helpful! What trail head would you recommend starting at? is entering through snow a little less crazier then Stuart?

Stay Nearby

Leavenworth, Washington

Eightmile Group Site

Overview Nestled in a forest canopy of pine and fir on the banks of Icicle Creek, Eightmile Group Campground in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest offers a peaceful setting for groups and large g...

Leavenworth, Washington

Bridge Creek Group Site

Overview Bridge Creek Group Campground sits in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in northwest Washington. Nestled in a mountainous forest near the confluence of Bridge Creek and Icicle Creek, the ...

Leavenworth, Washington

LOGE Leavenworth

Hostels starts at $55, hotel rooms start at $150 Your own private cabin with a river view, or bunk with all your friends (and meet new friends) in our co-ed community style hostel! Grassy lawn, fir...

From $55/night

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth / Pine Village Koa

Nearby Adventures

  • Climb Prusik Peak's West Ridge

    The Enchantments are an amazing experience in themselves.  Yet one of the most striking features of any hike into the core zone of the Enchantments is that of Prusik Peak.  This pyramid like spire rises dramatically from the many puddle lakes and ...

    18 miles 5000 ft gain

  • Winter Camp at Nada Lake

    Being one of the lucky recipients of an Enchantments overnight permit can't happen for everybody. So, for the rest of us, taking to the mountains in the winter is an awesome way to bypass this system and experience the central Cascades in a comple...

    10.6 miles 3800 ft gain

  • Hike to Snow Lake, WA

    This hike gets crowded fairly quickly so get there early. The parking lot is very large so parking is not really a problem.  There are bathrooms at the very beginning of the trail so I highly suggest using them. However at the top there is also a ...

    7.2 miles 1800 ft gain

  • Snowshoe to Snow Lake

    Summer is a great time to visit Snow Lake, but you will miss out on the true beauty of the area and the reason for its namesake. Winter is the perfect season to explore this area – not to mention you will skip the crowds!Reaching the trailhead of ...

    7.2 miles 1800 ft gain